2021 Ford Bronco Sport Debuts Alongside Its Big Brother, Aims To Be Another Thorn In Jeep’s Side

This time, Ford's crossover-based off-road SUV takes aim at the Jeep Compass

The Bronco Sport offers a softer version of the full Bronco experience.

If you’re looking to occasionally get out on the trails or do some camping, you don’t necessarily need something as large and dedicated as, say, a Jeep Wrangler or indeed the 2021 Ford Bronco. That’s where it’s baby brother, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, steps in. The iconic SUV’s smaller sibling also debuted Monday as the “family” of models takes shape, including the full-size two and four-door Bronco models. If you want to find out more on that, check out that coverage right here.

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport will go on sale later this year. [Photos: Ford]

So, what do we have here? It’s what ford calls “the Bronco of small SUVs”. In other words, something that offers the Bronco look without all the baked-in off-road engineering you may not need or want on a regular basis. It’s meant more as an all-around lifestyle crossover than tackle the world’s toughest trails. To wit, Ford says it can fit two mountain bikes standing up in the cargo area, and it comes with more than 100 standalone accessories to suit your adventure needs.

Like the 2021 Ford Bronco, reservations for the Bronco Sport are open today for $100. The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport starts at $28,155 including Ford’s $1,495 destination fee. Unlike rivals like the Jeep Compass, the Bronco Sport only comes in all-wheel drive variants, regardless of which trim you buy.

What’s under the hood

Frankly, we don’t really expect big engines under the hood these days, and that’s the case with the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. While the big brother has a 2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4 and a 2.7-liter V6, this gets the smaller EcoBoost engines also found in the new Ford Escape. Both mate up to an eight-speed automatic transmission, although the larger engine does come with a manual shifting mode. The entry-level 1.5-liter mill produces 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. Opt for the larger 2.0-liter engine instead, and you’ll get a meatier 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. The bigger engine actually puts the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport well out ahead of its rivals in terms of power, and even puts it in league with the larger Jeep Cherokee.

Up front, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport has standard independent MacPherson strut suspension on coil springs. Around the back, it has an independent double lateral link semi-trailing arm setup, also with coils. However, you can get the Bronco Sport with available front hydraulic rebound stops, that should help make for a quieter ride and less jarring off-road experience. Badlands and First Edition models have a twin-clutch rear-drive unit, which appropriates power similar to a mechanical locking differential.

While the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands and First Edition can wade through 23.6 inches of water, the off-roading specs are more your typical crossover than the larger Bronco. Ground clearance is 7.8 inches on the base and Big Bend models and 7.9 inches on the Outer Banks trim. Step up to the Badlands or First Edition and that ground clearance does go up to 8.8 inches with the optional 29-inch all-terrain tires. Approach angles stand at 30.7 degrees on the Badlands, while breakover is 20.4 degrees and the departure angle is 33.1 degrees. Those figures aren’t bad, but the other models all fare worse, since they’re lower to the ground.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Trim levels

Ford will open orders for the Bronco Sport with four distinct trim levels, as well as a First Edition limited to a 2,000-unit production run. The base model, Big Bend and Outer Banks come with the smaller 1.5-liter engine, while the top-end Badlands and the First Edition get the larger 2.0-liter unit.

No matter which version you buy, the Bronco Sport comes with a Terrain Management system with five “G.O.A.T. Modes (Go Over Any Terrain), including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand and Mud/Ruts. Rock Crawl is available on the Badlands and First Edition. Features like the flip-up liftgate glass, safari-style roof, the Ford Co-Pilot 360 driver assistance suite and 4G LTE connectivity through an 8.0-inch SYNC 3 infotainment system also come standard, as does Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.

Features like larger wheels, SiriusXM satellite ratio, and more advanced comfort and convenience features come as part of higher trim packages, shown below:

Trail Control is another feature exclusive to the Badlands and First Edition Bronco Sport. It uses a cruise-control like setting to control throttle and braking up to 20 mph when moving forward and up to 6 mph in reverse. A front-mounted camera with a lens washer also helps keep track of obstacles on the trail.

More Bronco coverage

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport will go on sale before its big brother, but the full-size Bronco rounds out the new family of models. We have much more coverage across all our channels, which you can check out with the Bronco Sport photo gallery below:

2021 Ford Bronco Sport photo gallery