2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Look Review: Bronco-Lite

First Look / Comments

The iconic Bronco look in a more road-friendly package.

There is a very small portion of the car-buying population who enjoys taking their vehicles through grueling off-road challenges on weekends. For these people, the recently-reveled 2021 Ford Bronco with its capable 4x4 system and available 35-inch tires should do nicely. But Ford knows that there is also a large segment of people who will never take their vehicle on the Rubicon trail and for those buyers, it has created the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport.

Though it shares the Bronco name, the Bronco Sport shares more in common with the Ford Escape. This means it can't possibly match the off-road capability of its bigger brother but with decent ground clearance and standard four-wheel-drive, the Bronco Sport should be a perfect match for adventure seekers who enjoy outdoor activities.

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Rugged Good Looks

Much like the Jeep Renegade, the Bronco Sport looks to capture the rugged appearance of its larger sibling and condense it down to a more cutesy package. The upright boxy design should appeal to adventure seekers that want the rugged styling but don't need the added capability of the big Bronco. Short front and rear overhangs ensure up to 8.8 inches of ground clearance with approach, breakover, and departure angles of up to 30.4, 20.4, and 33.1 inches.

Each of the five trim levels - Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition - offers different styling features. Opting for the Badlands trim level adds 28.5-inch all-terrain tires while the First Edition ups the size to 29 inches.

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A Handsome Cabin

The Bronco Sport's cabin looks a bit more rugged and versatile than the similarly-sized Escape. There are plenty of little storage areas for your items including a space located under the standard eight-inch SYNC 3 infotainment system. The screen includes standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, though there is no mention of wireless connectivity. Upper trim levels get access to features such as heated leather seats, power moonroof, 10-speaker B&O sound system, 6.5-inch digital instrument screen, and rubberized floors.

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Adventure-Ready Practicality

Ford has not published SAE-rated cargo capacity numbers just yet but the Bronco Sport looks like it was designed with practicality in mind. The car will launch with more than 100 factory-backed and aftermarket accessories including four lifestyle accessory bundles for bike, snow, water, or camping. The rear cargo area is large enough to accommodate two full-size mountain bikes and features a configurable cargo management system for improved versatility. Other clever features include a flip-glass rear window, roof rack, slide-out table, and liftgate floodlamps.

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Enough Power To Escape

Two engines will be available, both of which are borrowed from the Escape. A 1.5-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder acts as the base motor with 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque while an optional 2.0-liter four-cylinder (also turbocharged) brings the output to 245 hp and 275 lb-ft. Both engines send power to standard 4WD through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Towing is not the Bronco Sport's forte with just 2,200 pounds of hauling capability but it should fair pretty well at light off-roading. The 4WD system features a twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock. On higher trims, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl driving modes should help the Bronco Sport tackle trails.

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Pricing & Competition

Pricing for the base Bronco Sport starts at $28,155 (including delivery), making it more expensive than mainstream crossovers like the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Toyota RAV4. In terms of off-road prowess, the Bronco Sport compares to the Jeep Compass and Cherokee Trailhawk, which offer similar size, off-road capability, and rugged styling. Jeep has a foothold on the adventure-seeking demographic but it looks like Ford is ready to cut in on the action.

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