While there will always be a place in my heart for rev-happy naturally-aspirated engines, turbocharged motors do have one big advantage: It’s relatively easy to make big, meaty power gains with just a simple flash tune. With Ford previously releasing tunes for the Focus ST, Mustang Ecoboost, and Ranger, it was only a matter of time before Ford Performance set its sights on the Bronco.
Load an $850 Ford Performance tune onto your 2.3-liter Bronco and horsepower jumps from 300 to 330, matching the output of the optional 2.7-liter turbocharged V6. What’s more, torque gets a 60 lb.-ft. bump to 385 lb.-ft. While that’s 30 lb.-ft. shy of the stock 2.7-liter V6’s torque output, 385 isn’t a shabby number by any means. Plus, the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the only way to get a manual gearbox in a Bronco.
Looking at dyno charts for the 2.3-liter turbocharged engine’s tune, a few things stand out. Ford Performance’s engineers appear to have chased consistent gains rather than peak numbers, with smooth curves that should indicate like-stock driveability. Secondly, torque gains under the curve appear consistent with plenty of extra shove in the low-to-mid range of the torque band. Thirdly, the power curve with the new flash appears much broader, with significant below-peak gains. However, power does fall off up top, unsurprising given how many modern turbochargers are sized for response.
Of course, a performance calibration is about so much more than power. With electronic throttle bodies and electronically-controlled automatic gearboxes, a whole host of other changes often come with hot powertrain calibrations, and this Bronco flash is no exception. Models with the 10R60 ten-speed automatic gearbox will gain new shift points while the seven-speed manual gearbox gets downshift rev-matching. While there’s still immense satisfaction and pantomime in rev-matching your own downshifts, being able to get a bit lazy should aid traffic jam motoring immensely.
In addition to power and gearbox tweaks, this special calibration will correct vehicle speed readings for some seriously aggressive tires. With this tune, Bronco owners will be able to fit 37-inch tires normally found on the Bronco Raptor, a solid step up from the Sasquatch package’s already enormous 35-inch tires. Perhaps best of all, this new factory-approved tune for the Bronco comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty when flashed by a Ford technician or certified third-party installer.
If you happen to own a Bronco with the 2.7-liter V6, don’t worry, you’re not left out of this. Ford’s launched a special calibration for V6 models, although power gains aren’t nearly as brawny as the 2.3-liter calibration offers. Figure an extra 25 horsepower and 18 lb.-ft. of torque to take things up to 355 horsepower and 433 lb.-ft. of torque. Not bad numbers by any means, but not massive increases. I suspect that a large part of this is the 10R60 automatic gearbox’s maximum torque capacity of 600 Nm, or 443 lb.-ft. A little bit of a cushion is a great way to prevent owners from blowing through drivetrain components.
So what are the downsides to these tunes? Well, premium fuel is mandatory with the performance calibration, each tune is VIN-locked, and the tunes haven’t been approved for use on 2022 Broncos in California. Here’s to hoping that CARB certification is being sought for Golden State Bronco owners wishing to unlock some extra torque.
With fairly low pricing and warranty backing by Ford, these new tunes for the Bronco feel like no-brainers for power-craving owners who live in places with a low price spread between regular and premium gas. While the flash for the V6 model should be mostly felt in gearbox programming, a peak torque bump of 18.46 percent on the four-cylinder model should be noticeable.
Lead photo credit: Ford
Hopefully we get this when the Bronco eventually arrive in Europe, as I don´t think that we will get the v6 here
Something to keep in mind is that a 93 octane tune means using 93 octane fuel. Trouble with that is when you get anywhere near places where you would want to really use a Bronco (mountains, high deserts, etc) you are going to have a helluva time finding 93. The best you are likely to find is 91. I’m sure the Ford tune accounts for lower octane gasoline but to what degree? I remember when the Ecoboost 3.5 first came out I ran into a guy with one pulling near max load in the high desert and he kept throwing codes from engine knock on 91. So with a 93 octane tune, what can you expect in the heat, under load with 91 octane fuel? Even 91 might be hard to find in places where the overland life leads you.
I don’t see what the issue is here. There seems to by high octane gas available near every mall and drive through I pass.
Depending on the elevation 91 should be fine. You basically gain octane points for free the higher you go but lose power instead.
At higher altitudes, the air is thinner so you can actually get by with a lower octane gasoline. For instance, regular grade fuel is 87 octane in Chicago, but 85 octane in Denver.
I always thought that altitude affected octane levels. For instance, in Colorado, gasoline is normally sold at 85 when flatlanders get 87 or 89. You don’t need the higher amounts.
If that holds true, then getting lower octane 90 or 91 should theoretically be fine for mountains and high deserts, as long as you reload to the higher stuff when going home, right?
What octane do you put in your Outback with a Coexist bumper sticker?
Just teasing of course 😉
Or buy some octane booster for the mountains and high plains to carry with you.
Octane booster is a myth. There is no street legal additive that will get you 20 octane points (2 octane levels). This is a consistent problem in the high elevation areas for performance tuners. The Subi crowd has been dealing with this for decades.
Sigma Aldrich sells anhydrous >99.9% octane. Of course it goes for the low price of CAD $472.00 per L
While it is true that the gas station variety of octane booster is a sham (their “points” mean tenths of an octane number, not a full number), there are real octane boosters that can gain you a ton of octane. They are made by race fuel companies. Torco is one I’ve added in high boost (think 25+ psi) turbocharged applications that would normally require 100+ octane race gas but also worked well with Torco additive. These real octane boosters aren’t cheap ($157 for 32 oz) but they do work as advertised (up to 15 points gained depending on mix ratio).
Wow I didn’t know that.
There is a way, and that is to carry race gas and splash mix at each fillup. Seems like a lot of trouble for a little extra power.
That’s the problem is that with Turbo’s this is not accurate. a 93 octane turbo tune is a 93 octane tune at sea level or 10,000 feet.
No it is true to some degree. Turbos do get around the higher altitude problem by cramming in more air but there is still a trade off there. Just not as large as an NA car.
The engine is going to care about manifold pressure not atmospheric. So long as the turbo can hit those pressures, it’s going to. At a point, you are going to be outside the turbo’s operating envelope and you won’t be able to get that manifold pressure, but I don’t think that happens until well above 6-7k feet, even with the tune. Of course, at that point, you are dealing with a lot of additional heat from the turbo trying. I would be curious what Ford has to say about this. I know they would say that it’s an octane requirement no matter the altitude, the interesting thing would be to know how much flexibility they baked into the tune to allow for derating. The tune may work fine on 91 at 5000 feet, but you are getting 91 octane performance not 93. This being the case, it doesn’t really matter except to note that the promised power only happens with 93 at any altitude.
Of course, the other tradeoff would be significantly reduced fuel mileage with this Performance tune. So that also means bringing along extra Jerry-cans of the good stuff fuel when off-roading, I reckon.
Can you elaborate on what a VIN-locked tune is? Is that a way of trying to stop people from copying the tune and using it in other Broncos, or maybe to prevent people from ECU swaps?
yes, prevent people from copying the tune to other cars. Cobb does it it, but it locks it to the serial number of the accessport.
pretty awesome to get 330 hp from a 4-cyl. The popular GM 5.3 LS V8 for many years made 326 hp at most
It would be interesting to see which one returns better mileage in the same application. the hyperboosted 2.3 or the lazy 5.3. My Money is on the bigger engine.
the Silverado has about 17 MPG combined with the 5.3, and 20 MPG combined with Chevy’s 2.7. The F-150 is about the Same with the 5.0 vs the 2.7. I think broadly the little ones are better now.
That would be very hard for the layperson to ever accurately compare these because mileage is so very fickle and the technology has evolved.
i.e, ambient temperatures, altitude, warm-up times for engines, driving terrain, city vs. highway miles, and not to mention all the other subsequent technologies over the years to boost mileage, (aerodynamics of modern cars, HVAC efficiencies, rolling efficient tires, oil viscosities, computer coding changes, etc.)
Then of course, the lead foot vs light foot driver. A smaller displacement hyperboosted turbocharged engine wins if the boost isn’t “activated” much. Meaning it’s easier to hypermile a 2.3 L vs. a 5.3 L. But if it’s hammertime all day, then maybe 5.3 L wins.
It depends a lot on use and load like you say. There is test after test that show that when towing a load the turbo engines are more thirsty than the NA ones.
The head gasket in my wife’s Ford Explorer 2.3L turbo only lasted 72k miles with a stock tune… I wonder how long it would have lasted with this tune in it.
Time for a Bronco RS or at least ST wit a V8 😉
1). It’s very cool that Ford and GM have factory tuning programs that don’t void their cars’ warranties and I wish other OEMs would follow suit.
2). That Ecoboost 2.3 is a better engine than it gets credit for. The wife and I had a rental car upgraded to an Ecoboost Mustang convertible last weekend. I expected it to be fine but flawed…and to be quite honest I had a lot of fun with it. Power delivery isn’t the smoothest in the world but it’s a peppy and willing powertrain.
I don’t really consider buying a Mustang with it to be the shame that I once did. I’d still rather have a V8 but I’m now of the attitude that there ain’t no shame in the turbo 4. 300+ horsepower and RWD is 300+ horsepower and RWD.
$850 for 30 hp and 60 lb.-ft.? Sounds like a deal. People pay more than that for an aftermarket exhaust and all you get is more noise. Please don’t hate me. It’s true.
It seems to me that the excuse of the V6 being too powerful for the 7 speed is now revealed to be BS.
I remain mystified why the enthusiast-oriented engine and enthusiast oriented transmission are not offered together.
The MTI550 7-speed is rated to 550 NM of torque (406 lbs-ft). 385 is still under the rated limit. the 415 from the 2.7 is just over. I’ve read that Ford can take it as high as 590 lbs-ft, depending on the application, but my guess is that the crawler gear is the limiting factor. Much more than 400 lbs-ft going into that crawler gear would probably pull the thing apart sideways, or at least oval the bearings. 300 hp and 385 lbs-ft is enough for that engine/drivetrain combo. Maybe Ford can make a high output version of the 7 speed without the crawler (6 speed) for the Raptor or something.
That remains close enough that I suspect they could have designed for it if they wanted to (in my experience, transmission input ratings are somewhat arbitrary), in any case I still think the decision was strange.
As I said, I think it boils down to the crawler gear. You can get rid of it, but then you have 2 transmissions to produce or you lose a competitive advantage with the 7th gear. I’m sure people will push more than 406 lbs-ft to them and be fine for the most part, but you have to rate them someplace that allows for durability targets.