Are you an off-road enthusiast that is looking to enter Ford’s Bronco sub-brand but prefer to have an SUV that is smaller and more urban friendly? If so, Ford has unveiled a very potent answer with the all new 2021 Bronco Sport which aims to bring ruggedness, style and capability into a decidedly more compact footprint.
The exterior styling of the Sport might not have some of the retro flavor that defines the bigger Bronco, but don’t let that fool you, it is still a very distinctive little SUV. The canvas does take a lot of DNA from the first generation Bronco, with the front fascia doing a very good impression of its big brother right down to the round LED front headlamps.
The compact proportions do little to mitigate the visual impact on observers, with the side profile being very neat and tidy. The rear fascia is dominated by a tailgate mounted Bronco Sport logo in the center of the gate, with chunky tail lights and a form fitting rear bumper contributing to the boxy look. Unlike the standard Bronco which is based on the Ford Ranger pickup, the baby Bronco is based on the Escape CUV, but you would be forgiven if you didn’t realize that at first glance due to how well the Sport makes the most out of these humble origins.
Tough unpainted surfaces cover exterior contact points, and that in turn provides some protection, while also maintaining the squared off look.
The Bronco Sport also doesn’t lose ground to its big sibling in terms of customization, with more than 100 accessories being offered at launch, including some that allow the Sport to be equipped to handle hauling items such as skis and kayaks. Ford also revealed that the littler Bronco was designed to haul two mountain bikes standing up in the cargo area, with the cabin still having room for two front passengers.
Citing the need to fulfill “human-centered” design requirements, the cabin of the Sport brings a number of unique features to buyers. These include zippered rear seat pockets, LED flood lamps in the rear tailgate, MOLLE straps to help carry extra gear, and even a built in bottle opener located in the rear cargo area.
The boxy shape makes its mark in interior space, with the cabin offering segment leading first and second row headroom. The Sport can also serve as a mobile basecamp thanks to a sliding rear table which is part of the five-way Cargo Management system, as well as a 400 watt inverter that helps power gear and mobile devices.
Ford wanted to ensure that cleaning up after an adventure was a snap, and like the bigger Bronco, the Sport’s cabin is built with rugged materials. This is turned up a notch, with Badlands and First Edition models featuring rubberized floors, easy-to-clean cloth seating surfaces, and silicone-sealed switches.
A large storage bin under the second row helps provide room for gear, and can withstand the rigors of water, ice, and mud. But Ford made sure to make technology a key focal point for the Bronco Sport, and that includes a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system powered by the company’s SYNC 3 software. The system supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and even comes equipped with Ford+Alexa functionality, and standard satellite radio.
Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver’s aides also comes along for the ride, and is standard across the entire Bronco Sport lineup. This arsenal of technology includes Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, automatic high beams, and a rear backup camera.
Performance for the Sport comes from a duo of engines, and it depends on what trim level you pick. Badlands and Forst Edition models are motivated by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that makes 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, Base, Big Bend and Outer Banks models make do with a 1.5-literEcoBoost four-cylinder that makes 181 horsepower, and a commendable 190 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic and while this is the sole transmission choice available,
First Edition and Badlands models add Ford’s SelectShift technology which brings steering wheel mounted paddle shifters to help provide drivers with more control on and off the road. The 2.0 liter also features additional transmission and rear drive coolers that help them last longer when pushed to their limits out on the trail. Badlands models come equipped with 28.5 inch all-terrain tires, but First Edition models feature 29-inch all-terrain tires that offer a deeper and more aggressive tread design that actually stretches to the sidewalls. This helps improve traction slightly, and it should make a difference when pushing the Forst Edition through slippery terrain.
Unlike the standard Bronco, Ford did not reveal pricing information for the Sport, however, the company did confirm that the model is also subject to the same reservation program as the standard Bronco, with buyers being able to reserve one with an early $100 deposit. Look for the 2021 Bronco Sport to arrive in dealerships later this year.
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