The 2021 Ford Bronco competes with the Jeep Wrangler in a plethora of ways—doors off, roof off, manual transmission, off-road heroics, boxy looks—but as far as I can immediately tell, it beats the Wrangler in one major way: The freaking wing mirrors stay on when you take the doors off!
The process of putting the mirrors on the body instead of on the doors like everyone else does was not a simple one, according to the Bronco’s chief designer, Paul Wraith. There were a lot of things to consider—but ultimately, I do think it was the right call.
Last summer, I reviewed a Jeep Gladiator and thought I’d take the doors off for fun. As soon as I started driving, I quickly learned—as all my Wrangler and Gladiator readers likely know already—I had no more wing mirrors to rely on since they come off with the doors. It was very frustrating and I didn’t think it was the safest design out there, either. Wing mirrors are extremely handy! Of course, you can always buy a set separate of wing mirrors and put them on yourself when you go doorless, but that seems like a solution you’re on the hook for to a problem of Jeep’s own making.
When you take the doors off the new Bronco, not only are they far smaller and more compact due to their frameless design, but you also leave the wing mirrors behind, as they are body-mounted and not door-mounted. (For a how-to guide on how to remove the doors, click here!) Outside of the attractive fender mirrors on vintage cars, I can’t really think of any other modern vehicle that has body-mounted mirrors except for, like, the Ferrari Enzo.
But for Wraith and his team, it wasn’t just a matter of deciding to move the mirrors one day and then doing it. To put it plainly, it was very damn hard. Lots of stuff had to be considered in a process that sounded like a non-stop domino-effect. “It was one of the most complicated parts of the vehicle,” Wraith told me during the Bronco’s media preview event last week. As it turns out, the base of the A-pillar is a really hot area for many things to come together. “We found in the design process everything is arguing for attention,” Wraith said, listing them off. “The A-pillar structure, the airbag, visibility of the mirror, the air vents. Everything is jostling for position.”