Why the New Ford Bronco Doesn’t Have a Fold-Down Windshield

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The new Ford Bronco was designed with a singular objective: dethroning the Jeep Wrangler as the coolest and most capable 4X4 that someone could buy off the lot. Early indications  are good that the blue oval will be able to compete with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in this segment.

The new Bronco is capable, comfortable, and is downright cool. One area that Ford diverted from their “Jeep-killer” aspirations was in the design of the fold-down windscreen. In an interview with Ford Authority , chief designer Paul Wraith explained that safety was a primary reason Ford avoided a folding windscreen on the new Bronco. 

READ MORE: 2021 FORD BRONCO: HOW WE’D BUILD IT

Every Jeep Wrangler, since before it was even called a Wrangler, has had a fold down front windshield. The design originated on the original Willys MB used by the United States military in World War II and continued on through the years of Civilian Jeep (CJ) models as well as the modern day Jeep Wrangler generations. The function of a fold down windshield likely originated as a solution to a logistics problem. Jeeps equipped with soft-tops and folding windscreens could be packed and shipped in smaller crates for rail or air transport. Why then, would a modern sport utility vehicle need a fold down windshield?

They don’t … or at least Ford designers are hoping that they won’t need a folding windshield to compete with the Wrangler.

One challenge with having a fold down windshield is the need to have a nearly flat windscreen to maintain integrity throughout the rest of the body. Instead, Ford designers decided to leave out a center bar between the B-pillar (found on the current Wrangler) and provide an open air driving experience more closely aligned with a convertible. 

READ MORE: THIS IS FORD’S OVERLAND BRONCO CONCEPT

The designers at Ford then thinned out the rest of the pillars and added curtain airbags to the “sport bars” (the long bars connecting the pillars) to increase passenger safety while the roof is off.

The result is an open-air experience unlike any other sport utility vehicle, except perhaps the Wrangler. But Wraith is happy with the design choice to exclude the folding windshield and feels that the Bronco design “provided a very safe envelope for people to ride in”.

The differing roof design on the Bronco provides several other advantages to its FCA counterpart in the areas of convenience. On the four-door Bronco, the roof panels can be removed by one person and stored in the rear cargo area. Anyone who has removed a Jeep hardtop knows that this is typically not a one-person job and a Jeep top takes up a significant chunk of the garage and definitely won’t fit in the rear cargo area.

This author is happy that Ford opted to not copy every design element that makes the Wrangler great and instead included features that make the new Bronco truly unique.


Header photo: Ford Motor Company

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Photo by Brett Willhelm

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