2021 Ford Bronco Sport
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2021 Ford Bronco Sport Review

The return of the Ford Bronco in 2021 got off-road enthusiasts talking, but the smaller Bronco Sport also wears the famous nameplate, bringing off-road capability to an everyday, compact-SUV package. Here, we put the range-topping Badlands model to the test.

Key Features:

  • Rugged styling
  • Practical interior design
  • Off-road capability

Direct Competitors:

  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Jeep Compass
  • Subaru Crosstrek

To develop the Bronco Sport, Ford started with the underpinnings of the big-selling Escape but gave it all-new sheet metal, a new interior and beefed-up running gear to tackle the trails. The result is a very different and much tougher vehicle.

New Bronco Sport pricing and trims

  • Base: $32,299
  • Big Bend: $34,299
  • Outer Banks: $37,799
  • Badlands: $40,299 (as tested here)

2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Photo: Ford 

The Bronco range starts with the Base model at $32,299, offering a 1.5-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder turbo engine, 4WD and Co-Pilot360 safety technologies. For an extra $2,000, Big Bend adds heated front seats, a rubberized cargo floor, remote start and zipper map pockets with a MOLLE strap system. 

The Outer Banks ($37,799) prioritizes luxury with leather trim inside, black accents outside and a 6.5in colour LCD instrument panel. Additional equipment packages are available for Big Bend and Outer Banks.

Badlands is the equivalent of Jeep’s Trailhawk sub-brand. The $40,299 Bronco Sport Badlands tested here gets a 2-litre EcoBoost motor and greater off-road capability from an upgraded 4x4 system with twin-clutch rear drive, retuned suspension, extra drive modes, greater ground clearance and Falken all-terrain tires.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport interior and equipment

2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Photo: Ford 

Inside and out, we think the Bronco Sport shows greater imagination in its design than an Escape, like the 2021 hybrid model we reviewed here. The interior is full of neat touches – the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from Jeep and the other Stellantis brands but wouldn’t necessarily associate with Ford.

On the infotainment side, the Bronco start-up screen animation is fun. The interface for the SYNC 3 suite is intuitive enough and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.

We also liked the suede-like seat material and embossed Bronco logos. Rear headroom is generous, but we’d have liked more rear legroom. Unfortunately, there’s no means to expand it, Escape-style, via a sliding second-row bench.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Photo: Ford 

Designed with cargo space in mind

The impression is that, in keeping with the vehicle’s outdoor persona, cargo carrying has been prioritized over maximizing passenger space – a reasonable call, given that many Bronco Sports will likely be packed with two people and their gear on the weekend. 

With the rear seats folded flat for example, two mountain bikes will fit vertically beneath the high, safari roof using a dealer-supplied Yakima rack.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Photo: Ford 

At the very back the two-piece tailgate opening is a neat and practical feature. Thoughtful design features include built-in directable floodlights to help you keep track of gear in poor light. Long grab handles double as rails to hang towels or clothing and there’s even a bottle opener.

Over 100 Bronco Sport accessories to step it up

For anyone looking to tailor their Bronco Sport to their preferred pastime, Ford has more than 100 accessories with which to personalize your vehicle – everything from fender flares to roof-rail crossbars, a rooftop tent, kayak carriers or a cargo management system that splits up the cargo area and doubles as a table.

Bronco Sport Badlands performance & fuel economy

Given its Escape roots, it’s no surprise that the Bronco Sport Badlands felt maneuverable around town. However, on paved roads the all-terrain tires occasionally betray their wider purpose through a bouncy ride or inconsistent steering feeling.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Photo: Ford 

You might be glad of the EcoBoost’s 250 HP and 277 lb-ft when fully laden, but we weren’t blown away by our recorded average of 12.2L/100km around town. Even the official combined consumption of 10.1L/100km feels like a lot of fuel for a compact vehicle. 

The power delivery wasn’t always smooth, either, with a jerky response at times from the combination of turbo four-cylinder/8-speed auto.

Verdict: is Ford’s new adventure-ready, compact Bronco SUV worth it?

Whether the Bronco Sport makes sense for you will depend on how you plan to use it. Most compact SUVs are essentially high-riding road cars designed for everyday urban use. 

The Bronco Sport, especially here in Badlands guise, is a little different. It doesn’t feel completely at home in the city, but Ford went the extra mile during development to ensure that its off-road performance lives up to the Bronco name, backed up by a practical, flexible interior. 

If you regularly spend time in the great outdoors, it has a depth that most mainstream crossover SUVs cannot offer.

Here’s a look at all our current SUV and crossovers available for sale

2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Photo: Ford 

Specs: 2021 Bronco Sport Badlands

Standard Engine

1.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged three-cylinder with direct injection

Optional Engine

2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder with direct injection

Power & Torque

1.5L engine: targeted 181-hp at 6,000 rpm, 190 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm

2.0L engine: 245-hp at 5,500 rpm, 275 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm

Transmission

1.5L engine: 8-speed automatic

Optional with 2.0L engine: 8-speed SelectShift automatic with oil cooler
and manual shifting mode with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters

Wheelbase (Bronco Badlands)

105.1 inches

Lenght (Badlands)

172.7 inches

Maximum Towing (Badlands)

2,200 pounds

Maximum Payload

1,000 pounds

Ground Clearance (Badlands)

8.8 (with optional 29-inch A/T tires)

Approach Angle (Badlands)

30.4 (with optional 29-inch A/T tires)

Tires (Badlands)

Standard: 28.5-inch 225/65R17 Pirelli Scorpion A/T (full-size spare included)

Optional: 29-inch 235/65R17 Falken Wildpeak A/T (full-size spare included)

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