Crossover & Midsize

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Comes Up Short On Paper, But That Doesn’t Matter

Gearheads are obsessed with spec sheets and statistics. It comes with the hobby. However, numbers don’t tell the entire story of a vehicle. And the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport proves you shouldn’t judge a model until you get behind the wheel.

You shouldn’t overlook the Bronco Sport just because it’s not as powerful as the regular Bronco or its rivals. However, industry experts didn’t put too much emphasis on what it doesn’t have. Instead, they appreciated the Bronco Sport for its best characteristics.

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is more capable than it seems

The Bronco has a storied off-roading history. However, critics speculated whether the ‘Baby Bronco’ could actually live up to its nameplate’s heritage.

Thankfully, industry experts found that off-road capable compact SUV punches above its weight class.

CNET’s Andrew Krok gave the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport a glowing review, handing it an 8.4/10 rating.

However, his assessment might not apply to every ‘Baby Bronco.’ Notably, Ford gave CNET the Bronco Sport’s most off-road capable trim level for testing purposes. And this edition set a high bar that lesser versions may have difficulty matching.

The Badlands trim is the ultimate Bronco Sport model

A red 2021 Ford Bronco Sport towing a pair of dirt bikes
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport with dirt bikes in tow | Ford

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Not all Bronco Sport models can handle the most extreme conditions. However, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands comes with everything you’ll want in your next off-roader.

You might balk at the idea that Ford only gave this off-road trim a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine instead of a V6. And you may be skeptical that the Bronco Sport shares some underpinnings with the Ford Escape.

However, these concerns won’t even cross your mind once you put the pedal to the metal. This powerplant delivers 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, making it much more potent than the Bronco Sport’s standard 181-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine.

Additionally, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands features some serious off-road equipment. Its standard skid plates, tow hooks, rubberized flooring, and all-terrain tires hint at its capability. However, its locking rear differential, shock absorbers, and advanced 4×4 system validates its rugged persona.

You shouldn’t expect this compact SUV to keep up with its larger Bronco sibling or a Jeep Wrangler. However, it still makes a great weekend adventure partner.

CNET’s Krok backed up this assessment in his review. He stated, “You’re not going to traverse the whole of Moab in this thing, but for folks who appreciate a weekend trip into the rough stuff, the Bronco Sport Badlands provides more than enough capability for it.”

How much will an off-road-capable 2021 Ford Bronco cost?

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Don’t expect this model to be as affordable as typical compact SUVs. Ford gave the 2021 Bronco Sport’s base model a starting MSRP of $26,820.

Comparatively, the 2021 Subaru Forester starts at $24,795, and like the Bronco Sport, it also comes standard with all-wheel drive.

Meanwhile, most off-road enthusiasts will likely want a model that comes with performance enhancements and adventure equipment. 

The Bronco Sport Outer Banks ($32,160 MSRP) satisfies some needs, as it features rubberized floor mats, 18-inch wheels, and a 120-volt power outlet. However, this model will still leave you wanting more.

Ultimately, you’ll have to pay up for the Badlands trim if you want to roam free. Its MSRP begins at $32,820, and we recommend opting for the Class II Trailer Tow package for added capability. 

Plus, you can add the Badlands Package ($2,595) and Ford Co-Pilot Assist + ($795) for more amenities and safety features.