2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Review & Road Test

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The Bronco Sport is a compact SUV built on the same C2 platform as the Escape. But Ford has positioned it as a rugged SUV.

And not some body cladding, graphic package version of rugged either.

This little guy is legit. Ooh, sneak peek!

But first, let’s get the pragmatic details out of the way. The interior is highly functional. There’s storage in-dash, the controls are easy to use, 2nd-row foot space is outstanding as is head room thanks to a stepped roofline.

Up front the seats are soft yet supportive and out back there’s plenty of room and a welcome surprise.

Granted the pass-through is narrow but for quickly tossing items on the cargo pile, the flip-up window is awesome.

From a packaging perspective, the Bronco Sport boasts strong fundamentals. Those positives are reinforced by a sophisticated on-road character.
When simply commuting, cabin noise is inoffensive, and the ride is supple. The Bronco Sport also tracks with great stability both in a straight line and in corners.

Not having to make frequent steering corrections makes for a relaxed ride. If you’d like plentiful power, select the optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine (245hp, 275 lb-ft, fuel econ?) though, by the numbers, the smaller 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine found in lower trims is a perfectly adequate choice (181hp, 190 lb-ft).

Both engines use a competent 8-speed transmission that promptly chooses the right gear when you press the accelerator. Simply put, the Bronco Sport is a pleasure to drive even if you never take it off-road.

No joke, the Ford Bronco Sport is legit off-road. For starters, 4-wheel drive is standard. With the 1.5-liter engine, you get basic 4-wheel drive plus 5 drive modes that Ford calls GOAT modes, as in Goes Over Any Terrain. The 2.0-liter engine offers 7 ‘Goat’ modes including a rock crawl mode plus an upgraded all-wheel-drive system with a locking twin-clutch rear drive unit, similar to the one found in the Focus RS. And hey, good news everybody, we’re driving the 2.0-liter.

With all those details on the table, hows bout we subject the Bronco Sport’s componentry to the real world?

Just keep up your momentum and the Bronco Sport is an undeniable blast on the sand. But when folks think about off-roading maybe they don’t think of sand. Maybe they have visions of epically craggy mountain trails.

Suburbia, sand, and summit. The Ford Bronco Sport appears to do it all. In cheapest form you can snag a Base trim for not quite $28,000 including destination charges and standard gear like cloth seats, 4 USB ports, an 8-inch infotainment screen, and the Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite of active driver assists.

Choose the heartier Badlands trim with the 2.0-liter Ecoboost and that sweet twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system and you’re looking at nearly $34k.

To round things out here are some random observations from my time in the Bronco Sport. -The high hood makes the Sport seem more substantial from the driver seat than it really is. -Visibility of the driver’s right shoulder is impeded by a thick C-pillar and the headrest.

The rear quarters are roomy but I wish the headrest wasn’t so close and the seatbacks had a recline function.

For loading child seats, wider opening rear doors would be nice.
As for infotainment, the 8-inch Sync 3 system is simple and functional. Incorporating a color besides blue might spice things up but overall the system works well.
One last detail, the vents open and close with a nice little click. Looks like Ford’s been peeking at the Mercedes-Benz tactile interior playbook.

Among the competition there are plenty of well-regarded alternatives; Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Hyundai Tucson to name a few. But add all-wheel-drive and their prices land roughly in line with the Bronco Sport.

The Sport also occupies the interesting end of the ruggedness spectrum, adding to its desirability. Speaking of, if you compare to, let’s say, the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, you’d actually save money going with the Bronco Sport Badlands instead.

The Ford Bronco Sport is practical, comfortable, and, depending on the trim, more capable off-road than it needs to be.
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