The 2021 Ford Bronco was unveiled tonight, alongside the Bronco Sport. The smaller Sport has a standard “4X4 system” which judging by Ford’s description is an off-road-optimized all-wheel-drive system. And, unlike the more hardcore Bronco, it gets a unibody structure and independent suspension front and rear. It bears some mechanical similarities to the Ford Escape, though looking through the specs it should be pretty capable.
Bronco Sport is smartly designed to transport two mountain bikes standing up in its cargo area – and two cyclists up front. Four available accessory bundles – in addition to more than 100 factory-backed standalone accessories – let owners easily make the vehicle their own by outfitting it to transport kayaks, skis, camping equipment or whatever gear propels their adventure.
The Bronco Sport will have five different trims offering different levels of comfort and capability.
For maximum off-road capability and long-term durability, Bronco Sport was tested in extreme conditions in places such as the Johnson Valley desert in California, as part of Built Wild Extreme Durability Testing. Badlands and First Edition models pack an advanced 4x4 system with a class-exclusive twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock feature to allow greater off-road performance – similar to a traditional mechanical locking differential. The system can divert virtually all rear axle torque to either wheel, setting it apart from any other vehicle in the non-premium subcompact utility segment.
Bronco Sport’s suspension can take on rugged terrain and is complemented by Ford’s trail technologies. The small SUV’s Terrain Management System™ with up to seven available G.O.A.T. Modes™ helps drivers “go over any type of terrain” and in various conditions. Standard modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand; Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes are available on Badlands and First Edition.
Even more modes across the various trims:
All models feature an independent front and rear suspension engineered and performance-tested in demanding environments across North America. The suspension is optimized to help drivers confidently maintain vehicle composure while aggressively taking on rugged terrain.
On Badlands and First Edition series, the system includes uniquely tuned front struts with hydraulic rebound stops designed to provide a quieter, less jarring off-road experience. In addition, 46-millimeter-diameter monotube rear shocks are among the largest in the class, helping provide improved response and more comfort off-road, while softer springs and antiroll bars offer greater articulation over obstacles.
Class-exclusive Trail Control™ technology furthers the vehicle’s off-road prowess. The available feature enables a cruise control-like setting up to 20 mph forward and 6 mph in reverse for vehicle-controlled throttle and braking, letting the driver stay focused on navigating the trail.
For adventurers taking on rough and rocky terrain, the small SUV’s design includes made-for-the-trails departure, approach and breakover angles. An available class-exclusive front off-road camera with lens washer serves as a spotter and helps provide better visibility of the trail ahead, displaying the video on the center stack-mounted touch screen.
In Rock Crawl mode, the electronic power steering assist system is uniquely calibrated to provide more precise control and help reduce steering wheel disturbance during low-speed maneuvers over rocky terrain.
Off-road capability is further reinforced by four steel bash plates, plus available frame-mounted front tow hooks that can individually withstand static loads up to 100 percent of the gross vehicle weight. Badlands and First Edition can wade through up to 23.6 inches of water.
The power numbers aren’t crazy but I think Ford is trading more on styling, capability and off-roady options with the Bronco than raw power.
The Badlands and First Edition series are powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost® engine that produces a targeted best-in-class 245 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque for high-speed off-road performance*. Base, Big Bend and Outer Banks series feature the proven 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine with a targeted 181 horsepower and 190 lb.-ft. of torque*.
Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, while Bronco Sport Badlands and First Edition add SelectShift® with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to help drivers maximize control both on- and off-road. A cooling system with additional transmission and rear-drive coolers keeps 2.0-liter models running strong over tough terrain.
The Bronco Sport Base will start at $28, 155 including a $1,495 destination charge.
Update (July 13, 2020 11:26 P.M. ET) The Big Bend model starts at $29,655, Outer Banks starts at $33,625, Badlands is $34,155 and the First Edition starts at $34,155 with all prices inclusive of a $1,495 destination charge.