It's capturing young, active buyers away from these no-nonsense brands.
Launching on the same day as its iconic sibling, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport arrived at dealerships at the end of 2020 and proceeded to rack up 5,120 sales in its first month on the market. In January 2021, sales climbed to 8,050 units. It's still very early in the new SUV's lifecycle, but CarBuzz sat down with Bronco Sport Brand Manager at Ford, Jovina Young, to see how early sales are going. Sharing a name with the upcoming full-size Bronco, we assumed some buyers might be confused by the Bronco Sport nomenclature. As it turns out, this is far from the case.
"People are coming in because they know the Bronco Sport is out. The early adopters that are coming into the showroom are well in-the-know," Young explained. The Bronco Sport targets a very different market than the larger Bronco. Whereas the Bronco is a direct rival to the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco Sport competes with smaller crossovers like the Jeep Compass and Cherokee.
Ford expected to take some sales away from Jeep but the Bronco Sport is appealing to a few unexpected buyers. "I've asked who we've been conquesting," Young told CarBuzz. "I'm hearing across the country that buyers are turning in lifestyle vehicles, people are buying vehicles for the fun of it. When you think of Bronco Sport as spontaneous and fun, that tends to come alive."
A lot of these lifestyle owners are trading in their Jeep vehicles but Young also said, "this is the most we've ever conquested from Subaru owners. We don't typically get Subaru owners." Aside from Toyota, Subaru has some of the most loyal customers in the industry, so stealing sales from that brand is a significant accomplishment.
Ford is still gathering hard numbers on Bronco Sport sales, but anecdotal feedback shows that this new crossover is capturing the target market. "We are starting to see more younger buyers than we've seen in the past and more active customers than we've had in the past," Young told us. "We are bringing in people who may not have considered Ford before."
With an affordable $26,820 starting price for the Bronco Sport Base, it's easy to see why younger buyers are attracted to this rugged crossover. But Young says the Big Bend trim, starting at $28,320, has proved to be the most popular model so far. In fact, dealerships struggle to keep the Outer Banks and Badlands, the two top trim levels, in stock due to customer demand.
"The units are selling between six to eight days," Ford bragged. For reference, it's not uncommon for an average car to sit on a lot for 60 days.
The Bronco Outer Banks start at $32,320, adding more premium features over the Base and Big Bend trims. At $32,820, the Badlands adds more standard off-road equipment, including Trail Control and seven standard G.O.A.T (Goes Over Any Terrain) modes. "The Badlands with the Badlands Package is the hottest one you can get. Customers want it fully-equipped," Young explained. "Based on the popularity, we are building as many as we can."
Ford simplified its offerings on the Bronco Sport with just five trim levels and one equipment package to add on each one. For example, the Badlands Package adds power seats, a B&O audio system, HD radio, dual-zone climate control, a moonroof, remote start, heated steering wheel, wireless charging pad, and more for $2,595.
As for which colors are proving to be the most popular, we were not shocked to learn that the most exciting hue, Cyber Orange, is nowhere near the top three. "The top color right now is Area 51," Young answered. "It's followed by Shadow Black and Cactus Grey. Those three colors make up around half of our sales. Cactus Grey is an interesting color; I think of it as a chameleon. Depending on the sunlight, it can look green. On other days it looks blue. When you see it in person, people love it. I'm glad to see it rounding out the top three."
Like the larger Bronco, Ford may eventually offer new colors and new special edition models in future model years. "It will always be a part of Bronco and Bronco Sport to have various special editions," Young said. This year happens to be the First Edition, but we will continue to have new ones in upcoming model years."