Though the bulk of the Bronco hype has thus far gone to the return of The Blue Oval’s iconic off-roader, the automaker is quick to point out that it’s new baby brother, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, is no slouch. Like the regular Ford Bronco, the Bronco Sport is designed to offer excellent off-road capability, durability, and the latest technology features, and it does all that in a small, easy-to-live-with package.
As with all Bronco models, the Bronco Sport comes equipped with standard four-wheel-drive, but with an independent front and rear suspension in place of the larger Bronco’s independent front and solid rear axle setup. The small SUV’s Terrain Management System comes equipped with up to seven available G.O.A.T. Modes. Standard modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand, while Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes are available on Badlands and First Edition models.
Badlands and First Edition models pack an advanced 4×4 system with a class-exclusive twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock that’s similar in design to a traditional mechanical locking differential, and the system can divert virtually all rear axle torque to either wheel. The suspension on these two models comes equipped with uniquely tuned front struts with hydraulic rebound stops, along with 46 millimeter diameter monotube rear shocks. Softer springs and antiroll bars offer greater articulation over obstacles.
The Bronco Sport is also available with Trail Control, which enables a cruise control-like setting up to 20 mph forward and 6 mph in reverse for vehicle-controlled throttle and braking. An available front off-road camera with a lens washer displays footage on the center stack-mounted touch screen. In Rock Crawl mode, the electronic power steering assist system is uniquely calibrated to provide more precise control and help reduce steering wheel disturbance during low-speed maneuvers over rocky terrain.
Off-road capability is further reinforced by four steel bash plates, plus available frame-mounted front tow hooks, which Ford says can individually withstand static loads up to 100 percent of the gross vehicle weight. Badlands and First Edition can wade through up to 23.6 inches of water.
Two engine options are offered with the new Bronco Sport, depending on which model buyers choose. Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks models come equipped with Ford’s 1.5L EcoBoost engine that’s targeted to produce 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. Badlands and First Edition models are powered by the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that produces a targeted best-in-class 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque.
Both engines are backed up by an 8-speed automatic transmission. On Badlands and First Edition models, the transmission also comes with SelectShift technology and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. In addition, 2.0L models come equipped with additional transmission and reardrive coolers.
On the design side of things, the Bronco Sport was directly inspired by the regular Bronco. That’s evident from its signature encapsulated cartridge grille, round headlamps, flat body sides, and short front and rear overhangs. The Badlands series comes standard with 28.5 inch all-terrain tires, while the First Edition comes standard with 29 inch all-terrain off-road tires with more aggressive, deeper treads that stretch on to the sidewalls for improved off-road traction.
The long, flat roof rail was designed to carry large outdoor gear, while the cargo area can accommodate two standing 27.5 inch wheel mountain bikes with and available Yakima dealer-installed interior bike rack accessory. There’s even a built-in bottle opener in the cargo area.
For those that enjoy the great outdoors and overlanding, the Bronco Sport comes with an innovative slide-out working table, which is part of the available five-way configurable Cargo Management System. Other accessories include a 400-watt inverter and liftgate floodlamps that illuminate up to 129 square feet of space.
The second row of the Bronco Sport holds has some innovative features, including MOLLE straps on the first-row seatbacks to carry extra gear, zippered seatback pockets for additional stowage.
Badlands and First Edition models come with washable rubber flooring throughout the cabin and cargo area, easy-to-clean cloth seating surfaces, and silicone-sealed control switches. For stowage of wet, icy or muddy gear, an available storage bin is located below the second-row passenger-side seat.
In terms of technology, the Bronco Sport comes with Ford’s SYNC 3 system with an 8 inch touch screen and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other available technology features include Ford+Alexa and SiriusXM satellite radio.
The Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced driver-assist technologies is standard across the lineup, including Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking featuring Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, Auto High Beam Headlamps, and a rearview camera.
Available Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ technology includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering, Evasive Steering Assist, and voice-activated touch screen navigation. Available Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0 technology adds Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane-Centering, and Speed Sign Recognition.
Bronco Sport buyers will be able to choose from four different lifestyle accessory packages to suit their own individual taste, including Bike, Snow, Water, and Camping. Altogether, over 100 factory-backed and aftermarket accessories will be available at launch.
Interested customers can reserve their 2021 Ford Bronco Sport now at Ford.com for a refundable cost of $100. Ford has not confirmed order or delivery dates for the subcompact SUV, but order books should open up soon, and deliveries are expected to begin sometime this coming fall. The Bronco Sport will be produced at the Ford Hermosillo Plant in Mexico.