2021 Ford Bronco Sport Review
  • Car Review

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Review

By Chris Teague | April 19, 2021

Quick Facts:

Pros:

  • Big-Bronco style in a compact package.
  • Surprisingly capable off-road.
  • Utilitarian but useful interior design.

Cons:

  • The back seat is tight for both kids and adults.
  • Noisy inside on the highway.
  • Steering is too assisted and light.

Video:


Vehicle Type: The Ford Bronco Sport is a compact crossover with seating for up to five people.

Price Range: The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport ranges in price from $28,315 to $39,995, including destination, but before options or taxes.

Powertrain: The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is offered with two powertrains.

The standard mill is a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-three that makes 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque.

The upgraded unit is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque.

All Bronco Sports get an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive as standard equipment.

More Photos

See more 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Photos.


Overview:

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Ford’s announcement that it would release not one, but two new Bronco models in 2021 set the car world ablaze. The larger model is the flagship, the true off-road-ready Bronco, but the smaller Bronco Sport model was also promised with off-road cred and said to be surprisingly rugged for a crossover.

The all-new 2021 Bronco Sport features many of the boxy, tough-guy styling cues of the large Bronco, but carries them as a unibody crossover with all-wheel-drive instead of a full-blown 4WD system.

Ford offers the Bronco Sport in several unique trims for 2021: Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and a limited-run First Edition model. It’s targeted at new car buyers that want the ability to go crazy with off-road capability without ruining their vehicle’s ability to be comfortable and usable on-road.

The Bronco Sport competes with the Jeep Cherokee, Ford Escape, Honda Passport, Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Compass, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Crosstrek.

The 2021 Bronco Sport is offered with two different powertrain options. The standard mill is a turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost inline-three-cylinder that produces 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque.

The upgraded engine choice is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four rated at 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD.

Overall Score: 7.7/10


Safety Features: 8/10

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The 2021 Bronco Sport hasn’t yet been crash-tested by either major safety group. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are yet to rate the crossover.

The Bronco Sport Base gets LED headlamps, auto high beams, a rearview camera, and an advanced airbag system. Ford also gives every Bronco Sport model the Co-Pilot360 safety package, which includes a pre-collision assist system with automatic emergency braking, a blind spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, and a lane-keeping system.

Higher trim levels get additional cameras, both to aid in off-road driving and to assist in parking and maneuverability.


Value: 7/10

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The Bronco Sport’s base price starts at around $27,000 and can reach near $40,000 with options. This excludes the sold-out First Edition trim, which is far more expensive than the others. That pricing sets the Bronco Sport in competition with several crossovers, some of which are considered premium.

Ford offers several accessories and upgrades, which makes the Bronco Sport an appealing option for people who want to customize.

The Bronco Sport’s interior and build quality are both oriented to make it more durable and usable off-road, which means that it really doesn’t come into its own until the pavement ends.


Tech Features: 8/10

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It’s a disappointment that Ford opted to include the older SYNC 3 version of its infotainment system in the Bronco Sport, but it’s at least a solid platform with intuitive menu structures and an easy-to-use interface.

Standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker AM/FM stereo, and an electronic terrain management system.

Higher trim levels add USB-C inputs, a remote start system, additional terrain management modes, dual-zone climate controls, a color LCD instrument panel, intelligent access with push-button start, and a B&O Play sound system.


Practicality: 8/10

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The Bronco Sport combines a comfortable interior with usable cargo space in a go-anywhere package. The front seats are wide, deep, and well-padded, and offer great visibility in nearly all directions.

The big challenge for families with the Bronco Sport is its small back seat. With tall adults riding in the front seats, the seat backs are extremely close to the back seat, which makes installing car seats a challenge and loading kids even more difficult. In the same vein, leg room for adults is seriously lacking in the rear seat, but the Bronco Sport’s tall roof does at least keep headroom at a comfortable level.

The Bronco Sport gets many clever and useful features that make it easier and more pleasant to use. Some models get built-in rotating LED lights in the liftgate, which can be tilted to illuminate the cargo area or the ground outside the vehicle, and the ability to separately open the glass on the rear gate helps with loading small items.


Styling & Design: 8/10

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Ford absolutely nailed the big-Bronco aesthetic in the smaller Bronco Sport package. The vehicle’s lines and shape evoke the classic off-roader from all angles, and the vehicle’s size ends up being an asset, as the styling works well on the smaller crossover.

The Bronco Sport’s cabin is upright, simple, and utilitarian, but remains useful. The dash, screens, and controls are all mounted in positions to be easily visible and usable from either front seat.

Ford’s trim level structure is interesting with the Bronco Sport, because it allows the buyer to select unique graphics and appearance options along with trim-specific equipment.

Ford’s accessories catalog for the Bronco Sport is already heavy, meaning there are tons of available gear, from camping equipment to off-road items.


Driving Experience: 8/10

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The Bronco Sport’s on-road manners are just fine, and are not seriously hampered by the vehicle's off-road-ready ground clearance. The upgraded 2.0-liter engine provides more than enough power to move confidently in traffic, and helps the little crossover reach highway speeds without issue. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and finds its gears without issue, keeping the engine in the best possible position to provide optimal power.

The standard inline-three is surprisingly capable and makes more than enough power. It’s buzzy and lively, though it can feel a little rough around the edges and it’s certainly noisy under hard acceleration.

Off-road, the Bronco Sport comes alive. It’s an absolute riot to push hard in loose dirt, and is capable of getting into and out of some hairy situations. The selectable G.O.A.T. driving modes actually work at changing the vehicle’s dynamics, and help adjust the Bronco Sport to perform its best in a variety of challenging conditions. There are modes for rock crawl, slippery conditions, mud/ruts, and more. The Bronco Sport's short wheelbase and out all-wheel-drive system work wonders to get it through the rough stuff.


Fuel Efficiency: 7/10

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When equipped with the three-cylinder engine, the Bronco Sport is rated at 25/28/26 mpg city/hwy/combined.

With the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood, the Bronco Sport is EPA-rated at 21/26/23 mpg.

There is no hybrid option and all models get all-wheel-drive, so fuel economy numbers for the Bronco Sport are not the best in its class.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The base model 2021 Bronco Sport starts with an MSRP of $28,315, including a $1,495 destination charge, and comes standard with a 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission, a Safari-style roof, five selectable terrain management driving modes, adjustable liftgate-mounted flood lights, flip-up rear glass, LED running lights, active grille shutters, manual climate controls, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster, a pre-collision system with automatic emergency braking, a lane-keeping system, a blind spot monitoring system, an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, four USB ports, cloth upholstery, and 17-inch wheels.

The $29,815 Bronco Sport Big Bend gets easy-clean cloth upholstery, a rubberized cargo floor, a keyless entry keypad, LED fog lights, automatic climate controls with rear air vents, and SiriusXM radio.

The Bronco Sport Outer Banks starts at $33,815 and comes standard with leather-trimmed seats, 18-inch wheels, a remote start system, a shadow black roof, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, USB-C inputs, intelligent access with push-button start, heated front seats, and power-adjustable front seats.

The Ford Bronco Sport Badlands starts at $34,315 and gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, an advanced 4x4 system with twin-clutch rear drive unit, seven selectable terrain management modes, metal underbody bash plates, off-road suspension, a front 180-degree camera system with split-view and washer, 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, front tow hooks, and trail control.

The Bronco Sport First Edition starts at $39,995 and comes with a carbonized gray grille, special badging, leather-trimmed seats with First Edition upgrades, a class II trailer tow package with sway control, a B&O Sound System, a power moonroof, and 17-inch wheels with all-terrain off-road tires.

If we were shopping for a Bronco Sport, our pick would be the Badlands model, which took over as the range-topping trim after the First Edition sold out. It features many off-road-ready elements and offers the best feature availability for buyers wanting to take their Bronco Sports off the beaten path where it belongs.


More Photos

See more 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Photos.