Son Wants a 1996 Bronco. Should we?


We don’t know anything about these cars. It’s a V8. Are they safe? Are they reliable? Help!


Safe, a long as you don’t turn corners too hard (rollover danger). But, big and heavy enough to be very safe in a collision. Reliable? This is a 14 year old truck. Reliability left town years ago. Parts are cheap, tho. But, hopefully, so is this truck.


Thanks! What do you think about the fuel economy? My son thinks 15 mpg. But I’ve seen other things online that say 9, 10, or 11?

#4 lists 11 mpg city, 15 mpg hwy. Just as it looks, it is a fuel pig. You’ll probably experience more like 10-12 on average unless you drive 90% highway, if it is in proper tune and not too worn out. If there are issues like that, you’ll see single digits easily.

The only way this makes much sense is if it is just for a toy, something big and beefy for the weekends or on hunting trips. If this is for everyday driving, you’ll begin to hate the frequent and ever increasing fuel stops. And, count on plenty of trips to the mechanic. A lot of components on this truck could begin to fail if they are still working.


Thanks for your help. We appreciate it.


How old and experienced is your son? These are unstable in emergency situations.


He’s 21. I think he’s got pretty good reaction speed, but obviously not tons of experience. Plus, like most young men, he’s probably occasionally distracted by ipods and cell phones. He’s a good kid, but still has lots to learn with cars


If it’s not a Bronco II, it is safer. If it is the (smaller) Bronco II, definitely no. So if it doesn’t look to be the size of a F-150, only not as long, no sale. No way. You drive onto a soft shoulder, you flip end to end, you don’t just roll.


Does this truck have air bags?


A safer and more fuel efficient choice would be the newer Jeep Wrangler and Toyota FJ Cruiser.


Some statistics showed that the Bronco II had a rollover fatality rate that was the worst of any vehicle on the road at the time–three times worse than the Suzuki Samurai.


As far as gas mileage expect more like 10 mpg. It has a big V8 and young folks like to feel the power so he won’t get anything close to 15 mpg. This will be an expensive vehicle to operate. If he drives a 100 miles that’s 10 gallons at whatever the going price for gallon is in your locale.


96 is the last year for the big full size Bronco based on the F150. ( Loved my 80 Bronco )
Being a big 4x4 it wont get good mpg, But no one ever bought a Bronco for mpg.
It should have a driver’s air bag.

It’s a tall truck with a short wheel base…IT WILL HAVE CORNERING AND SWERVING HANDLING ISSUES. He MUST learn to drive that type of truck.
For example…If he’s scooting down the boulevard at 50 mph and a dog runs accross the road, HIT THE DOG ( I’m not joking ), do not swerve.
If you do have to make an evasive swerve to one side…do not swerve back. Catch the arc at it’s apex and gradualy return to your line in a more straight line.

** For this driving technique he must re-train his subconciuos habit for this type of vehicle. **

This is a truck he CAN work on himself.
Have major mechanicals like 4x4, transmission, and engine checked out before purchase and I think he’ll like that truck.
Great for off roading.
The short wheel base is great for backing and parking a trailer.


Ignoring the safety side, is it a good idea to buy a 10-12 mpg vehicle, with gas going to $3/gallon, and it could go much higher? I wouldn’t. Wouldn’t you be kicking yourself in 6 months if gas was back at $4/gallon?


I actually own a 1995 Bronco that I got when I was 20. I’m 31 now. I plan on holding on to it until someone makes a fullsized 2-door truck-based SUV again. I was hoping for a two door Excursion, but that’s not happening.

Anyway. The Bronco is fine vehicle IMHO. They handle well for what they are. They are roomy, the front capatins chair seats are comfortable, they are capable off road. They can tow a fair amount (though the short wheelbase and adequate-at-best brakes realistically limit the real-world towing capcity to around 5000 pounds. It’s pretty reliable, Mine has over 200k on the clock and the only things aside from normal maintence I’ve had to deal with was a transmission rebuild and the replacement of the clock spring in the airbag. Parts and servicing costs are low.

There are a few downsides. The tailgates like to rust. The fuel mileage isn’t good. When mine was stock I got about 12 MPG. With a 4 inch lift, 33 inch tires, 4.56 gears, and some minor engine tweaks, I get around 9 MPG overall. There’s not much difference in fuel mileage between the 302 and the 351W. 15 MPG is going to be a tall order, figure on 12-13 MPG overall.

Stuff to look for : Rust on the tailgate, rust on the inside of the fenders, and oil leaking from the rear main seal. Also if the top has ever been removed and improperly stored, it’s next to impossible to get the squeaking to stop when you put it back on again. Also on the reaar tailgate it’s not uncommon for the device that senses which way you way you are trying to go (up or down) to become temperatmental.


If I had a son to select a car for, this would probably be the LAST one I would choose. It’s an unreliable, unsafe gas hog and with fuel going up again soon, a bad choice.

As a first car, a low powered enconobox is your best choice. I would look at Hyundai Elantras, Hyundai Accents, Mazda Protege’s, and similar vehicles. These are all easy and cheap to maintain and fix, and easy on gas as well as cheap to insure. I would avoid “sports” models and go for manual shift since used automatics are an expensive crapshoot.

The last claim to fame of the Bronco was as O.J.Simpson’s getaway car in the LA police chase.


SUVs are more prone to rolling than a regular car even in the hands of an experienced driver. In the hands of an inexperienced driver they can be absolutely deadly.

They’re susceptable to flipping in exactly the kinds of mistakes that inexperienced drivers make; cornering too fast, entering exit ramps too fast, sudden braking while cornering or ramping too fast when one realizes he/she has gone in at too great a speed, inattention resulting in last second evasive maneuvers.

There is no way I’d give one of my kids a Bronco.


Ken . . . HIT THE DOG? . . . ouch! Rocketman


When you learn this vehicle type you know the reality of roll over potential and you…

hit the dog…

or you’re going over.

You can learn the feel of which speeds and how severe of swerve it can handle but generally you train your subconcious to NOT swerve.
You do not hop into this truck and zoom off after learning in a Taurus, without ‘‘re-training in type’’. ( an airplane term we pilots use. )


I respectfully disagree

Unreliable? No, mine has over 200k on the clock with only a handful of problems. The 4 other guys I know who have Broncos have had even better luck that I have. A guy I play golf with has over 300k on his, and hasn’t had to do anything other than routine maintence.

Unsafe? No , The Bronco is quite wide, it’s as sure-footed as you’re going to find in a SUV, It’s much more stable than an Explorer or Bronco II (which is a deathtrap). It handles well, there’s surprisingly little body roll.

Gas hog? Yes, but that’s to be expected. I knew it wasn’t going to win any fuel economy runs when I bought. But for what I use it for, I have no complaints. But if you think $100 is too much to pay for a tank of gas, then this isn’t the vehicle for you.

From a power to weight standpoint, all of the econoboxes you mentioned best the Bronco. It’s heavy and by today’s standards it’s not particuarly powerful.