I’m a fan of the youtube TFL channels (especially @TFLtruck and @TFLoffroad) I finally got a Curt Bluetooth brake controller and was able to conduct a tow test with my 2 door non-sas badlands with the 2.3L. I figured I might as well make it one of the toughest (according to TFL) towing tests.
The end result is that I couldn’t be happier with how it performed.
I have had my Bronco since July 3rd and between break in, travel, getting the kids back into school, work, and life in general I hadn’t been able to tow until this morning. My trailer is a Hiker Trailer Exteme Off-Road. It is roughly 13’ long excluding the tongue, 1700lbs dry, and has the same size wheels and tires as the Bronco. It is coupled with a Maxx coupler and maybe had a few hundred pounds of gear inside- let’s call it ~2000lbs. Next time I use it, it will be closer to 2500lbs loaded with everything and my GFC super lite RTT. Being a Sunday the landscape supply centers are closed so I wasn’t able to get an accurate weight. This trailer does have brakes- not required but helpful in the mountains.
Previously I have towed this trailer with my last two vehicles a 2005 Tacoma, and 2017 Wrangler Rubicon Recon. I have also towed it with a borrowed F-150. The trailer itself and its set up I love, not really reviewing that here.
Round trip was close to 156 miles and burned almost exactly 10 gallons of premium. The dash fuel economy has been hovering around “20” mpg although my actual has been between 18.5-19 so a drop to 15.6 mpg in steep mountain country isn’t bad. For reference I would routinely get close to 9-10 mpg with the Tacoma and 12ish with the Jeep towing. The approach to the tunnel was uneventful. I stopped about 20 miles in at the start of the mountains to do a safety check.
Climbing uphill felt almost as it does without the trailer. The little 2.3 has plenty of power and the ability to pass. I found myself in the left lane often without any burden to other traffic. I had plenty of reserve the entire approach. My tacoma was always steady and reliable but definitely maxed out towing in mountain country. The Jeep always seemed to hunting for the right gear and highly revving while towing.
Other than a few passes of semis and other slow traffic the ‘wonderful’ tac never went above 4200rpm. The first major descent “Floyd Hill” was good indicator that downshifting the transmission was more than capable of mostly eliminating the need for brakes.
After a slow final approach to the tunnel due to traffic I was able to exit the tunnel close to the 50mph speed limit to start the descent test into Silverthorn. Tunnel to the exit I was able to maintain close to the 65 mph speed limit with downshifting and only needed one brake application due to a vehicle merging close in front of me and hitting their brakes. The trans hovered around 4000 rpm controlling the descent and the temps all staying nominal.
Turning around and heading back up was just as uneventful and easy as the approach. The acceleration was smooth and consistent. Aside from the thicker traffic that slowed me down it would be hard to make the top in much less than the 7:53 end time without exceeding the speed limit.
The test over with and good results- a mountain trip is never truly successful until you cross onto your driveway. Doing this in the morning helped avoid most of but not all the building Sunday traffic, but there were no issues descending back into Denver in time to find the lazy boy for the Broncos vs. Raiders- Go Broncos and Go Bronco.
Lessons learned and observations:
- -The hitch area is cramped I’ll need to find a narrow/short hitch pin.
- -The Curt Bluetooth controller worked awesome simple easy setup. Don’t waste money or time installing a brake controller if you need one. Ford why not just add one in like most of your trucks c’mon man!
- -I need a better phone mount as you use your phone as the manual control and to set the controller.
- -I saw a lot of overloaded towing setups. For this test I was close to 30-40ish% under the Bronco’s 3500lb max. I try to plan on a max of a 20% safety margin(10% at minimum and 10% for mountain country) I work as a first responder and see too many towing failures.
- -Using the Max coupler required a hitch extension due to the height and the spare tire- easy fix though.
- -I wish I could manually keep the backup camera on past the 30 second delay. I found myself doing a few quick shifts into reverse to turn it back on as I navigated out of a tight parking spot in Idaho springs.
- -I was worried the 2 door would dog track as it towed due to the short wheelbase. No complaints it tracked perfectly straight.
- -I want to add a backup camera to my trailer- easy ideas welcomed- thinking a license plate to Bluetooth type.
- -If I was (and I will be at some point) doing a cross country trip my effective range would be close to 200 miles. I always take a fuel can as insurance I will need it with my 16gal tank- I’d want it with the 4dr too tho.
- -I don’t regret not getting the 2.7L, when I get the Ford performance tune I’ll forget even more.
Alright enough towing- time to hit the trails!