The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport starts at $32,299 in Canada and at $27,215 in the United States before freight and delivery charges.
Undeniable versatility, off-road capabilities, rugged good looks.
Rear seatbacks don’t recline, grumpy 1.5L engine, high price for a subcompact crossover.
The all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport arrives in the subcompact utility vehicle segment, and unlike several competitors that offer outdoorsy appearance packages, this little truck is the real deal—a genuine off-road-ready vehicle.
By reintroducing the iconic Ford Bronco to finally give the Jeep Wrangler a true nemesis, the American brand wisely chose to develop a smaller model that shares the Ford Escape’s architecture, but borrows the bigger Bronco’s design elements. The result is a new model that cost less to bring to market, and that could very well bring new customers to Ford.
In fact, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport could even steal sales away from the Escape that has adopted a rounder, softer appearance since its redesign for the 2020 model year. Also, the current market trend favours more rugged looking crossovers and SUVs that flaunt—real or fake—off-road capabilities. The Bronco Sport boasts a squared-off and robust look, with very short overhangs allowing for approach and departure angles of 21.7 and 30.4 degrees respectively for the base, Big Bends and Outer Banks trim levels, and of 30.0 and 32.8 degrees for the Badlands and U.S.-only First Edition variants. Among subcompact models, only the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk and Jeep Compass Trailhawk can do better.
Two powertrains are available. In the base, Big Bends and Outer Banks, we get a turbocharged 1.5L three-cylinder engine that develops 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque, matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. In the Badlands and the now-discontinued First Edition trims, there’s a turbo 2.0L four with 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet.
With the 1.5L engine, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport carries a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 8.9 L/100 km in the Canada and 26 mpg in the U.S., while the 2.0L engine’s ratings are 10.1 L/100 km and 23 mpg. During our test of the Badlands edition, we obtained exactly what the official ratings promised with a mix of city and highway driving.
Obviously, all-wheel drive is standard in the Bronco Sport, which includes a drive mode system that’s pretty much the industry norm today. Called G.O.A.T. for Goes Over Any Type of Terrain, the system serves up five settings in base, Big Bends and Outer Banks variants: Sand, Slippery, Sport, Eco and Normal. The more capable Badlands edition adds the Rock Crawl and Mud/Ruts settings.
The Badlands also benefits from a 4×4 lock mode with a fixed 50/50 torque split, a rear differential lock and a speed limiter for clearing more treacherous terrain. In a nutshell, we’re looking at a very capable vehicle off the beaten path, and at last, a worthy rival to the Jeep models that have been the longtime champs in this regard.
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport retails from to $32,299 to $46,299 in Canada before freight and delivery charges, and from $27,217 to $38,755 in the United States. It competes with the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the Nissan Qashqai/Rogue Sport, the Hyundai Kona, the Kia Seltos, the Subaru Crosstrek and the aforementioned Jeeps.
Why You Should Buy a 2021 Ford Bronco Sport
- It looks good. Off-road-ready utility vehicles are trending right now, and the Bronco Sport fits that market shift perfectly.
- Many small crossovers offer all-wheel drive, but few can hit the trails and return to the beaten path unscathed. The little Ford has all right gear and capabilities to have fun off road. In addition, the turbo 2.0L engine is among the most powerful engines in the subcompact class.
- Cargo space is tops among subcompact crossover vehicles with a maximum volume of 1,846 litres or 65.2 cubic feet. A bunch of accessories are also available, such as a cargo divider that doubles as a serving table. The tailgate glass can be opened independently, which is a nice touch.
- Many thoughtful touches can be found in the 2021 Ford Bronco, such as a bottle opener on the right side of the liftgate opening. Zippered seatback pockets and a concealed storage bin under the rear bench seat cushion are available as well.
- A full site of advanced safety features come standard in the Bronco Sport, such as blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist are available, too.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2021 Ford Bronco Sport
- The 1.5L engine is underwhelming. It’s powerful enough for the daily drive, but its noise, vibration and harshness levels are below what we should expect in a new vehicle. Unfortunately, the 2.0L engine is only offered on the top-shelf Badlands.
- Interior fit and finish won’t dazzle anybody, although the overall execution skews more towards durability than luxury, as the vehicle’s mission is to head off road and get dirty.
- The rear seatbacks don’t recline. It’s a minor issue for sure, but something that other crossovers in the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport’s price range offer.
- The Bronco Sport’s starting price is above average for the subcompact category, which is why Ford expects shoppers to consider it over compact-sized models. It’s worth noting that the Renegade Trailhawk and Compass Trailhawk don’t come cheap, either.
- Fuel economy is good, but not great. There’s no hybrid powertrain available, unlike the Escape and the new Ford Maverick, which would honestly be a better solution than the 1.5L engine.
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is already attracting a fair share of customers, and for good reason. The active lifestyle crowd will find a lot to like in this little off-road-ready trucklet, including its versatility and its rugged good looks. Too bad many interesting features are exclusive to the pricey Badlands variant, though, but if we can put up with the 1.5L engine’s lack of refinement, the Big Bends and Outer Banks variants will do the trick nicely.
The Bronco Sport could even be considered a better Escape. But Jeep should especially be concerned about this new off-roader.