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By Jim Mateja
November 8, 1987
For 1988, the 5.8 liter V-8 has been converted from carburetion to fuel injection and now all engines offered in the Ford Bronco are fuel injected. The 4.9 liter V-8 remains standard with the 5 and 5.8 liter V-8s optional. We test drove the `88
Bronco with the fuel injected 5.8 and the power boost certainly is immediately noticable. Ford says it will wait one year in order to conduct further testing and get more feedback from consumers before it raises the towing rating on Bronco with the
5.8. But with the power surge from the 5.8 you have to suspect the towing rating will get a hefty boost. The 5.8 is teamed with 3-speed automatic only. There`s a new 5-speed manual for Ford trucks in `88, but for now it`s not offered in
the big Bronco. The four wheel drive Bronco is built on a 104.7 inch wheelbase and is 180.5 inches long overall. It has the size to hold a family of 5 with room to roam for the kids. There`s plenty of space to store luggage space and still give the
kids leg stretching room. The seats are wide, cloth covered, and comfortable. A 3 hour trip from Chicago to Bloomington couldn`t have been more pieceful (the kids had walkmen stuck in their ears). But dad would have had a more enjoyable time if
the full size Bronco had better road holding manners. Added power is great if you feel you have the horses under control. The Bronco sits high and that means a high center of gravity. You don`t want to take corners too fast or too tight because you don`t
feel as if you have the lateral stability to keep the tires glued to the road. The day we traveled was exceedingly windy and the Bronco got bounced around when semis passed us or on those rare occassions we passed semis. The worst feeling was when
we passed under a bridge and for a brief moment no wind slapped the vehicle. But once out from under the concret protection the wind hit the sides with a wallop. Bronco creates less of a strain onthe nerves when the roads are clear and dry than
when the pavement is wet and and the skies windy. Rear wheel antilock brakes are standard and help bring the Bronco to a swift and straight stop. If only ABS could stabilize Bronco when it`s moving. The problems with the big Bronco are similar to
those owners of big vans had to put up with---uneasy road holding ability, poor mileage, shaky handling, turning, cornering, and parking--things that sent so many people into downsized mini vans the last couple of years. The 5.8 is mighty
powerful, but mighty thirsty, too, when it labors. The EPA rating is 12 m.p.g. city/14 m.p.g. highway (1 m.p.g. better highway than with the carbureted 5.8) and the tank holds 32 gallons. A fill is a $32 frill. With the 5.8 and four wheel drive Bronco
has both the power and the ability to take on snow packed roads or off the road trails. But the big Bronco isn`t for everybody. For the adventuresome it`s fine. For construction wor
kers it`s ideal. If you need to pull a trailer, it`s good. But if you need a vehicle for everyday commuting the questionable lateral stability and lackluster fuel economy of the machine doesn`t compare with that of the smaller Bronco II. The
Bronco starts at $14,841.