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The 2021 Ford Bronco

It didn't take long in the brand new ford bronco before people started pointing and pulling out their smartphones to take pictures.

It's safe to say that folks are really excited about this new Bronco. And who can blame them? Ford literally invented the SUV segment back in the '60s: the original Bronco was the first "sport utility vehicle."

And they should be excited because the new Bronco is deeply impressive, both off-road and on. But it's the latter that's more interesting to me, considering that even the hardcore off-roader will spend the vast majority of their time on hard pavement.

Still, let's start off-road because that's the most exciting part of the new Bronco — and buyers want to know that their new truck can go anywhere, even if they never will.

The Bronco has a litany of new toys meant to help new off-roaders along. There are as many as seven different "G.O.A.T Modes," named after the original G.O.A.T. code name for the Bronco back in the '60s.

It stands for Goes Over Any Type of Terrain and switching to one — say, Rock Crawl — tweaks the onboard equipment to make it happen. Everything from the electronic front- and rear-differential lockers, 4x4 modes, steering gear, throttle control, and more. Anything that can be electronically controlled is adjusted, and it makes life much easier for the driver. Going through mud? Switch to Mud/Ruts and get on with your day.

There are also a couple of fancy tricks that old-school off-roaders will probably find anathema but which are actually supremely clever. Trail Control is low-speed cruise control for off-roading that allows you to set the speed in half-MPH increments. Once it's set, you don't need to work the pedals at all, and the car maintains speed while modulating the brake and throttle, so all the driver needs to do is steer.

Trail One-Pedal Drive is an offshoot of that, combining brake and throttle into a single pedal like an electric car might have. Press the throttle to accelerate, release it to brake. It's an alternative to complicated two-pedal driving (pressing the gas and brake simultaneously) common in some off-road situations.

Trail turn assist is a very clever new feature. Turn that on and turn the wheel all the way, and the Bronco will apply a hard brake to the inside rear wheel, helping turn the truck in tight confines. It is wild and weird and a lot of fun.

Old-school off-roaders will bemoan the technologification of four-wheelin'. But features like push-button 4x4 mode shifting (rather than a clunky and complicated physical lever) and drive mode selection will allow drivers to take advantage of the Bronco's impressive capabilities more easily. And anything that makes off-roading more accessible is excellent news in my book.

And while the off-road prowess of the Bronco is impressive, the on-road experience is at least as important. After all, it's likely that Broncos will spend at least 99 percent of their lives on pavement, trucking folks to soccer practice or Walmart or the mall or wherever.

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