The Car Connection Ford Bronco Sport Overview
With the Bronco Sport, Ford plucks a name from its off-roading past and applies it to an all-wheel-drive crossover that shares some running gear with the latest Escape.
The 2021 Bronco Sport offers a choice between a turbo-3 or turbo-4 engine to take on vehicles like the Jeep Compass and Cherokee. It's a companion for the new Ford Bronco, a larger truck-based vehicle that's spun off from the Ranger pickup.
MORE: Read our 2021 Bronco Sport review
Ford taps heritage design cues to distinguish the Bronco Sport from the Escape. The new Bronco Sport's laden with flat body panels, right angles, and a tiered roofline that lifts head room in the rear row of seats. In front, round lighting flanks a razor-style grille that looks like the '60s original, as do its vertical taillights, while other lines recall the Land Rover family of off-roaders once owned by Ford. Inside, Ford plunks an 8.0-inch screen in the middle of a flat, plain dash with glints of chrome and color, depending on the design and equipment theme chosen: base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition.
The Bronco Sport seats up to five passengers, but the rear-seat passengers have about 4.0 inches less leg room than in the Escape. Though 8.6 inches shorter in length than the Ford Escape, the total cargo volume is nearly identical at 65 cubic feet. The boxed end permits it to load two 27.5-inch-wheel mountain bikes behind the front passengers, and rubberized flooring can keep the interior clear. It's fitted with a flip-up glass section in its tailgate for easy loading, and a slide-out cargo tray has a second life as a mobile stand-up desk.
Ford taps its latest inline engines for Bronco Sport performance. The base 181-horsepower engine is a 1.5-liter turbo-3, and it's teamed with an 8-speed automatic that can be reluctant to shift under heavy throttle. For more power, Ford sells a 245-hp turbo-4 and fits the same transmission with paddle shifters and a transmission cooler. The Bronco Sport's all-wheel-drive system gets an advanced twin-clutch differential at the rear on top models, and all versions have a terrain-management system with traction programs for specific conditions, from sand to mud, to rocks.
The Bronco Sport can tow up to 2,200 pounds, and can ford as much as 23.6 inches of water. Special adaptive cruise control has a low-speed rock-crawl mode, and an off-road camera shows drivers obstacles near the front wheels when a spotter's not available.
With an independent suspension front and rear, and 17- or 18-inch wheels, the Bronco Sport digs into the parts bin for rugged off-road performance: Badlands and First Edition versions get softer springs, retuned struts, and monotube rear shocks for better off-road capability.
The Bronco Sport interior wears some dog-whistle signals to the camping crowd—Molle straps and LED flood lights—but it also can be fitted with B&O sound, leather upholstery, and voice-activated navigation. Standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, automatic emergency braking, power features, and blind-spot monitors.