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The only problem is it shuts out most of the ORV routes, (only one of three conditions full size vehicles are actually allowed. ORV Routes, 5 Scramble areas and State Forest "Roads"). I agree that we should stay off groomed trials, but you cant even cross a trail the way the bill reads. Most of the northern sections aren't passable by a full size vehicle in winter anyway, but on the East side, it varies quite a bit with temperature and snowfall. St. Helens is a good example. Look at the Scramble area and then look at the Snowmobile trials, it effectively cuts it out of full size use as soon as the groomers start. It's probably not a problem as most of the seasonal roads become pretty good "trails" in the winter, but it can get very confusing where routes, trails and roads zig zag across each other.
I feel you on that. Despite having GPX files for the routes up on android auto, we still managed to make a wrong turn and go about 100 ft down a "trail" instead of a route. And good point about the east side stuff, it might not even have enough snow to ride until the middle of January.
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PavementQueen

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Where about in Cadillac area? I am in Cadillac West and did some light 2-tracking this weekend. Lots of area by Lake Olga. Found a nice hill climb in Meauwataka area yesterday while out with my kid.

I want to find more trails/routes to explore in the area, so thanks @jwoobs for this route. That would make a good day trip with the family to run up to Grayling area to explore.
I literally live on lake cadillac, sunnyside dr.
 

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Great write up, thanks.

What is the whole 3 year trail subscription thing that is included with (some?) Bronco trims?

Doesn't that allow you to download trails and use offline as well? I like your solution though and think that's awesome MI DNR has the files.
 

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Great write up, thanks.

What is the whole 3 year trail subscription thing that is included with (some?) Bronco trims?

Doesn't that allow you to download trails and use offline as well? I like your solution though and think that's awesome MI DNR has the files.
The Ford Offroad Trail Maps are not live yet.
 
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Great write up, thanks.

What is the whole 3 year trail subscription thing that is included with (some?) Bronco trims?

Doesn't that allow you to download trails and use offline as well? I like your solution though and think that's awesome MI DNR has the files.

I tried looking for that before I left and couldn't find it anywhere, in the FordPass app or on Sync system itself.

Might not be out yet?
https://www.motortrend.com/news/2021-ford-bronco-offroad-navigation-gps-system-sync/
 

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Finally home, so I'm going to write out some more details.


The Route:
Starting in Roscommon, we took the West Higgins Route to the Kalkaska Route. We took the northern loop about 3/4 of the way around before hopping off to take the Frederic Route back to Grayling.

All the Michigan DNR "routes" are 72"+ wide, so easy enough for all our vehicles to go through. There were some sections on the northeast portion of the Kalkaska loop that are very narrow cuts. I wouldn't have wanted anything wider.

The West Higgins Route has some very scenic elevated sections, and due to the late leaf drop this year there was still plenty of color.

The terrain was mostly sandy, there were the some dirt/mud sections as well. There was also some snow on the northern trails, plenty of puddles from snow melt, though about 1 foot deep at the most. These routes are groomed snowmobile trails in the winter, and we actually came across a grader in one section. So they are very well maintained.

The only two obstacles that presented any challenge were a fallen pine tree that required a bit of twist-ditch like diversion off the side of the trail, and a 2 foot boulder that would wipe out a driver's door if you slid to the left. Thank goodness the trail was dry in this section.

The Michigan DNR makes GPX files of the trails available on their website. I used Gaia GPS to import them, which works with both CarPlay and Android Auto. Despite some initial issues getting it to work with my Pixel phone, it worked great for seeing the trails. I paid for the premium subscription to get downloaded maps, and had no issues pulling them without cell service.


The Bronco
I have a 2dr Black Diamond, so it was plenty nimble for these trails. The General Grabbers were okay, but I also drove my friend's Wrangler, which had some Falkens off a Gladiator Rubicon. Those felt much better in the sand. I'm relatively new to off-roading, but I suspect the Grabbers are more for rock crawling with their much tighter tread block.

The GOAT modes are definitely noticeable, although I don't think they are strictly necessary. I started in Normal with 4H and T/C off. After a few stability interventions, I disabled that as well. The Bronco seemed to rotate better with a little throttle. If I tried to trail brake a little bit, it tended to push outside instead.

Later I switched to Mud/Ruts, which turned on 4H, locked the rear diff, T/C off, and set it to the ECO / Slippery throttle setting. I also tried Sand, which is basically the same except with the sport mode throttle setting.

Average fuel economy was about 16 mpg according to the cluster, but I didn't bother to validate that when fueling up. For comparison I've been getting about 17.9 on the highway.

We probably averaged about 25 mph over 80 trail miles.

I also used trail control on one of the descents, and it was excellent. The trail wasn't particularly slippery in that section, but it makes a controlled descent so drama-free. We also used it a bunch at Texas Off-Roadeo. Honestly one of the best trade-offs of being forced into the auto trans because I had the audacity to want heated seats in the mid-package.

When passing that boulder, I had no problem sticking my head out the window and seeing the exact position. Those thin doors make it very easy to get a feel for where your vehicle is. I can't say that I was conscious of the trail sights. I'd love to get a body color panel to delete them.

The 2.7L absolutely hauls the mail. 20-40 mph on the sand is a riotously good time.

Concerns about the Bronco:
  • Open crash bars. I had a ton of sand in these. When I shot the hose into them, the water seems to find some drain holes over the skid plate. Hoping most of the sand is gone. Might need to get some caps for the winter. Salt in there sounds like a losing combination.
  • Grunting during turns. I'm not sure if this was just the bushings loading up and squeaking, or the stability control going off. More investigation needed here
  • Nooks and crannies everywhere, despite visiting two self-washes and a wash in the driveway, I'm certain there are still a couple pounds of sand on the frame, in the rear bumper, and above the wheel wells. The quick release fenders also love to trap dirt.
  • The rear wiper is small and cute, and not in a good way. I'd guess only about 1/3 of the rear glass gets wiped. Not going to be fun in the winter. Hopefully the defrost is kickass.
  • The single light stalk. About half the time I would active the turn signal while spraying the windshield. Not that bad, I just look like an idiot on the trails lol.
  • Black Diamond steel wheels. Although I prefer the look and also the strength of steel wheels over the alloys, they are almost impossible to clean from the exterior. The first spray wash I just hit them externally, not even thinking (or seeing) there might be mud trapped in there. After noticing they were unbalanced, I looked closer and saw the mud. So at the next spray wash I put the nozzle through the holes and also tried to get low and spray from underneath. I saw a lot of sand coming out, so I thought i would be okay, but they were still unbalanced. Finally I pulled over at a rest stop and just had to scoop it out by hand in the parking lot.
  • Hard top clunk. Not horrible, but there is a little clunk / rattle coming from just above and behind my left ear which will probably drive me to insanity over time.
  • 2dr storage space. I knew going in it was going to be a downgrade from 4d Mazda hatch, but it's a little worse than I thought. I wish the front seats slid forward about an extra 6 inches when in the slide forward mode. I'll probably fold the seats flat when carrying a lot of stuff, but see the next point...
  • Rear glass requires tailgate to be fully open. You need about 4 feet of clear space behind the vehicle to get to most of the cargo area.
  • The bump for the rear seats. My focus and Mazda both had completely flat cargo areas. Might have to get a cargo drawer to level it out.

Versus The Competition
I drove the Wrangler and the Colorado ZR2 for about 15 minutes each as well.
My friend with the ZR2 swore the Bronco rode softer, while I felt his truck was actually better. This was on the freshly graded portion of the trail however, so probably not a good benchmark. I know a little bit about the DSSV dampers, and they are supposed to be top-notch. Obviously Ford thinks pretty highly of them to put them in the Bronco DR. I would rate the interior quality of the Colorado about an 8/10, and the Bronco about 7/10. I prefer the design, but the quality of the plastics in the Bronco seems lower. The Hero switches up at eye level are definitely better than the ZR2 ones down near the shifter.

The Wrangler felt lighter, like smaller 90's cars. The cabin was much smaller and closer; less room vertically and horizontally, though not cramped by any means. The Bronco feels much more like an F150 in terms of cab size. Didn't get to drive the wrangler on-road, but my friend says it's pretty floaty in comparison. I did think it felt better over the sand whoops though. It did get a pretty rough side-to-side roll thing going on for a second that I never had happen in the Bronco, but still felt plenty capable. It felt a lot closer to my dad's old CJ Wrangler; not that it's a bad thing. In a weird way it felt more connected to trail, where as the Bronco was more composed and isolated. Considering the Bronco is my daily driver, I'm okay with that trade off.

The Wrangler has the same crappy rear shock mounting point, but it wasn't an issue on this trail.

Apologies for the lack of photos and videos. I was intending to get a time-lapse off a GoPro, but didn't find a good mounting point and just decided to wheel instead.

The "Accessory Ready" Mounting point looks like it might 1/4-20 thread, so I might be able to just get a piece of threaded rod directly attach it.


EDIT 11/8: Added some more comments about the Wrangler.


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DSC_3286.JPG


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Thanks for the update and maps. I'll have to check those out as a fellow Michigander!
 

foremi

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I had a 2018 ZR2 diesel up until a few weeks ago, have a 2dr badlands on order. The DSSV shocks on the zr2 are its best feature. It rode super well on the road and handled any trails I put it on without issue. When I say it rode well on the road, I mean it rode smooth and with no harshness on Michigan roads even when compared to some nice german vehicles with adaptive shocks or air suspension.

While I have not driven a bronco I have fingered one pretty well at a couple local dealers and IMO its a huge difference. When you close the doors in a colorado the entire door panel creaks and cracks as it flexes. When you use the touch screen the dash "cracks" as your finger pressure makes it move slightly. When you are driving down the road your knee makes the door panel creak if it touches it. The interior is made of childrens toy plastic and is overall akin to a late 90s GM product. It's the worst interior in a modern car I have experienced and is the reason I no longer have the truck.

Anyway.. if anyone is interested this is what part of the kalkaska ORV route looks like -
 
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For comparison I've been getting about 17.9 on the highway.
Oof, I'm starting to get cold feet. My Durango R/T gets 22 HWY and even that's painful, especially now that we're back to $4/gallon gas. I know hardcore off-roaders don't care much about MPG, but it appears those of us looking for a daily driver with less frequent off-road activity are in for a world of pain at the pump.
 

foremi

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Oof, I'm starting to get cold feet. My Durango R/T gets 22 HWY and even that's painful, especially now that we're back to $4/gallon gas. I know hardcore off-roaders don't care much about MPG, but it appears those of us looking for a daily driver with less frequent off-road activity are in for a world of pain at the pump.
Your Durango is a more aerodynamic shape as well as having better gearing for cruising and is lower to the ground. I'm not sure how fast OP drives on the freeway but 17.9 seems a bit low from what others have been claiming so until there's plenty of fuelly evidence I am not holding my breath for how good or bad the bronco's seem to do.
 

foremi

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The BD felt plenty capable on these trails. It was the perfect width too, I think Squatch would actually have been a hinderance. I'd rather have the extra nimble-ness instead of the extra ground clearance. That 4 door Wrangler didn't have any issues either, so length wasn't a problem.
This is why I went non-sasquatch Badlands. The Badlands will do anything I ever do, and the sasquatch wheel/tire combo will just make it worse to daily, worse fuel economy, worse to tow and worse on michigan trails where width generally matters more than ground clearance.

The swaybar disco wouldn't have helped either. These trails in particular a pretty flat, I never ended up hanging a wheel in the air at any point.
While increasing articulation in a situation where you will lift a wheel off is one reason to disconnect the sway bar, another would be minimizing the amount of "side to side" motion that gets transferred to the vehicle in washed out sections of trail. I would see myself using it often on sandy trails.
 
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This is on 93 octane, and I'm only at 850 miles currently. Hoping to see some improvement as the engine breaks in.

Cruising mostly right around 70 mph, with an occasional 5-10mph extra for a pass.

I will say I am missing my Mazda that got AT WORST 26 mpg regardless of speed, and on 87 octane to boot.

Maybe I will have to replace my Focus RS with a Mach-E. Or sell it outright and just use all the cash on gas :'(

Oof, I'm starting to get cold feet. My Durango R/T gets 22 HWY and even that's painful, especially now that we're back to $4/gallon gas. I know hardcore off-roaders don't care much about MPG, but it appears those of us looking for a daily driver with less frequent off-road activity are in for a world of pain at the pump.
Your Durango is a more aerodynamic shape as well as having better gearing for cruising and is lower to the ground. I'm not sure how fast OP drives on the freeway but 17.9 seems a bit low from what others have been claiming so until there's plenty of fuelly evidence I am not holding my breath for how good or bad the bronco's seem to do.
 

Mattwings

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I can say that the stay-bar disconnect makes low speed trail driving much more comfortable. Other than Drummond Island or Holly Oaks, probably not a lot of obstacles on MI trails that will need the disconnect. To that end, none of the ORV routes will be a problem 90% of the time with any of the models, particularly equipped with a rear locker.
 

SaveTheManuals

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Hard top clunk. Not horrible, but there is a little clunk / rattle coming from just above and behind my left ear which will probably drive me to insanity over time.
I have been trying to figure out if I can get rid of that sound. I know the exact one your talking about. I also have a 2 door. It sounds like it’s the plastic trim behind the seatbelt holder but it could be the roof like you said.
 

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Oof, I'm starting to get cold feet. My Durango R/T gets 22 HWY and even that's painful, especially now that we're back to $4/gallon gas. I know hardcore off-roaders don't care much about MPG, but it appears those of us looking for a daily driver with less frequent off-road activity are in for a world of pain at the pump.
I have decided to get rid of my 2018 F150 SCREW 4x4 and am buying a Maverick and a Bronco. I have wanted a Bronco for decades and at 52 years old, I will not be denied! My first car in 1986 was a one owner 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner 383 4 speed, 100% stock and original, radio delete and all, I sold it while in college because of its poor gas mileage, I still miss that car. Ford has given me a chance to own a new Bronco and I'm going to do it.
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