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The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport may look like the automaker is copying the bigger Bronco’s styling onto a smaller, cheaper footprint that lacks any off-road prowess, but that’s not the case. While it does ride on a version of Ford’s C2 platform that also underpins the new Escape, Ford went to great lengths to improve the crossover’s off-road prowess and capability. According to Ford, consumers are noticing.

Jovina Young, the Sport’s marketing manager, said in a new Ford Authority interview that the automaker is “happy with the feedback” it has been receding from dealers as people enquire about the new offering. Young also revealed that the automaker had received both reservations and orders for the model, though no official number was provided. Back in August, the Dearborn-based automaker reported that it’d received over 165,000 reservations for the bigger Bronco alone.

Gallery: 2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Ford isn’t letting the Escape’s underpinnings sour the crossover’s off-road prowess. Unlike its mainstream sibling, Ford gave the Bronco Sport all-wheel drive across its lineup. However, the two do share powertrains. The standard offering is a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder making 171 horsepower (135 kilowatts) and 190 pound-feet (259 Newton-meters) of torque. The upmarket mill is a turbocharged 2.0-liter making 245 hp (183 kW) and 275 lb-ft (259 Nm). The Bronco Sport further differentiates itself from the Escape with its selection of off-road drive modes and the available trick rear locking differential.

Another difference between the Escape and Bronco Sport is their price. The Bronco Sport starts at $28,155 (including the $1,495 destination charge), about $3,200 more than the Escape, though it can quickly climb to $39,995 for the First Edition model. The Badlands trim, which slots below it, starts at $34,155. Ford is positioning the Bronco Sport to take on the Jeep Cherokee and Compass, and it appears Ford has the product to do just that.

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