2021 Ford Bronco Sync 4 Off-Road GPS Navigation System Explained

2021 Ford Bronco Sync 4 Off-Road GPS Navigation System Explained

If you want to go out into the woods, the desert or the mud with a Ford Bronco 2021, you will be happy to know that the company has an integrated solution to help you get home – no external GPS device is necessary. The new Bronco has features built into its SYNC 4 system that will allow users to create, share and navigate off-road routes directly from the integrated 8.0 or 12.0 inch central infotainment screen – just the thing to define this new all-terrain SUV apart from its competitors (ahem, Jeep Wrangler!). We have simulated what this non-nav configuration might look like above, using information about the maps the system will use.

Before we delve further into the (admittedly limited) details we have about this system and how it will work, the integration here is the best part. No dedicated GPS device – phone, tablet, or laptop running GPS software – is required, preventing a variety of problems. Forget a charging cable and your phone with Google Maps is running out of juice, and you could be stuck looking at your backup paper topographic maps. You brought some, right?

Even if Ford’s system isn’t the owner’s primary navigation device, it could be an incredibly practical backup if their preferred external system loses signal, for example, in dense woods or a steep canyon. Maybe the Bronco system will have a signal, maybe not, but two tracking devices are always better than one.

In addition, we know that the system will allow the downloading of GPS data files created by common navigation programs, such as .GPX files that many popular devices from Garmin, Nüvi and applications like Gaia use. This means that you don’t have to use a Ford interface to create GPS routes, although you can certainly do so. Being able to download a GPS file means that you can also share it with other people who are coming for your trip, so that you are all using the same track, regardless of the track navigation system they use.

It looks like an updated version of the FordPass interface, called FordPass Performance, is the way Bronco owners “plan, navigate, and share” GPS information. Exactly what FordPass Performance can do is unclear, although Ford has confirmed that this interface is the way owners will download GPS files. It’s a safe bet that owners will also be able to edit and download routes and files. Whether this feature works offline is also an open question.

Ford also says there are preloaded trail maps that should work offline, recording the route as you go. But which cards does the Ford Bronco use? The NeoTreks AccuTerra topographic map set, which is also an optional map on popular outdoor navigation programs such as BackCountry Navigator, Gaia and Singletracks. It is a sharper version of the traditional topographic map, with a clear appearance and a color palette more similar to Google terrain maps than, say, the old-fashioned USGS topographic maps. It includes more than 250,000 tracks and covers the entire U.S. If you want a glimpse of what AccuTerra might look like on the Ford Bronco, you can play with the topo version of the map on the AccuTerra website.

Ford says trail information for Trails Offroad and FunTreks will also be included. The former includes detailed trail information, including trail reports and basic details, as well as the ability to download .GPX files for specific trails and get detailed route information. FunTreks provides a similar amount of information on various trails. The amount of information available online for subscribers or account holders that will be integrated into Bronco’s special SYNC 4 system is not entirely clear at the moment, but it should give Bronco owners more information about the trails than a typical external GPS device. Ford says this track guide information will cover “more than 1,000” tracks.

A Ford spokesperson told us that more information about this system or how it works will only be available closer to launch, but the system looks incredibly promising. The proof will be how it actually works in practice, and especially to get out of the hinterland. When there is no cellular signal and your backup GPS device dies, how robust will Ford’s integrated solution be? Based on what we see, we hope it will be enough for most Bronco buyers to leave their other device at home. We can’t wait to try this system – and the Bronco itself – on a few distant tracks soon.

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