A bad experience with the Wrangler helped shape the 2021 Bronco.
Looking over photos of the 2021 Ford Bronco, the trisected roof almost goes unnoticed. Yes, it's a feature offered on the Jeep Wrangler – open-air off-roading is both of the SUVs' forte, but Ford engineers divided it into threes for easier removal. The design came after one Ford engineer's misfortune with the Wrangler's awkwardly cumbersome removable roof.
In an interview with Muscle Cars and Trucks, Ford Global Program Manager Jeff Seamen said the Wrangler's "panel lever design" makes it awkward and prone to tipping over, which happened to him, cracking the piece. The Wrangler's roof is divided into two sections – a thin panel over the front passengers and a large one covering the vehicle's rear. The rear panel is large, weighing 140 pounds (63 kilograms), and extending over the second-row seats. Two people are needed to remove it with ease.
Gallery: 2021 Ford Bronco
The trisected Bronco roof places an intermediate panel between the one over the front passengers and the rear-most panel that houses the side windows and the top of the liftgate. This makes the rear-most panel lighter and easier to remove while eliminating its chance of tipping over and cracking, which would be quite the costly mistake Ford doesn't want its customers to experience. The second panel sits over the second-row seats.
Seamen also mentioned the side-mirrors, which are attached to the Bronco's cowl. They stay when the doors are removed, which isn't the case for the Wrangler, which has the mirrors attached to the doors. You can bet Jeep is watching what Ford is doing with the Bronco, which could lead to some changes in the Wrangler's design going forward, though we doubt they'll arrive anytime soon. There's a new competitor in town doing things a new way, and Jeep will have to respond, especially if Ford has found a better design solution.