2021 Ford Bronco won’t get V8 engine due to emissions constraints

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Ford doused cold water on the rumors claiming the born-again Bronco will sooner or later gain an optional V8 engine. While an eight-cylinder might fit, the company needs to keep the SUV’s CO2 emissions in check.

“We have to manage the CO2 implications of the product. The way the federal requirements are now, it’s all footprint-based. If you look at the shadow area of a small off-road vehicle, it has a pretty high target from a government perspective in terms of CO2,” explained Eric Loefller, the Bronco’s chief engineer, in an interview with Muscle Cars & Trucks. His comments confirm that, as of writing, a V8-powered variant is not in the pipeline.

He added cylinder count has lost its appeal in the minds of motorists. Broadly speaking, buyers care about horsepower, torque, and fuel economy, but they’re not specifically demanding eight cylinders under the hood. And, Ford argued the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 is the right engine because it satisfies motorists and regulators.

“If the customer experience was significantly enhanced with a Coyote engine, it would have been under serious consideration. In all honesty, that EcoBoost motor is damn good, and when you get out of it you don’t say, ‘I wish it had a bigger engine,'” said Jeff Seaman, Ford’s Global Program Manager.

Replacing raw displacement with forced induction doesn’t mean the Bronco’s output will remain capped at 310 horsepower. As we’ve previously reported, credible reports and intriguing spy shots tell us Ford is preparing to add Bronco to its range of Raptor-badged off-roaders, and we expect powertrain modifications will appear on the roster of changes.

Aftermarket tuners are impatiently waiting to get their hands on the Bronco, too. Hennessey notably puts a 5.0-liter V8 in the current-generation F-150 Raptor, which leaves the factory with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, so it’s not difficult to imagine the tuner performing a similar swap on the Bronco. It already announced plans to sell a full catalog of “high-performance and extreme off-road upgrades.” Whether a V8 fits between the fenders without major modifications is a different story; we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out.

Jeep views the matter in a different light. It strongly hinted that the Wrangler, the Bronco’s arch nemesis, will be offered with a 450-horsepower, 6.4-liter V8 engine in the not-too-distant future. It’s too early to tell whether the Wrangler Rubicon 392 will arrive a regular-production model, or if it will land as a limited-edition variant. Jeep also needs to stay on the right side of emissions regulations, but it’s partially offsetting the extra gallons burned by the naturally-aspirated V8 with a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler named 4xe.

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