This is not the new 2021 Ford Bronco. But it is its little brother; the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Based on the Ford Escape, the Bronco Sport was designed to be a more on-road crossover but with more off-road capability than other traditional crossovers.
Engine – The Bronco Sport is available with two engine options; A 1.5L turbocharged 3-cylinder or a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder as equipped in this top spec Badlands trim. This 2.0L engine produces 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque (186 kW & 375 Nm). In a crossover that tips the scales at 1,684 kg (3,712 lbs), this engine doesn’t provide neck snapping performance but it’s more than enough for everyday commuting or weekend off-roading. Torque is low down in the rpm range which means that the engine doesn’t need to strain to get the Bronco Sport moving.
It’s also a fairly economical engine. It is rated for 8.9 L/100km (26.4 MPG) on a highway and 11.1 L/100km (21.2 MPG) in a city. During my time with the Ford Bronco Sport, I averaged 9.1 L/100km (25.8 MPG). Best of all, the engine doesn’t require premium fuel.
Transmission – Paired with the engine is an 8-speed automatic transmission which surprised me at first because Ford likes to use 10-speed automatic transmissions. But regardless of the extra gears or not, this 8-speed does its job well. Shifts between gears are smooth and it always selects the correct gear when you decide to put your foot down. The only minor fault is that it’s slow to react if you decide to use the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Braking – The brakes are strong on the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. It takes little effort of the brake pedal to stop the Bronco Sport under normal driving conditions. Furthermore, the pedal itself is nice & firm.
The Bronco Sport is equipped with Trail Control which is like cruise control but when off-roading. It works at speeds of 1 km/h to 32 km/h (1mph – 20 mph) in forward and 1 km/h to 9 km/h (1 mph – 6 mph) in reverse. It keeps the Bronco Sport moving at a constant speed so that you focus on the road rather than the speed. I tried this while doing some light off-roading and it works brilliantly, especially downhill and it allowed me to keep my foot off the brake pedal.
Handling – On the roads, the Ford Bronco Sport handles like most other crossover SUVs. Steering is quick and while there is some body roll, it’s nothing that will make it feel as though the Bronco Sport is going to roll over.
Off the beaten path, the Bronco Sport shines when compared to other crossovers. For a start, it is only available with AWD regardless of trim or engine option. This top spec Badlands trim comes equipped with a center locking differential, an advanced locking rear differential, taller ride height (8.8-inches of ground clearance), underbody protection, and chunky all-terrain tires.
The Bronco Sport is also equipped with G.O.A.T. modes (Goes Over Any Type of terrain). The crossover has the usual Normal, Eco, Sport, & Slippery modes for on-road driving. But when off-road you can use Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl modes for better off-road maneuverability and traction.
Ride Comfort – While the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is based on the Ford Escape, it uses a slightly shorter wheelbase. This does make it a bit better off-road but it has an adverse effect when it comes to on-road comfort. The Bronco Sport feels a bit rougher over bumps on city streets than the Escape. The ride is not as supple. It’s still something that you could live with on a daily basis but if you’re looking for the utmost comfort, a more traditional crossover SUV will provide a better ride.
Interior Space – The shortened wheelbase is also to blame for the reduced legroom; particularly in the back seats. In the front, there’s enough space for adults but in the back, it’s definitely tighter than in the Escape. Headroom, however, is plentiful thanks to the higher roofline as well as the stepped roof in the back seats.
Cargo volume is similar to that of the Escape and the Bronco has a few tricks up its sleeve in the back. Firstly, the liftgate window can be opened separately to the liftgate itself. Once open, there are not only lights to illuminate the trunk area but there are also a couple of lights on the inside of the liftgate to shine downwards if you’re having a “liftgate” party. Next, the Bronco Sport can be optioned with a cargo management system that can act as a divider, a shelf, and table with leg stands to hold up to 13 kg (30 lbs).
As for space in the trunk area, the Ford Bronco Sport has 920 L (32.5 cu-ft) with the rear seats up and 1,846 L (65.2 cu-ft) with the rear seats down. These numbers are maximum cargo capacity without the moonroof.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – With the boxy shape of the Bronco Sport and all-terrain tires, it can get a bit noisy inside the cabin when driving on highways. It’s not absurdly loud but you will have to raise your voice a bit to talk with passengers. Engine noise, however, is well muted at lower to mid rpms.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport starts at $32,299 CAD ($27,215 USD) and for that price you basically get an off-road ready platform. It comes with the 1.5L 3-cylinder engine, 4×4, G.O.A.T. modes, Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 and that’s about it. It’s basic off-roading capability without any of the garnish. If you do want all the bells & whistles, you can opt for this top Badlands trim that has every convenience & luxury feature to make off-roading a bit more comfortable. It is equipped with things like leather seats, sunroof, 6.5” instrument cluster, 17” wheels, heated seats & steering wheel, tougher off-road suspension with an increased ride height, two extra G.O.A.T. modes & the 2.0L engine. It costs a pretty reasonable $40,299 CAD ($33,360 USD).
The infotainment system is not the new SYNC 4 that is featured in the new Ford F-150 but this SYNC 3 system still works well. It takes a bit to load on cold starts but once it does, it’s responsive to your fingertip inputs. Apple CarPlay & Android Auto are standard features but are not wireless.
Interior Design – The interior is easily recognizable as a Ford vehicle. It has a lot of the same switches & knobs that are found in other Ford crossovers. It’s also utilitarian. There are a lot of storage compartments and while there are quite a few plastics throughout the cabin, they’re mostly relegated to the lower portions. The portions that you mainly touch are either leather (in this Badlands trim) or a rubberized material that is designed to be easily wiped down. Speaking of which, if you remove the carpets, you can easily hose down the floor after a messy day in mud.
Exterior Design – The Ford Bronco Sport incorporates quite a bit of design from its bigger Bronco brother as well as Land Rover… at least to my eyes. The front is easily recognizable as a Bronco because it says “Bronco” on the grille. Some have mistaken it for the full size Bronco. Around the side, it starts to look a bit like the Land Rover Discovery or Defender with the stepped roofline and the C-pillar that has a bit of a resemblance to those vehicles. In the back it clearly states what model Bronco this is and it has short overhangs for better departure angles. Overall, it is a good looking crossover SUV.
Warranty – The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport comes with a 3 year / 60,000 km new vehicle warranty and a 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. Corrosion resistance warranty, however, is only 5 years & unlimited km. For more information on Ford Warranty, click here.
Overall the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is a crossover SUV that I liked more than I thought I would. It’s not meant to be as tough and as rugged as its bigger brother but it can hold its own on rougher roads that you wouldn’t want to take a normal crossover like the Ford Escape or Honda CR-V for example. It’s not as comfortable on city roads as those types of crossovers but if you’re the type of person who likes to go on hikes every weekend out in the wilderness where it’s usually only accessible by rutted service roads, the Ford Bronco Sport is the crossover SUV that I’d want to be in.
Thank you to Ford Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Ford.ca