Bronco Sport is Compact but Mighty

We’re still riding that Bronco wave of excitement and today we’ve got more details for you. Bronco Sport, Ford’s new ‘Bronco of small SUVs’ plays smaller sibling to the 2-door and 4-door Broncos. The Sport, which appears to be aimed at weekend warriors and a more general audience of would-be Bronco owners, debuts with a slightly subdued, almost urban styling. But make no mistake, this is still a Bronco, and Ford promises off-road performance. “Bronco Sport has the toughness and smarts to help turn off-road novices into 4×4 pros,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer. “Bronco Sport embraces the needs of outdoor enthusiasts – every inch of it was designed and engineered with weekend adventurers in mind.”


4×4 Performance

Similar to the 2-door and 4-door Broncos, the Bronco Sport will be offered in multiple trim options including the base model, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition. The Badlands and First Edition models both come with advanced 4×4 systems including a twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock feature for improved off-road performance. Similar to a traditional mechanical locking differential, this system can reroute virtually all rear axle torque to either wheel.


Bronco Sport will also benefit from Ford’s trail technologies, specifically its ‘Terrain Management System’, offering up to seven available G.O.A.T. (go over any terrain) Modes. All trims will include the standard modes including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand while the Badlands and First Edition trims will see the addition of Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes.


Ford says that all Bronco Sport models benefit from a suspension that has been tested in demanding environments and tuned for drivers to “aggressively take on rugged terrain.” Badlands and First Edition models benefit from uniquely tuned front struts with hydraulic rebound stops designed to provide a quieter, less jarring off-road experience. 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.


Four steel bash plates come standard and optional frame-mounted front tow hooks can individually withstand static loads up to 100 percent of the gross vehicle weight. Badlands and First Edition enjoy the additional capability of being able to wade through up to 23.6 inches of water.


Badlands trim comes standard with 28.5-inch all-terrain tires and First Edition comes standard with 29-inch all-terrain off-road tires.


Power & Trail Tech

Bronco Sport is offered with two different engine options depending on which trim you choose. The base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks models will feature a 1.5-liter Ecoboost engine offering approximately 181 horsepower and 190 lb.-ft. of torque. The Badlands and First Edition come standard with a 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine that produces 245 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. Whether you choose 1.5 or 2.0, you’ll get an 8-speed automatic transmission but, surprise surprise, the Badlands and First Edition get ‘SelectShift’ with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters (we’re picking up on the pattern here, right?). A cooling system with additional transmission and rear-drive coolers aims to keep the 2.0-liter models functional on taxing trails.


Rock Crawl mode features an electronic power steering assist system that is calibrated to provide more precise control and reduce steering wheel disturbance during low-speed maneuvers over rocky terrain.


For those who want the self-driving car experience (joking), Bronco Sport offers ‘Trail Control’ technology which 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. Optional front-facing off-road camera with lens washer replaces complements a spotter for better visibility of the trail ahead. The video is displayed on the center stack-mounted touch screen.


Like its bigger brethren, Bronco Sport comes with the Ford SYNC 3 system which can be operated from an 8” touch-screen display in the dash. Along with its other features, SYNC includes Ford+Alexa and Serius XM Radio.  The SYNC 3 system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


Additional driving tech: ‘The Ford Co-Pilot360™ suite of advanced driver-assist technologies is standard across the lineup, including Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking featuring Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, Auto High Beam Headlamps and a rearview camera. Available Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ technology includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering, Evasive Steering, and voice-activated touch screen navigation. Available Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0 technology adds Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, and Speed Sign Recognition.”


For the Outdoors Enthusiasts

Ultimately, Ford had outdoor enthusiasts in mind when they created the Bronco Sport. Additional design features include lift-gate LED floodlights, MOLLE straps to secure gear, zippered seatback pockets, and even a built-in bottle opener for when it’s time to crack that post-adventure beverage.


The safari-style roof of the Bronco Sport offers ample headroom for passengers and creates enough height to accommodate 27.5-inch-wheel mountain bikes which can be secured via an available Yakima dealer-installed interior bike rack accessory. Bronco Sport can be outfitted with over 100 factory-backed and aftermarket accessories to provide a ‘custom’ build that is uniquely designed for the end-user. Four additional ‘lifestyle accessory bundles’ labeled ‘Bike’, ‘Snow’, ‘Water’, and ‘Camping’ are tailored to their corresponding outdoor pursuits.


Bronco Sport offers a few more innovative (think overlanding & vanlife) features. There’s a slide-out work table, an ‘overlanding-ready roof rack with capacity to make roof-top tent camping easy’, a re-configurable cargo management system, and a 400-watt AC inverter.


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When he's not publishing campervan content or gear reviews on ExPo, Matt Swartz is honing his paragliding skills, hiking a 14er, or exploring the backroads of Colorado. His love of travel has seen him bike across the United States, as well as explore more exotic destinations like the Amazon basin and Patagonia. Matt spent three years living in a 1964 RV with his partner, Amanda. He's worked as an Interpretive Ranger and Wildland Firefighter and his photography and writing has been published in Rova Magazine, the Leatherman blog, 'Hit The Road' by Gestalten Publishing, and Forbes.