The first Ford Bronco appeared in 1965, and following decades of popularity, it ended production after 1996. But that wasn’t the end for the Bronco. It returned for 2021 and is joined by a smaller sibling, the Ford Bronco Sport, says MotorTrend. While not truck-sized, the Bronco Sport has a truck-like feel combined with quick performance.
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport feels like a truck
Car and Driver tested out the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport and called it “a worthy off-road sidekick to Ford’s reimagined Bronco.” But, while the Bronco Sport looks like the Bronco, they are pretty different. The full-size Bronco has a ladder-type frame and a two-speed transfer case like a truck does. It competes with the Jeep Wrangler. The Bronco Sport, though, is built on the Ford C2 front-wheel-drive platform, which is the same one used in the Ford Escape compact crossover SUV. Since it’s more car-like, the Bronco Sport is meant to compete with the Jeep Compass and Jeep Cherokee.
The Bronco Sport and Escape share a platform, but the two look quite different. The Bronco Sport has a 105.1-inch wheelbase, which is 1.6 inches shorter than the Escape’s. That change “both improves its breakover angle and gives it a stockier stance,” says Car and Driver. It has a boxier shape than the Escape, and the Bronco Sport is almost eight inches shorter in length. That makes it about the same length as the Jeep Compass, although the Bronco Sport is 6.8 inches taller.
The Bronco Sport does feel big and truck-like while driving, due to its “ample headroom, heavily weighted steering, and firm ride,” says Car and Driver. The Bronco Sport Badlands trim that Car and Driver tested felt right at home driving off-road. It did well on rocky terrain, sand, and snow too. It has lots of torque and grip and is able to climb up rocky grades at 1500 rpm, but it’s speedy too.
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport moves pretty quickly
Car and Driver likes that the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is “quick, capable both on- and off-road, [and includes] many thoughtful features.” Two engines are available. The 181-hp turbocharged three-cylinder is found in the Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks trims. The turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, producing 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, is in the Badlands trim. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. There are tradeoffs for the Bronco Sport’s performance and boxy shape, though. It doesn’t have the best fuel efficiency.
The Bronco Sport might feel like a truck, but it’s still light and fast. It has very little turbo lag, and the transmission shifts quickly. With the turbocharged engine, Car and Driver was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH in 5.9 seconds and complete a quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds. Those numbers put the Bronco Sport as one of the fastest in its class. It’s just slightly slower than the Escape that Car and Driver tested.
A wide-angle look
Car and Driver did find that the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport has a “cheaper interior and fewer standard amenities” than some of its competitors. It has a rugged design for the exterior and the interior, although it does have the rotary shift knob from the Escape. Car and Driver would have liked more standard features in the top trim, which is missing a leather-wrapped steering wheel along with “dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, a moonroof, separate front- and rear-height adjustments for the driver’s seat, front and rear park assist, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a power liftgate.” Some of those features are available in a package though.
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport has strong off-road capabilities and is good for regular street driving as well. With a truck-like feel and good speed, the Bronco Sport has a lot to offer.