Safety is something many drivers probably take for granted when it comes to buying a new vehicle. It’s understandable; many of us assume that the new vehicle we purchased is the safest thing on the road, even if it’s not. Keep in mind that not every new model year gets top marks from organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport is one of those vehicles that did nab top honors from both organizations, and for very good reason.
We often hear about the full-size Bronco’s off-roading capabilities and how great a rugged, open-air SUV it is, but we rarely hear about just how safe its smaller and more affordable sibling is. In fact, the economical 2022 Ford Bronco Sport is designed to accommodate a lot of different safety measures for the purpose of not just protecting the thrill-seekers and off-roading enthusiasts, but the everyday, errand-running families and commuters, too.
Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS
The compact 2022 Ford Bronco Sport managed to nab a 2022 Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS). It scored top ratings across every crash test scenario and received top marks for crash avoidance and mitigation. This covers everything from roof strength in case of rollovers to vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian mitigation systems.
The only thing that the 2022 Bronco Sport didn’t quite nab top honors for was LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) ease of use, which received an “Acceptable” rating instead of a “Good” rating. The main reason for the downgrade on the rating for the LATCH system was that it could be confused for other hardware and that it was too deep into the seat to be as easy to use as it could have been. Even still, the system is at least present, along with a number of other passive and active safety features.
Having the only downside being that the LATCH system isn’t quite as pronounced as the IIHS would have liked seems like a fairly acceptable trade-off for every other feature being top-notch––especially if you don’t have small children in car seats. Overall, the Bronco Sport is a choice selection for those who are looking for a sporty, compact, and safe family or outdoor-ready SUV.
5-Star Rating from the NHTSA
The IIHS tests are just one aspect of the safety procedures that vehicles go through before being rated. There’s also the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which rates and ranks how well vehicles perform under specific conditions. The NHTSA gave the Bronco Sport an impressive 5-star overall safety rating. Front driver and passenger-side safety collision reports, as well as the overall front safety design, all came back with highly positive ratings.
The NHTSA also commended the Bronco Sport for its collection of pre-collision and post-collision mitigation systems, including forward-collision warnings, lane departure warnings, automatic braking, and dynamic braking support. These features all come standard trim-wide across the 2022 Bronco Sport model year line-up.
Understated Safety and Stability
The fascinating thing about it is that even the full-size Bronco managed to score some impressive stats on the IIHS crash tests and did so in a much better fashion than its nearest off-road rival, the Jeep Wrangler. The comparison footage of the IIHS tests has made its way around the internet, with many potential shoppers recognizing that the Bronco offers much better protection than the Wrangler. The video comparison of the crash tests posted on YouTube shows how the Wrangler rolls over in the frontal crash test, whereas the Bronco maintains upright stability after the head-on crash.
Even though the test compares the Wrangler with the larger Bronco, the Bronco Sport still retains the same safety features, and in many ways, it’s understated just how good the Bronco Sport is in the safety department. Much of this is thanks to the Personal Safety System, which comes equipped with multiple sets of airbags for the driver and passengers. While many airbag systems only have front airbags for the driver and passenger, the Bronco Sport comes with dual-stage front row driver and passenger airbags, driver knee airbags, and a patented Safety Canopy System, which features a horizontal side-curtain airbag canopy that covers both rows.
In the video comparison with the Wrangler, you can see how the canopy makes a huge difference when it comes to preventing whiplash and impacts against the side of the vehicle for passengers in the second row. That’s a fairly significant deal, especially if you get T-boned or clipped from the rear while you have passengers in the second row. The fact that Ford took the extra time to not only stabilize the frame of the Bronco with a very impressive rigid cabin for passengers, but also have an appropriate crumple zone to absorb the impact of a crash, just makes the design that much better.
Safety Without Sacrificing Fun
One of the big takeaways from the crash comparison of the Bronco and Wrangler is that the Wrangler’s top-heavy design and narrower wheelbase results in more rollovers compared to the Bronco when faced with the exact same crash situations. Now some might argue that the test between the Bronco and Wrangler is unfair because the Bronco isn’t running on the same platform as the Bronco Sport. In some ways, it’s a relevant argument insofar as that the Bronco Sport is actually built on the Ford Escape platform as opposed to the standard Bronco, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
In comparison, it’s quite obvious that despite being based on the same platform, the Bronco Sport and Escape are actually a lot more dissimilar than people might thank. First and foremost, the Bronco Sport actually has a shorter but slightly wider and taller stance than the Edge. Given that the Bronco Sport also weighs more than the Escape, it’s essentially a very stable, very durable, slightly heavier, shorter, and wider version of the Escape. The platform may be the same as the Escape, but the design language of the Bronco Sport is still closer to the likes of the standard Bronco, and that echoes in the results of its crash-test performance.
But none of this comes at the expense of the Bronco Sport’s entry-level off-road enthusiasm. Standardized roof racks across the trims, available off-road suspension, and an advanced 4×4 system with the twin-clutch rear drive unit on the Badlands trim make the Bronco Sport more than capable and ready for various off-road adventures. Plus, with the AdvanceTrac working in conjunction with the EcoBoost powertrain and 18-inch wheels, the Bronco Sport isn’t all just safety and no fun; it’s all safety with tons of fun.
Reevaluating Off-Road Safety
Given that the Bronco and Bronco Sport have readily redefined what it means to offer off-road capabilities with undeniably high-quality safety features, one must wonder if the competition will be taking notice and upgrading their models? Ford has certainly brought the Bronco back in a big way, and not only is it more than capable of challenging the top market leaders in the open-air and family-oriented rugged SUV segments with a litany of features, but it seems to be doing so while prioritizing safety. It’s an interesting dynamic for the future of off-road vehicles if more brands follow suit.