The base price in Canada for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is $32,199 in Canada, $26,820 in the US.
The Bronco Sport is the hottest new small SUV and everyone wants to know about it.
Ford is promoting the Bronco Sport as a very capable off-roader.
This review of the all-new hotly-anticipated 2021 Ford Bronco Sport will probably not be like the others. Yes, I did do some mild off-roading, but what I really focused on was how it fit my family.
I first came face-to-face with the new Bronco Sport last summer and only one look was needed to be convinced that it will be a hot-ticket item. On styling alone, the 2021 Bronco Sport is a knockout. Ford’s focus on making the Sport a Bronco is a mark of genius and the designers deserve a considerable amount of praise.
Fantastic and authentic styling
The best way to quantify a good design is when onlookers know what they are looking at without knowing what it is they are staring at. In other words, they knew they were gawking at something special, a Bronco, without having ever seen one before.
The Bronco Sport’s safari roof, long hood, familiar grille, and proportions poke our collective nostalgia – no one can suitably criticize the design. What I will however note that there’s a consequence to ensuring the Sport’s ideal footprint. As we know, the Bronco Sport is based on the same platform as the Escape but Ford’s done a little chopping to ensure that form gets all the attention, at the expense of function.
Not for small families
The Bronco Sport is 200mm shorter overall than the Escape and its wheelbase is down 40mm. The direct result of this is a rear seating area that loses out in legroom. If you have a small family with children who still require baby or booster seats, they will not be happy. Even in my very forward driving position, my 2-year old daughter’s feet easily reach my seatback. Trunk volume is better than decent however it’s not realistically larger than the Escape’s as it loses depth in exchange for less-than-accessible height. As such, be warned, this is not a young-family-oriented SUV. On the other hand, the Ford Escape is.
If I continue the comparison, the Bronco Sports dashboard is rugged and stylish, in stark contrast with the Escape’s layout. The standard 8-inch touchscreen and SYNC3 are perfectly adequate and I’m relieved to report that my week-long loan of the SUV returned no infotainment issues, unlike my experience with the Lincoln Aviator.
Badlands for the engine
In fact, the only bother I noted was the Bronco Sport smelling “hot” after my very brief stint (total time in the snow of under one minute) driving through deep wet snow, as seen in my video (I know the sound is bad). I’ve read a few stories about AWD issues including overheating but all was fine with my SUV.
The base Sport, with the turbocharged 1.5-litre 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine, features a standard single-clutch AWD system best suited for city duty, like most all other urban-focused small SUVs. The Badlands trim, the tested unit, might as well be a different model altogether.
The crucial difference is the included turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Ecoboost engine. With 250 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, this Bronco Sport is a very complete all-rounder. Under typical driving situations, its power makes for a very quick little SUV. The 8-speed automatic is flawless no matter what is requested of it.
And the Badlands for all other reasons
What also differentiates the Badlands is its superior 4×4 system with a twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock feature. Also included is additional cooling for the transmission and the rear-drive setup. As well, on top of the standard five G.O.A.T drive modes, the Badlands gains Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes. To put it succinctly, there’s nowhere the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk can go that the Badlands can’t.
What’s more, and this is my favorite part, the Badlands is endowed with a specifically-tuned chassis with hydraulic rebound stops and larger rear shocks, both designed for a smoother off-road experience. The real upside is that the Bronco Sport turns out to be borderline cosseting on a paved road.
Honestly, Badlands or risk being disappointed, but…
The Badlands package, at $40,199 in Canada, $32,820, is without hesitation the most interesting and appealing of the lineup. While all four trims more or less look alike, the Badlands’ included drivetrain is the only way to satisfy expectations. Although the 3-cylinder has power, the noise, vibrations, and harshness are unnerving. And, there will be no real-world fuel-economy advantage.
Perhaps the most important discovery I made about the new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is that it is not well suited for young family duty. The rear doors offer but a narrow opening and the space for rear occupants is narrow.
It can be difficult to compare the Bronco Sport to any other compact SUV. I fully understand the power of its image and design, but it will come at a price. The alternative could be a Toyota RAV4 Trail for the rugged look or many other compact SUVs such as the Subaru Forester and Outback, Mazda CX-5, and Nissan Rogue.