Ford is taking aim at the Jeep Wrangler with its new full-size Bronco, but it didn’t stop with just one segment, also introducing the 2021 Bronco Sport at the same time to take the fight to the Jeep Cherokee.
Every Bronco Sport will come with standard four-wheel drive capability, whether you get the base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, or Badlands trim level. Two different engines will be on tap, with Badlands models coming standard with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder EcoBoost engine making 245 horsepower and 275 pound-foot of torque. A smaller 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder is the base engine, providing 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque.
An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission available, though off-road-focused models can get an additional oil cooler on the transmission along with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Off-road ability is baked into every Bronco Sport, though the Badlands model is the one you want if you plan to hit the trails, arriving with a set of 28.5-inch tires as standard and an optional larger 29-inch tire. Ground clearance equals 8.8 inches with the bigger tires, while the approach angle of the Badlands model registers at 30.4 degrees, the breakover is 20.4 degrees, and the departure angle measures at 33.1 degrees.
There is no locking differential in the Badlands model, though it can simulate one with its twin-clutch rear-drive unit that also allows the Bronco Sport to split the amount of power it sends to each rear wheel. This is a front-wheel-drive-biased system, and it can also run fully in front-wheel-drive mode when on the highway to maximize efficiency.
Seven different drive modes, called G.O.A.T. (“go over any type of terrain”) modes are built into the Bronco Sport, prepping it for situations like mud/ruts, rock crawl, and more. Independent suspension is found in the front and rear of the Bronco Sport, with Badlands models getting uniquely tuned front struts and hydraulic rebound stops to keep things smoother off-road.
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Ford’s stated mission with the interior of the Bronco Sport is to enable your adventures, illustrating the point by standing two 27.5-inch-wheel mountain bikes in the back with the dealer-installed Yakima bike rack. Over 100 different factory-backed accessories will be available with Bronco Sport right out of the gate, including tents, lights, and other outdoor gear.
At the rear end of the Bronco Sport, a slide-out table makes for a great spot to hang out, while the glass in the rear flips down to allow quick access to the interior.
The Bronco Sport arrives with the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist technologies as standard equipment, bringing along automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, auto-high-beams and a rear-view camera. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane-centering, evasive steering assist, and speed sign recognition are all available as options.
Ford will launch the Bronco Sport late 2020, with the base model starting at $32,199. Opt for the hardcore Badlands model and pricing jumps up to $40,199.