It's saying something when crossing the Mackinac Bridge, car open to the crisp northern Michigan air as sunbeams streak across the landscape, is the least exciting or beautiful thing you'll experience in a day. But barely an hour after I passed through the toll booth on the northern end of the Mighty Mac, I realized Michigan's biggest bridge was going to have some serious competition on this day.
My destination was Drummond Island. One of the largest landmasses in the Great Lakes, Drummond sits at the far eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula as one of Michigan's last great wilderness, with 40 miles of tight, rutted, muddy off-road trails. The Drummond Island Tourism Association recommends a winch, and after heavy rains the day before my drive, it'd probably recommend a snorkel. The 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades has both, not to mention 35-inch tires, and a removable roof. Every Bronco is built to get muddy, but the Everglades and Drummond Island are a pairing that made for going wild.
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|2022 Ford Bronco Everglades
|Turbocharged 2.3-liter I4
|275 Horsepower / 315 Pound-Feet
Gallery: 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades: First Drive
Unfussy From The Factory
If you think back to when Ford introduced the reborn Bronco in July 2020 (one of the only things worth remembering about that garbage year), the Blue Oval was keen to point out how customizable and modular the entire package was (and still is). You could get the hardcore Sasquatch package on all trims and there was a robust accessory program from the start, and that was just what Ford was providing. The aftermarket has since stepped in and upped the ante.
The Bronco Everglades runs counter to that focus on customization, but in the best way possible. Rather than asking you, the consumer, to sift through catalogs and brochures and internet forums, the Everglades takes the guesswork out of two of the most valuable, most expensive, and most labor-intensive off-road modifications – a winch and an intake snorkel – by making them standard from the factory.
The Everglades' Warn Zeon 10-S winch has a 10,000-pound capacity and 100 feet of synthetic cable from the factory, but Ford tweaked a few exterior components to suit its own internal corrosion standards. The snorkel has quick-adjust plates to change the direction that air enters based on conditions, while new vents for the front and rear axles, transfer case, and transmission increase the fording depth to 36.4 inches. That's 6.4 inches more than a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
These are the headlining items from the Everglades package, but they aren't all you're getting. A love-it-or-hate-it graphic on the front fender, a roof rack, gorgeous 17-inch wheels, and the Everglades-exclusive Desert Sand paint round out the roster, but the real foundation of this package is the Black Diamond trim. The Bronco's budget off-road setup donates all its highlights (locking front and rear differentials, stouter underbody protection, and waterproof vinyl upholstery with rubberized flooring, Rock Crawl driving mode), in addition to the usually optional Sasquatch package.
The Everglades will only be available in a four-door body, which trades breakover ability and trail maneuverability for extra space and better performance through deep mud or snow. There will also be a subset of consumers who are sad about the lack of powertrain variety – the Everglades is only available with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder and 10-speed automatic, so V6 aficionados and do-it-yourself shifter enthusiasts need not apply. Considering the sheer popularity of the four-pot/four-door pairing, though, Ford likely crafted the pre-set trim that will have the broadest possible appeal.
Let's get this out of the way first: the Bronco Everglades is every bit as satisfying off-road as any other Black Diamond Sasquatch. Ditch the roof and become one with nature, splashing about in puddles (most of the water hits the second row, rather than the first), Mud/Ruts mode engaged and rear differential locked. The Bronco dutifully surges ahead through thick mud and high water. And when you hit the rocks at higher ground, the Black Diamond's Rock Crawl mode and locking front differential allowed more-than-adequate crawling ability.
But you buy the Everglades for what it adds to the Black Diamond package. The Everglades' snorkel looks purposeful in most settings, and while I'm sure it's great for keeping the engine's insides dry, the real entertainment comes when accelerating. You've not heard real intake noise until you've experienced the turbocharged 2.3-liter sucking in air through a long plastic tube a few inches from your passenger’s right ear. There's a constant, giggle-inducing hiss under throttle. The winch is certainly more practical, both for escaping tricky situations (which I didn't really encounter) and for clearing the road of obstacles.
But the Everglades is damn expensive. This is the second-priciest model in the lineup behind the Raptor, starting at $54,595 (including a $1,595 destination charge). Voice that concern to Ford and it'll point out that a Bronco Badlands Sasquatch with an automatic and the High Equipment package is essentially the same price but doesn't include a winch or snorkel. That's fair, but going with the Everglades does require some other sacrifices.
Because it's based on the Black Diamond rather than the Badlands, disconnecting sway bars are absent. There were only a few sections of trail on Drummond where the additional articulation would have been truly helpful – the rocky steps at Marblehead, for example – but there were numerous situations where the improved ride at low speeds would have been welcomed, such as while bounding down the countless muddy, rutted trails the Everglades could handle at 10 to 15 miles per hour.
I also missed the Badlands’ excellent 360-degree off-road camera. The Everglades' winch/brush guard would obscure a front-facing camera, so this is a rear-view-only affair. Ford says it's working on a solution to offer the camera system with the winch, but for my test at Drummond I had to go without. Frankly, it’s the most problematic omission – even with trail sights at the corners, the Bronco's wide, flat hood limits visibility while climbing steeper obstacles. That forced me to rely more on spotters than I would have had to in a Badlands.
If there's one thing I learned during the day on Drummond, it's not how helpful a snorkel or winch is. Instead, the journey was a reminder of the appeal of vehicles like the Bronco (and yes, its rival, the Jeep Wrangler). Every trail I ran on Drummond Island is publicly accessible, and each is naturally beautiful. Leave the roof at home as I did, and take in the crowded tree-lined trails, scenic swamps, or rocky beaches that live around every bend. Drummond Island is home to 1,000 people but I didn’t see another house or building for hours – it felt like a wilderness right up until I boarded the ferry to drive back across the bridge.
And this brilliant off-road playground is barely an hour from Mackinaw City, which itself is a leisurely four-hour freeway drive from metro Detroit. It's not at all hard to imagine loading up a Bronco Everglades on a Friday morning, driving to Drummond, and off-roading during the day while camping on the beach of Glen Cove at night, just to return home dirty and sunburnt on Sunday. That's one hell of a life.
Bronco Competitor Reviews:
2022 Ford Bronco Everglades