Payne: Ford Bronco Everglades conquers Drummond Island

Posted by Talbot Payne on June 30, 2022

Drummond Island — So this week I’m chewing up Drummond Island’s labyrinth of soggy off-road trails in a Ford Bronco Everglades. It’s the latest in a stream of Bronco trims aimed at conquering every corner of God’s green earth.

First there was the base Bronco optioned with ginormous 35-inch Sasquatch trim tires and dual-locking diffs so you could commute via the Rouge River bed to work.

Then came Bronco Badlands with detachable front sway bar and rock-resistant armored plating so you could climb Mount Rushmore.

Next up: the Bronco Raptor with ridiculous live-valve Fox shocks so you can avoid L.A. traffic and take a shortcut through the desert at 75 mph.

What’s next? Maybe Bronco Sleeping Bear Dunes so you run a shuttle up and down the world’s most formidable sand dunes?

Or the Bronco Moon so astronauts have something to drive through the Sea of Tranquility?

My latest, $54,595 Everglades tester fills a nice off-roader’s niche between the Black Diamond trim and the purist’s Badlands.

Narrower than the 86-inch-wide Bronco Raptor, the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades crawls through Drummond Island's narrow tree trails.

Built on the same bones as Black Diamond — five skid plates, rock rails, seven GOAT (Go Over Any Terrain) modes, standard 35-inch tires — Everglades then adds more standard features for customers who want an extreme off-roader without having to dig deep into the Badlands toolbox and assemble accessories themselves.

Significant Everglades upgrades include WARN winch, engine intake snorkel, plastic bumpers and roof rails. Dude, you’re ready to chase Star Wars’ speeder bikes through the forests of Endor.

But let me recommend Drummond Island. It’s closer.

The 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades heads to Drummond Island via quick ferry ride.

Just five hours up I-75 from Detroit, cross the mighty Mackinac Bridge, then hook a right and go to the east end of the U.P. Hop the ferry and five minutes later you’re on Drummond, the seventh largest lake isle in the world — and the only island in the Manitoulin island chain that belongs to the USA (the rest of the archipelago is Canadian).

Once aboard Drummond, I joined a convoy of Everglades and headed to the island’s eastern forests. Drummond’s 134 square miles is covered by 100 miles of off-road trails — one of the largest closed-loop ORV parks in the United States. And for some reason, the trails are wet all the time, which is perfect for a vehicles named Everglades sporting a snorkel.

Bronco engineers Seth Goslawski and Jamie Groves played Lewis and Clark and guided us through the labyrinth. Let me recommend downloading the GAIA GPS app if you come here with your own groups of trailblazers — it provides good trail guidance. Here’s another tip: bring waders.

Take the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades to wet Drummond Island and you might want waders. Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne did.

Swampy Mounds ORV park in Flint is the only park I’ve found comparable to Drummond, but the latter is much bigger and combines swamp with spectacular views of Lake Huron.

I shifted Everglades to Neutral. Spun the GOAT mode selector to Mud/Ruts putting me in 4WD High. Shifted back to DRIVE. Punched it.

With the 35-inch Goodyear Territory tires aired down to 33 PSI (from 40) the beast romped happily thought the woods. Splashed through puddles. Danced over rocks. Sliced between trees.

This ain’t the 75-mph desert running I did in the Bronco Raptor earlier this month.

Stuck? Get out the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades' winch.

Everglades doesn’t have Raptors’ 418 horse, twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 beast under the hood. Heck, the 87.5-inch wide Raptor wouldn’t have fit through some of the tight Drummond trails, which were apparently cut by years of Jeep Wrangler and side-by-side owners. Nor is Everglades optioned with the 2.7-liter, 330-horse V-6 available on the Badlands buffet. For the Everglades’ simplified menu of options, the standard 300 horse, 2.3-liter turbo-4 is enough.

Ford’s logic? With that 100-pound winch hanging off the front bumper, the 2.3 saves 100 pounds from the V-6 for good weight balance. Which makes sense when you’re front end starts sinking in Drummond mud and needs to power out. This is the same peppy engine found in the Mustang High Performance model.

To guard against water damage while fording nearly 40 inches of water, the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades' 300-horse, 2.3-liter turbo-4 engine is fed by an air intake snorkel.

A spirited run through the forest suddenly opened into a beautiful beach, Lake Huron’s crystal-clear water lapping at the stones. Sprayed with mud, our Everglades Broncos were equipped with washable vinyl seats and drain plugs so you can hose down the interior.

They are also equipped with Rock Crawl, which would come in handy for our next trail: Drummond’s famed Marblehead Steps.

The 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades comes with a 35-inch Goodyear Territory spare. Just in case.

Shift to Neutral. Spin GOAT to Rock Crawl mode, enabling 4-LOW for extreme rock crawling. Engage both front and rear lockers for max traction. Time to climb.

This is where the Badlands and Raptor editions excel, thanks to detachable front sway bars allowing their craft to walk up steps like a horse. Without the detachable sway bar option, Everglades is less deft, but that’s where its truck-like rock rails prove their worth.

GRONK! The rails landed on a marble step. ROWWWRRRR! Deft use of the accelerator pedal spun the rear end around, allowing for better grip. RROOOMP! The beast was on to the next step. We gathered around to help each other up the steps. Coaching. Directing. Congratulating.

The steps reward their visitors with a spectacular cliff view of the lake. Freighters dotted the horizon, and beyond that, Cockburn Island, the next step in the archipelago.

At the Marble Steps on Drummond Island, the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades gets a cliff view of Lake Huron.

At this point, I felt like Superman. Is there nothing this Bronc can’t do? I started playing with other electronic toys on Everglades. Trail-turn assist, which brakes the inside wheel to enable quicker rotation on tight trails. One pedal-drive, which allowed me to drive Everglades like the electric Mustang Mach-E.

And my favorite: Trail Control to manage the car’s speed feet-free. Traversing an 800-foot stream bed — 30-inches deep in water — I used only my left hand on the steering wheel’s cruise button.

Then we were on back on our way. The beauty of Bronco and its independent front suspension, of course, is that it makes a good commuter as well as off-road driver. And so we headed back to the ferry at the end of our day. But does the Bronco really need to take a ferry back to the mainland?

How about an amphibious trim so the Bronco can swim across Huron? Maybe they’ll call it the Bronco Mackinac.

2022 Ford Bronco Everglades

Vehicle type: Four-wheel-drive, five-passenger SUV

Price: $54,595, including $1,595 destination fee

Powerplant: 2.3-liter turbo-4 cylinder

Power: 300 horsepower (with premium gas), 325 pound-feet torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 7.0 seconds (Car and Driver); towing capacity, 3,500 pounds

Weight: 5,220 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA 17 city/18 highway/18 combined

Report card

Highs: Well-equipped for off-roading; washable interior

Lows: Plan on doing a lot of washing; pricey

Overall: 4 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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