An Honest Look at the 1988 Ford Bronco: Ford History Flashback

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MotorWeek‘s review of the 1988 Ford Bronco shows the good and bad sides of the iconic vehicle.

There’s no getting around it. The Ford Bronco is an automotive icon. As cool as it was when it was new, it’s even cooler now, whether you’re talking about the stylish early Broncos or the big and badass later models. It’s so iconic, Ford is going to bring it back soon and give the Jeep Wrangler a true competitor. However, iconic or not, it’s a mixture of pros and cons.

Back in the day, MotorWeek got the keys to a 1988 Ford Bronco XLT. At that time, the Bronco was still in production and still in media fleets, so there was no way to look back on it fondly as a long gone but never forgotten model. In the video above, MotorWeek takes an honest, in-depth look at it and gives credit where it’s due and calls out shortcomings when it sees them.

For instance, MotorWeek praises the Bronco’s acceleration, which comes courtesy of an available 5.0-liter V8 with 180 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque routed through a four-speed automatic. Surprisingly, for a large, boxy SUV, the Bronco handles with precision and stability on twisty pavement. In fact, it’s more sure-footed than Japanese SUVs of the time, according to host John Davis. With its second row of seats out, the Bronco provides 100 cubic feet of storage space.

The Bronco’s space and pace don’t make it perfect, though. Speaking of imperfect, the paint job’s varying texture from body panel to body panel leaves something to be desired. The same goes for its hard-to-reach HVAC controls and the second row. The rear is short on room and the way the front seats move makes getting out the back difficult and frustrating.

Ford has had a long time to study its past and the current state of the SUV market, particularly the niche the Wrangler occupies. No matter what the next Bronco is like, Ford deciding to build it again means it’s already off to a great start.

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Derek Shiekhi contributes to a variety of Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including J-K Forum , Jaguar Forums, and 5 Series. He's also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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