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While the debate among Bronco purists rages about whether or not the newest Ford wearing the nameplate is worthy, it is a capable off-road SUV by modern standards. However, like other off-road-oriented SUVs with recognizable names, the 2023 Ford Bronco demands a hefty price and offers little comfort. Fortunately, three cheaper Ford Bronco alternatives provide a fun ride and potentially more value, depending on what you value the most.

The 2023 Ford Bronco

U.S. News says, “the 2023 Ford Bronco provides exceptional off-road capability.” Unfortunately, while it possesses acceptable on-road manners, its noisy cabin and poor fuel economy make getting to the end of the pavement a chore.

Then there’s the price with the base model Bronco starting at $32,295 and climbing to Bronco Raptor’s $73,780 starting MSRP. According to Kelley Blue Book, the most popular Bronco models fall in the midrange, with the Outer Banks and Badlands versions falling in the mid-$40,000 range. 

The shorter wheelbase two-door and family-friendly four-door Broncos feature a rugged interior aimed more toward shrugging off a splash of mud than surrounding its occupants with creature comforts. However, Ford’s SYNC 4 infotainment system provides access to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with a user-friendly interface. 

Driving oversized tires and crawling over off-road terrain requires substantial power. The base Bronco’s turbocharged four-cylinder mated to either the seven-speed manual or ten-speed automatic transmission provides up to 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque while getting an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. Available engine options range up to the Bronco Raptor’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 418 hp and 44 lb-ft of torque that drops fuel economy to the EPA-estimated 15 mpg in the city and 16 mpgon the highway. 

However, three Ford Bronco alternatives scored higher in the U.S. News “Best Compact SUVs for 2023” list. 

1. The 2023 Ford Bronco Sport

A blue Ford Bronco parked indoors against a blue background and white floor.
Ford Bronco | Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

The 2023 Ford Bronco Sport came in fourth on the list with an MSRP ranging from $29,215 to $44,655 and fuel economy estimates up to 25 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The Bronco Sport not only shares a name with the Ford Bronco but also has some serious off-road chops while still retaining proper handling on the road. 

2. The 2023 Mazda CX-50

A black 2023 Mazda CX-5 parked in a desert and rocky area.
2023 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda North American Operations

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 tied with the Subaru Forester for fifth place on the list, with MSRP ranging from $27,550 to $42,300 and estimated fuel economy of up to 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. While the CX-50 won’t keep up with either Bronco variant when the gravel road turns into a goat trail, its “outdoorsy persona” won’t be out of place on any decent forest service road, campsite, or hiking trailhead. 

3. The 2023 Subaru Forester

A silver 2023 Subaru Forester driving down a wooded highway.
2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru of America, Inc.

The 2023 Subaru Forester MSRP ranges from $26,395 to $36,495, making it our least expensive Ford Bronco alternative, and it gets the best fuel estimated economy with 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. In addition, the Forester represents this review’s most well-rounded compact SUV, with a spacious interior featuring quality construction, ample driver-assistance features, and Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive. Its only shortcoming is its 182-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 176 lb-ft or torque doesn’t provide adequate passing power at highway speeds, and it’s the only engine option available in the Forester. 


Ford Bronco Price Increases Are Here Again