Ford has been on a roll in the past year with the introduction of the Mustang Mach-E, the re-introduction of the Ranger, and now the iconic return of the Bronco. Those waiting for the highly anticipated Bronco will have to wait slightly longer as Covid-19-related problems have caused a delay in the launch of the 2-door and 4-door Bronco models until the Summer of next year.
However, the all-new smaller SUV, Bronco Sport will be available this month and is worth consideration for those looking for comfort and capability in a compact package. We spent some time behind the wheel and on the trails with the new Bronco Sport with the First Edition trim package.
At first glance the Bronco Sport is small and finds itself in the largest and fastest-growing compact SUV segment. It’s noticeably shorter in length when compared to other vehicles within its class such as the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, and even the Ford Escape. Yet, as the saying goes “good things come in small packages,” and what the Bronco Sport lacks in physical stature it makes up for in 4x4 performance and capability.
The design infuses the qualities and DNA of Bronco with its boxy shape and bold features. The First Edition trim combines the styling of the Outer Banks and fuses it with the capability of the Badlands series adding in unique black graphics and a carbonized charcoal gray grille with black BRONCO lettering. We appreciate the modern style coupled with the round headlamps and flat body that pays homage to the original Bronco.
The First Edition’s interior consists of leather trimmed seats, wipe-out rubber flooring throughout the cabin and cargo area, and features a SYNC 3 system with an 8-inch touch screen that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An embroidered Bronco icon is stitched into the seats as an extra branding element inside the cabin.
Storage and cargo space is key for those that enjoy outdoor activities and despite its size, the Bronco Sport offers ample solutions. First is the in-vehicle cargo area and rear folding seats with enough headroom to fit two standing 27.5-inch-wheel mountain bikes. This easily can fit a couple of storage cases and a smaller fridge/cooler. The vehicle comes equipped with a roof rack that can hold everything from surfboards, cargo boxes, to a rooftop tent. As another touch of detail, the backseats of the Bronco Sport includes zippered seatback pockets for more stowage.
What separates the Bronco Sport from other SUVs within the segment is its off-road performance. The First Edition is well equipped with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that produces 250 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft of torque paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Our vehicle was outfitted with 29-inch all-terrain tires for improved off-road traction.
The Bronco would be put through the paces in the Hungry Valley vehicular recreation area on a few moderate to challenging trails. On the road, the Bronco Sport offers a pleasing ride with quick acceleration, solid braking, and purposeful cornering. On the trails, the vehicle was incredibly agile with responsive and smooth steering through the various terrain encountered.
What may have stood out the most was the overall ride quality through the dirt, ruts, and even sand. The cabin was quiet and the seats comfortable during the 2 hour excursion. The small SUV is equipped with Ford’s Terrain Management System with the First Edition loaded with seven “G.O.A.T” modes (goes over any type of terrain). This includes Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl. Activating the G.O.A.T modes is as simple as a turn of a dial.
We spent a majority of time in the Mud/Ruts mode as we traversed through the dirt paths, up embankments and berms, and down an extremely steep hillside. The First Edition is also capable of wading in up to 23.6 inches of water, although we didn’t have the opportunity to test this out.
For those looking for more adventurous capability, the Bronco Sport First Edition is equipped with an advanced 4x4 system with a class-exclusive twin-clutch rear-drive unit with differential lock feature that can divert virtually all rear axle torque to either wheel. The overall smooth ride is provided by an advanced suspension system that offers greater articulation over obstacles.
This is paired with a vehicle design made-for-the-trails departure approach and breakover angles that ensures there is ample clearance when driving through rocky, steep, and overall tricky terrain. Helping to add a bit of visibility and confidence is a front off-road camera with lens washer that serves as a spotter on the center stack-mounted touch screen, which definitely came in handy during our drive.
Overall, the Bronco Sport is a solid option for those looking for a good balance during their weekday commutes and weekend adventures. With over 100 factory accessories and even more outdoor and automotive gear available this is definitely worth considering to be able to explore and go just about anywhere.
From $26,660, ford.com