Consumer Reports Can’t Recommend the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport and regular Ford Bronco will likely be remembered as the cars that represented the COVID-19 times the best. The Ford Bronco Sport was highly anticipated due to its killer looks and affordable price for an off-roader. However, the line has been met with delay after delay, and now that the Bronco Sport is out and about, it’s letting some people down. In fact, Consumer Reports finished its review and is not able to recommend the baby Bronco. 

2021 Bronco Sport hauling some dirt bikes. Due to reliability concerns, Consumer reports can't recommend it
2021 Ford Bronco Sport hauling dirt bikes | Ford

Is the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport a good car? 

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport landed 13th out of 23 on Consumer Reports 2021 Compact SUV list. The highly anticipated little Bronco only scored a 60/100 on the overall rating, making it fall just short of the recommended list. This is a dagger to the new SUV based on the Ford Escape

The Bronco Sport is the compact, cheaper version of the regular Ford Bronco. This came with the understanding that it would not be as strong as the big Bronco, but customers will still be excited to have an entry-level option. However, the Bronco Sport has seen three recalls in the short time it’s been on the market. These recalls, along with the reliability history of the Ford Escape, have really hurt the Ford Bronco Sport’s review from Consumer Reports. 

What is powering the Ford Bronco Sport?

2021 Ford Bronco Sport in different configurations parked in a field
2021 Ford Bronco Sports | Ford

Ford set the base model up with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder making 181 hp and paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission for the baby Bronco. While Consumer Reports liked the punchy midrange power of the three-cylinder, there is a bit of a low-end rumble and vibrations that get annoying. 

There is also a bigger engine that has caught CR’s attention. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is not only much more powerful – 245 hp – but it’s also much smoother and easier to live with. 

Although both powertrains are pretty good, CR notes that the rear unit of the drivetrain may seize, causing a loss of drive and/or a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash. This accounts for one of the three recalls already posted for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. 

Is the Bronco Sport comfortable? 

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Grille up close
2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Ford

Even though the Bronco Sport is based on the Escape, it has a much more interesting interior and a more rugged appeal. The interior sports a few cool design elements like copper-colored trim on the doors and dash, zippered storage pockets on the backs of the front seats, and a leather steering wheel with a chrome bucking bronco emblem. 

The Ford Bronco Sport is predictably a bit stiff. This is not an uncommon ride profile for off-road SUVs. However, given the fact that this is a unibody crossover and not a full-blown body-on-frame 4×4, this stiffness may turn from charmingly rugged to just plain annoying. 

As far as noise goes, the Bronco Sport does a surprisingly good job of isolating the driver from the road noise. However, Consumer Reports says the engine has an annoying sound that the driver can hear far too much of. Lastly, the seats are confusing because the backs are comfy and wide, while the bottom is hard and stiff. 

Death by one thousand cuts

The 2021 Bronco Sport has not had an easy launch. After three recalls and plenty of little annoyances, it has failed to impress CR testers like many of us thought it might. However, the Bronco Sport is new and will hopefully get better as Ford works through the tweaks. Though the tweaks are many, I have faith that there may be a better verison in the future that will be worthy of the “Consumer Reports recommends” label.

RELATED: Bronco Sport Gets TWO Recalls In One Week: Another Bad Ford Launch