Once upon a time, Ford made two Bronco models. One was a full-size off-road monster, while the other was a smaller, more refined four by four that was equally comfortable on and off the road. It offered passengers an extra measure of comfort technology such as an electronically shifted transfer case. It featured a smaller, more fuel-efficient engine while being just as capable when hitting the trail. While Ford’s original crack at this concept bit the dust in 1990, its spirit is carried on in the all-new 2021 Bronco Sport that you can find at your Ford Bronco Sport dealership.
The new incarnation uses either a 1.5-liter or 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and all trims are offered with four-wheel drive. Finally, the rabid fan base that has been waiting with bated breath for the name to make a reappearance can reserve this new model. Now let’s take a closer look at the full-size Bronco’s little brother, and see what makes it a great choice for those in the SUV market.
Bodystyle: In With the Old School
Starting up front, one can see a clear homage to the simple, boxy styling of the original Falcon-based Bronco. Two large, round-looking lamps sit on either side of a flat black grille with the name BRONCO spelled out in large, bold letters across the width of the grille. While it looks in step with the rest of Ford’s product line, the Bronco Sport retains its own unique personality and retro charm.
The sides show a boxy yet sculpted design. It retains the upright stature of a true off-roader while looking closer to that of a modern Range Rover in its execution. The latter part of the roof towards the rear of the SUV steps upward in a way not seen since the Vista Cruiser of GM fame, giving ample space for taller objects to be slid in easily. Ford claims that it’s possible to stow two bikes side by side in the back with ease.
The distinctive wrap-around side windows are sadly long gone from this smaller modern Bronco. Around the back, the simple yet elegant design is carried through from the front. Two large tail lights with integrated backup lenses sit on either side of a stylish cargo door with the name of the vehicle spelled out between them. It calls to mind the elegant simplicity of the Ford F-100 series, for example. It’s nice to see automakers calling back to their roots on SUVs by having the name of the brand spelled out so prominently on the rear.
Drivetrain: Spoiled for Choice…
All but the highest trim level of the Bronco Sport use a 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine, and all make use of an 8-speed automatic transmission. This keeps the SUV fuel-efficient enough for everyday driving and provides enough power for the outdoor type activities the SUV was built for. The highest trim of the Bronco Sport uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for those that would like a bit more power. Both engines use stop/start technology that allows these already fuel-efficient plants to become even more so, shutting off when at a complete stop and starting back up faster than it takes a driver to shift their foot from the brake to the gas. All are offered only in four-wheel drive, as these SUVs are being marketed towards the “weekend adventurer” types. They feature an electronic traction control system, much like every other off-roader in its class.
Cabin: Clean and Simple
Being a simple, rugged off-roader, one would expect that theme to carry into the cabin, and the Bronco Sport bears that out. Depending on what color one picks for the inside, you can get a lovely combination of brown leather seats and yellow metal highlights that curve around the door panels. It features two screens, one for the gauge cluster and the other for infotainment. The gauges in question are physical dials and make for a nice contrast to the all-electric setups most common in this segment of vehicle.
HVAC controls are sturdy and simple buttons. No need to faff around with finicky touch screen controls here. Featured in all but the base level trims are special elastic MOLLE straps on the rear of the front seats that can be used to hold essential off-road gear like flashlights and other tools. Available is a heated steering wheel, a boon for those cold mornings. As a part of the Cargo Management System, one can equip their Bronco Sport with a camping table, inbuilt spotlights in the cargo door, and a house-style power converter. There’s even a standard bottle opener built into the cargo area!
Outdoor Accessories: Always Ready for Adventure
Ford offers Bronco Sport buyers a bevy of optional equipment to prepare both you and your SUV for any adventure you can throw at it. Here are some examples:
A Yakima roof cage and bike holders are available right from your local Ford dealer to hold your bikes and all the gear you could hope to carry.
Available for purchase is a kayak mount for the roof and (optional for each model past base) is a class two towing package with anti-sway control.
Ford offers a Yakima ski holder for the rear cargo door and crossbars for the roof rails.
Offered are not one, but two tents to choose from! One is a High Rise tent mounted to the roof, and the other is one that connects to the cargo area. Also on offer is an awning, so shade is never far away.
Riding Off Into the Sunset
While the Bronco II was seen as a flop in the mainstream, it has found a cult following in recent years. The new Bronco Sport is everything that little SUV tried to be and so much more! It offers better power options and more efficient transmission. It gives buyers the option of kitting out their SUV in a variety of ways, for many different scenarios, and uses an electronic traction management system to ensure you’re never far from home when the going gets tough. Its small size makes it ideal for urban environments, too, making it an ideal weekday workhorse as well as a weekend warrior. The styling is simple and rugged and exactly what Bronco fans had been hoping for since the nameplate disappeared in the late 90s.
The cabin is a great place to spend one’s time, with thoughtful features such as a small parcel shelf below the infotainment screen and a wireless charging pad with two USB ports built into the center console. Overall, the Bronco Sport is a proud addition to the legendary Ford lineup. Too many times, we’ve seen automakers default on their promises to bring back popular nameplates for the modern age. I hope the Bronco Sport remains in Ford’s lineup. It may have taken them years to make good on a modern Bronco, but they seemed to have used that time wisely to give their buyers the SUV they wanted. So, armed with this knowledge, it may be time to see if a 2021 Bronco Sport fits your lifestyle.