The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is the baby brother of the all-new, off-road-ready Bronco SUV, and a viable alternative to Jeep’s smaller models. With a boxy design that’s both cool and cute plus numerous innovative features, the Ford ute is poised to be popular. Every model comes with all-wheel drive, a host of driver assists, and a spacious cabin. For once, the Sport moniker is put to good use, because the little Bronco has enough interior space to carry two mountain bikes, as well as a configurable cargo area that transforms into a mobile basecamp. Most models will be a perfect companion for those buyers with “active lifestyles.” But the Bronco Sport also has capabilities that make it worthy of sharing one of the Blue Oval’s most storied SUV nameplates.
What’s New for 2021?
The Bronco Sport is an all-new model that’s intended to serve as a smaller alternative to the larger Bronco. Ford says the Bronco Sport will hit dealerships late this year.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Although the Badlands is one of the most expensive models, it’ll also be the most capable off-road. Along with a 245-hp turbo-four engine—the more potent of the two available powerplants— and an enhanced all-wheel-drive system, the Badlands has a lifted suspension and upgraded dampers for tackling rugged terrain. Ford says it’s only going to build 2000 copies of the First Edition, which will be the most expensive Bronco Sport, but it gets all the goodies from the Bronco Sport Badlands as well as the more luxurious interior and black exterior accents from the Outer Banks model.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Bronco Sport rides on the same platform that underpins the compact Escape crossover, and every model has all-wheel drive. A 181-hp, turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder is the base engine, but a 245-hp turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder is also available. Both pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission, but the more powerful engine brings steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and upgraded cooling components. The Bronco Sport can also tow between 2000 and 2200 pounds. The Badlands and First Edition pack an assortment of exclusive equipment, including a twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock. They also have all-terrain tires mounted on 17-inch wheels, a 1.0-inch suspension lift for added ground clearance, and stouter shock absorbers. We’ve driven a Bronco Sport Badlands and noted its hefty steering and firm ride that made it feel truck-like, but not particularly smooth and steady on the highway. Its off-road abilities also exceeded expectations, but just remember that it still has limitations before you try to tackle the Rubicon Trail.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the three-cylinder Bronco Sport will earn 25 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Stepping up to the more powerful four-cylinder version drops those figures to 21 mpg city and 26 highway. When we have the chance to run them on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, we can evaluate their real-world mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the Bronco Sport boasts an attractive design and a plethora of popular features. The little ute also has an impressive amount of space and several neat innovations. While its wheelbase is shorter than the Escape, the baby Bronco has an upright seating position and a decent amount of rear-seat legroom. Likewise, its roofline rises in the rear, providing additional headroom and enough cargo volume to fit two mountain bikes. The cargo hold can also be outfitted with a slide-out table that doubles as a workspace, a 400-watt power inverter, and LED lights built into the inside of the rear gate that provide overhead lighting. The rear gate features a glass hatch and a built-in bottle opener. The Badlands and First Edition models come with washable, rubberized flooring and upholstery that is easy to clean. Another neat trick is the storage bin that’s located under their back seats.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every Bronco Sport features an 8.0-inch touchscreen that supports Ford’s Sync 3 software. It comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it can be upgraded with SiriusXM satellite radio and a B&O audio system. In addition to touch-sensitive controls and voice commands, the infotainment interface can be operated with hard buttons as well as a volume and tuning knob.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Bronco Sport hasn’t been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Ford also comes with a host of driver-assistance technology that includes standard automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Key safety features include:
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assist
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Ford provides a competitive limited and powertrain warranty that aligns with most of its rivals. However, it lacks the complimentary maintenance that some competitors provide.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance