When Ford unveiled the new Bronco series of sport utilities, a new Bronco Sport came with it. At first glance, this new Baby Bronco looked like a smaller version of the SUV. On closer inspection, it’s clear that the 2021 Bronco Sport is a completely different animal in almost every way.
Back in the heyday of the Ford Bronco’s popularity, the rig came in several model variants that included the Bronco II. Currently one of the most collectible of the Bronco series of yore, so it made sense that, if Ford was to revive the pony truck of the 1990s, it must also bring back the Baby Bronco. The Bronco Sport is that vehicle.
Differences from the larger Bronco are immediately apparent in the Bronco Sport’s side profile, which is much more compact and squared off. Lighting elements, especially at the rear, are chunkier and more dominant, and the stance makes it clear that there is no body-on-frame connection to the Ford F-Series as there is with the larger Bronco. Indeed, the Bronco Sport is based on the Ford Escape crossover, a unibody design, and (surprisingly) not the Ford Ranger or F-150.
Interior spaciousness and storage were a high point of the presentation during Ford’s unveil of the new and highly anticipated utilities, and there’s an emphasis on safety equipment and comfort-based gadgetry too. Among the long list of accessories available as one-offs or in “lifestyle bundles” – with themes like Bike, Snow, Water, and Camping – are a slide-out work table, tailgate-mounted flood lamps, roof rack options to emphasize the adventure readiness that Ford is aiming for, together with gems like the military-ish MOLLE-style straps on the back of its seats, and the bottle opener integrated into the rear hatch’s side wall.
Powering the new Bronco Sport are a couple of familiar engines from the Ford lineup of crossovers. The base engine will be a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 181 horsepower (135 kW) and 190 lb-ft (258 Nm) of torque. That’s probably just enough to make it a decent cruiser, but won’t be enough to give any kind of excitement. Those qualities are reserved for the engine upgrade option, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four that outputs 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque (183 kW and 373 Nm). Both engines will mate to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Sport will have all-wheel drive as standard on all models. This will include an “advanced 4×4 system” with a twin-clutch rear-drive unit that includes a differential lock. Like its larger sibling, it also has G.O.A.T. modes for its terrain management, allowing the driver to select from up to seven options to adjust the drivetrain to varied conditions or needs. Special editions (Badlands, First Edition) will include special tuning for a more off-road aim.
Both 17- and 18-inch wheels are specified, but the Badlands and First Edition models will have larger 28.5- and 29-inch tires from Pirelli and Falken. The tires specified for the Sport make a big difference in ground clearance, with standard options having 7.8 in (19.8 cm) and the larger Falken upgrades boosting that by an inch to 8.8 in (22.4 cm). The wheelbase is just over 105 in (266.7 cm) and its track width is 63.4 in (161 cm) at the front and 62.8 in (159.5 cm) at the rear.
For its size, the aggressiveness of the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is clear in its off-road metrics. Standard numbers for the rig are 21.7 degrees in approach, 18.2 degrees in breakover, and 30.4 degrees in departure. The Badlands and First Edition models, though, change those numbers to 30.4 degrees in approach, 20.4 degrees in breakover, and 33.1 degrees in departure. Water fording is rated at 17.7 in (45 cm) in the standard models and 23.6 in (60 cm) in the more aggressive options. This all indicates that while the Sport model may be far more road worthy and more of a daily drive than is the larger Bronco, it will still be surprisingly capable when off the paved path for occasional weekend adventuring.
So far, there is no pricing information, fuel economy estimates, and so on. It will arrive earlier than the full-sized Bronco, though. Ford expects the 2021 Bronco Sport to become available in late 2020 and is taking reservations now.
Here’s look at the new Bronco family:
2021 Ford Bronco Family: The Return | Ford