Smaller, more affordable, but still a Bronco.
The 2021 Ford Bronco is taking aim straight at the Jeep Wrangler, but the Blue Oval isn’t satisfied targeting its rival’s most popular product. With the 2021 Bronco Sport, Ford is going after Jeep’s mainstream models too, offering customers a smaller, more affordable Bronco experience while retaining the look and style of the full-size model.
Designed to battle the Jeep Compass and Cherokee, two vehicles that accounted for over a third of the 925,000 Jeeps sold in 2019, the new Ford Bronco Sport scales down the Bronco character, attaching it to a heavily modified version of the modular front-drive architecture found in the Escape and the Europe-only Focus hatchback. But don’t deride the Bronco Sport as a butched-up CUV that’s all shirt and no trousers – Ford has gone to great lengths to distinguish the smallest Bronco from its line of soft-roaders.
The All-New Ford Bronco Sport
Figuring out how the Bronco Sport fits into Ford’s lineup is as easy as breaking out the tape measure. At 172.7 inches long and riding on a 105.1-inch wheelbase, this compact crossover fits neatly between the new 181.3-inch Escape and the aged 161.3-inch EcoSport. It covers a white space in the company’s lineup while giving Ford customers a versatile option with an attractive footprint.
The Bronco Sport covers a white space in the company’s lineup while giving Ford customers a versatile option with an attractive footprint.
But while the Bronco Sport is smaller than the Escape, the two crossovers share their two gas engines as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission. The base turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder packs 181 horsepower (135 kilowatts) and 190 pound-feet of torque (259 Newton-meters), while the upmarket turbocharged 2.0-liter nets 245 hp (183 kW) and 275 lb-ft (259 Nm).
The Bronco Sport, though, distances itself from its larger sibling with a standard all-wheel-drive system, a range of off-road drive modes, and on range-topping trims, a trick rear drive unit with a differential lock function. It’s not a proper locker, sure, but it’s better than nothing out on the trail. Like the full-size Bronco, the Sport calls its drive modes GOAT (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) Modes. Controlled via a knob on the center console, drivers can select from Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand on every Bronco Sport. The range-topping Badlands and First Edition add Mud/Ruts and Rocks to that roster.
Speaking of trims, Bronco Sport hews pretty closely to the full-size Bronco in its trim walk. The base is simply called Base. Next up, there’s the likely volume trims, the Big Bend and Outer Banks, then we move on to the aforementioned Badlands and the limited-run First Edition. Ford is pricing the Bronco Sport at a hefty $28,155, although it hasn't released additional pricing info. As of right now, customers can reserve their Bronco Sport with a refundable $100 deposit on Ford's consumer website.
Click here to rewatch the Bronco Sport's grand debut, or scroll down for more on the new model's cabin, exterior, powertrains, and other details.
Ford Bronco Sport Interior
Look closely at the Bronco Sport’s cabin and you’ll see elements of the Escape, but they’re mostly few and far between. The commonality of switchgear, like the physical controls for the touchscreen, climate controls, and steering wheel are forgivable, especially considering the small changes Ford made. All the knobs now have a rubberized outer section, the steering wheel is resplendent with a bucking Bronco in place of Ford’s famed blue oval, and the 8.0-inch infotainment display enjoys smaller bezels (although annoyingly, it still looks tacked on).
Beyond those shared bits, though, it’s hard to argue that the Bronco Sport’s interior isn’t a significant improvement over the Escape. At least on the interior of the Badlands featured in our video, there are pleasant splashes of color, especially around the cubby that sits below the infotainment controls. The leather seats feature Bronco logos on the seatbacks, too, just in case you needed another reminder of what crossover you’re driving.
The Bronco Sport separates itself with its functionality more than the design, of course. On all but the base trim, there’s MOLLE webbing on the back of the front seats that owners can use to attach bits and bobs. A zip-up pocket in the seatback can accommodate a tablet or a notebook, feeling more useful and secure than a traditional pocket. The Badlands trim also features under-seat storage cubbies, in case you need more space.
Look closely at the Bronco Sport’s cabin and you’ll see elements of the Escape, but they’re mostly few and far between.
The cargo area is pretty darn smart, too. There’s a standard rubberized cargo cover on all but the Base, and thanks to it and the safari-style roof bump, owners can fold the rear seats down and accommodate a pair of mountain bikes with the wheels still attached. An optional cargo management system – available on the Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition – ups the versatility even further.
The five-way organizer can partition bits of the trunk off or fold out into a useful table. Beyond that, ticking this box adds a 400-watt inverter and powerful floodlights to the inside of the rear hatch. According to Ford, these lamps can illuminate up to 129 square feet of ground, giving owners much-needed light when accessing the trunk at night. There’s even a neat bottle opener, so once you’re back from a day of outdoorsiness, you can enjoy some (non-alcoholic) beverages.
See our article for full details on the new 2021 Ford Bronco interior.
Ford Bronco Sport Exterior
The Bronco Sport goes out of its way to show it’s a member of the Bronco family, adopting the full-size models’ square grille, complete with prominent BRONCO script and round headlights with a horizontal LED strake pointing toward the crossover’s midline. In back, BRONCO SPORT script draws attention to the tailgate, while LED taillights, again inspired by the full-size Bronco, are big and prominent.
The Bronco Sport’s profile is busier, though. There’s a strange, aggressively raked C-pillar and a strong lower line in the doors that clashes a bit with the rounded wheel arches (another Bronco touch). Slim, vertical side grilles are also a bit fussy, relative to the cleanly styled full-size model. Overall, though, we dig the general rugged look of the Bronco Sport – it’s a pleasant contrast to the far smoother, refined style of Jeep’s competitor, the Compass.
The Bronco Sport shares more than a few colors with the full-size model, while certain trims are also available with a black contrasting roof. Here's a full look at the color palette.
But like the cabin, it’s the functionality that distinguishes the Sport more than the design. The most obvious touch is the safari roof – that bump near the vehicle’s center that improves rear headroom and cargo space. According to Ford, the roofline is key to allowing the Bronco Sport to swallow two mountain bikes with their wheels still attached. Accessing the cargo area is easier, too, especially when crammed with gear, thanks to the standard lift-up rear window.
And finally, there’s the sheer range of tire sizes. The Bronco Sport is available with up to 29-inch off-road tires on the First Edition, although the Badlands packs 28.5s. Wheels sized at either 17 or 18 inches should help with ride comfort.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Prices & Release Date
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport will be available in five trims. It’s expected that each will be available with a variety of packages, although Ford hasn’t offered many details. We know there will be an optional Cargo Management System on all but the base trim offering a 400-watt inverter, flood lights in the liftgate, and even a work table that slides out from the rear cargo area.
Customers can also upgrade their Bronco Sport’s active safety suite, optioning up from the standard Co-Pilot360 to Co-Pilot360 Assist+ (full-speed adaptive cruise, lane-centering, and evasive steering assist) or Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0 (“Intelligent” full-speed adaptive cruise, lane-centering, and traffic sign recognition). Beyond those packages, Ford will also offer a wide array of accessories, announcing over 100 factory-backed items by the time Bronco Sports arrive in dealers.
We expect the Bronco Sport Big Bend to be the most popular of the five trims.
The Bronco Sport Base, despite its name, comes quite well equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen running Ford’s Sync 3 that can manage both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as 17-inch wheels, LED running lights, roof rails with a 150-pound limit, and a lift-up rear window.
We expect the Bronco Sport Big Bend to be the most popular of the five trims. It takes all the gear from the Base and adds upholstery that’s easier to clean, along with rubberized cargo mats, MOLLE webbing in the seatbacks, and zippable seat-back pockets. Ford’s pillar-mounted keypad and a set of foglights join the mix, too. This is also the most affordable trim to offer the cargo management system as an option. The exterior features a Carbonized Gray grille and 17-inch wheels in the same shade, as well as privacy glass for the second row, and heated side-view mirrors.
The Bronco Sport Outer Banks is the plushest member of the herd and the first trim you’ll find a contrasting roof on. The grille adds white lettering to the “BRONCO” designation while the wheels grow to 18 inches and wear an Ebony Black finish. The cabin gains leather upholstery, a 6.5-inch display in the instrument cluster, heated and powered front seats, a heated steering wheel, a B&O audio system, and both USB-A and USB-C ports. You’ll also find 18-inch black wheels.
The Bronco Sport Badlands is, like the full-size Bronco, the most serious. It comes standard with the turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and the not-a-rear-locker differential lock function. The suspension receives a one-inch lift for added ground clearance, while the retuned suspension with larger rear shocks grants greater scrambling ability. Large 28.5-inch off-road tires on steel wheels look the business. There are two new drive modes – Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl – and Ford’s nifty Trail Control system, which is like off-road cruise control. To round out the enhancements, there’s a 180-degree front camera and additional underbody protection.
Finally, the First Edition, limited to just 2,000 units, mixes the Badlands’ capability with the Outer Banks’ cabin, while adding unique badging, along with black accents and graphics.
The Bronco Sport Badlands is, like the full-size Bronco, the most serious.
What will each of these trims cost? Well, the Sport isn't cheap. The Base trim starts at $28,155 (including a $1,495 destination charge), significantly more than an all-wheel-drive-equipped Compass Sport ($23,780), although it seems better equipped. Here are the starting prices for the new Bronco Sport.
- Ford Bronco Sport Base: $28,155
- Ford Bronco Sport Big Bend: $29,655
- Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks: $33,655
- Ford Bronco Sport Badlands: $34,155
- Ford Bronco Sport First Edition: $39,995
As with the Bronco two- and four-door, Ford is currently accepting reservations with a $100 refundable deposit. Deliveries should start in the fall of 2020.
Ford Bronco Sport Specs & Features
The Bronco Sport Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks will all feature a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine with 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. The Badlands and First Edition are only available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder packing 245 hp and 275 lb-ft. Both engines work alongside an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to a standard all-wheel drive system.
But the Badlands and First Edition get a few additional powertrain goodies. Their eight-speed auto will feature a manual mode with wheel-mounted paddle shifters, along with an oil cooler for the gearbox itself. Bronco Sports with the larger engine boast a tow rating of 2,200 pounds, while the Big Bend and Outer Banks, with their turbocharged triple, can manage 2,000 pounds. Every trim can accommodate up to 150 pounds on their standard roof rails, although Bronco Sports with a sunroof will sacrifice a third of that capacity.
The standard suspension is familiar from the Escape – up front there are independent McPherson struts with twin-tube shocks, while the rear suspension uses independent double lateral link semi-trailing arms – but Ford tuned it for more off-road capability across the board. The most capable Bronco Sport trims, though, are the Badlands and First Edition, which benefit from retuned front struts and a rear suspension with larger shocks, but softer springs and a smaller sway bar, for improved articulation on the trail. These models also boast larger, more rugged tires, up to 29 inches in diameter.
This table illustrates the difference in capability from the Base/Big Bend/Outer Banks to the Badlands/First Edition.
|Base/Big Bend/Outer Banks||Badlands/First Edition|
|Ground Clearance:||7.8 Inches (Base/Big Bend) / 7.9 Inches (Outer Banks)||8.8 Inches|
|Approach Angle:||21.7 Degrees||30.4 Degrees|
|Departure Angle:||30.4 Degrees||33.1 Degrees|
|Breakover Angle:||18.2 Degrees||20.4 Degrees|
|17.7 Inches||23.6 Inches|
|Suspension Travel (front/rear):||7.4 / 8.1 Inches||7.4 / 8.1 Inches|
On the tech front, every Bronco Sport will feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen running Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The Bronco Sport boasts a comprehensive active safety suite, too, via Ford Co-Pilot 360. Every trim comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high beams. An option pack adds full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane centering assist, and traffic sign recognition.
Ford hasn’t released fuel economy for the 2021 Bronco Sport yet, and while the powertrains are similar to the Escape, estimating how efficient this new crossover is without knowing its weight is tricky. That said, an all-wheel-drive, three-cylinder Escape returns an EPA-estimated 26 city, 31 highway, and 28 combined. The 2.0-liter model nets 23 city, 31 highway, and 26 combined. Unless the Bronco Sport is considerably lighter, and with its brick-like aerodynamics in mind, we expect it to lose a few points on the Escape.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Pictures
Gallery: 2021 Ford Bronco Sport
Frequently Asked Questions
How much will the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport cost?
We’re expecting the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport to start at around $22,000. The company hasn’t announced pricing yet, but considering the vehicles the Bronco Sport is targeting – the $22,095 Jeep Compass, specifically – and the Escape’s $24,885 starting price, we expect Ford to price its newest crossover very competitively.
When can I order a 2021 Ford Bronco Sport?
As with the Bronco two- and four-door, order books are open for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Interested customers need to put down a refundable $100 deposit via Ford’s website to hold their spot in line.
What is the release date for new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport?
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport will arrive in dealers in the fall of 2020.
What colors will the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport be available in?
Ford hasn’t released the 2021 Bronco Sport’s full color palette, although we do know it will share several shades with the full-size Bronco, including Cyber Orange. A black contrasting roof will be available on certain trims.
Will the new Bronco Sport have a removable top?
No. The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is only available as a fixed-roof, four-door crossover.