2021 Ford Bronco details emerge on what that seventh gear is for

Jonathon Ramsey

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Magna Powertrain, formerly known as transmission-maker Getrag, posted a spec sheet on its Getrag-Ford site that laid out a few specs on the 5/6/7MTI550 gearbox. The "5/6/7" indicates the number of potential gears. This is the same gearbox that Bozi Tatarevic sleuthed out in late 2018, predicting that its seven-speed variant was headed for the 2021 Ford Bronco with a production name of Ford MT-88 as an evolution of the MT-82 in the Mustang. Picked up by the Bronco6G forum, the info sheet declares the gearbox is built for large rear-wheel-drive cars, trucks and pickups in the C and D segments. It's rated to handle up to 443 pound-feet of torque in standard form, giving it headroom if paired with the 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that makes 325 horsepower and 400 pound-feet in the Ford F-150. It's also designed to accommodate hybrid and all-wheel-drive powertrains, and stop-start systems.

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What's really got off-roaders talking is the sheet's mention of the optional seventh gear as a crawler gear. This could give the Bronco competent crawling capability before accessing the potential in a two-speed transfer case; Magna says the potential gear ratio spread goes up to 11 with that seventh cog. The six-speed manual in the current Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has a gear ratio spread of 7.1 before shifting into low range. The 10-speed automatic in the Bronco's platform-mate, the Ranger pickup, offers a spread of 7.38, and there are few complaints about the pickup's capability even with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. Assuming Ford gives the Bronco fans what they want, meaning this crawler gear and a two-speed transfer case, the benefits could be huge. Hagerty did the best math it could with a lot of assumptions, coming up with a possible 76:1 crawl ratio using the Ranger's 2.717:1 low range in its electronic transfer case. That's down on the current Rubicon's 84.2:1 thanks to the Jeep's 4.0:1 low-range case, but there are rumors that the Bronco can fit 37-inch tires without modifications, plus those front and rear locking diffs, as a "warthog addition for the climbers."

It's been fun playing with guesses for three years now, but the game will come to an end this month when Ford reveals the full-sized Bronco. The big truck is expected on sale next year. The smaller Bronco, thought to be the Bronco Sport, gets a debut next month before hitting the market later this year.

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