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