Ford did an exceedingly rare thing when it debuted the new Bronco: it gave the car a new seven-speed manual transmission. (It's really a six-speed with a low-speed crawler gear, but hey, seven speeds are seven speeds.) And it turns out that was the right decision: as spotted by CarBuzz, a Ford designer recently noted that 18 percent of Bronco orders so far have been for the stick shift version.
That manual take rate for the Bronco is impressive, considering how few people choose those transmissions. Even the Jeep Wrangler — often seen as the sort of vehicle where traditional enthusiasts would want a manual transmission — only has about 10% of buyers opting for the stick shift. That's enough to keep it in the lineup, but not enough for Jeep to bother adding the option for new Wranglers like the EcoDiesel. Really, it's only driver's cars like the Subaru WRX, the Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Volkswagen GTI that will exceed the Bronco's 18-percent take rate.
And the Bronco manual take rate is particularly interesting because the stick is only available on the smaller 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. About 60 percent of Bronco buyers are reportedly leveling up to the larger 2.7-liter V6 plant, which suggests that close to half of 2.3-liter Bronco buyers are going stick. And at least initially, you weren't going to be able to pair the seven-speed manual transmission with the more badass-looking off-roading Sasquatch package, either.
It's not certain whether the Bronco will sustain that manual take rate. Fans and enthusiasts probably form a high percentage of early adopters pre-ordering the SUV before it enters production; in the long-term, buyers looking for a cool family car will likely make up a higher percentage of the Bronco customer base. 18 percent may not be enough for Ford to do something crazy with the vehicle, like add a manual for the V6 — but that number is well beyond the threshold for keeping a manual around in the lineup, which, in 2021, is all you can ask for.