Test Drive Notes Library
- Looks. Ford nailed this one. With all the jellybean shaped crossovers invading the Trader Joe’s parking lots on weekends, here comes a rugged, outdoorsy, squared off, small SUV whose design harkens back to the 1970s, but whose innards are all 2021. From the stepped up roof to the big, useless bulges in the hood, the Bronco Sport’s design screams rugged. Yet it’s a smooth, efficient, modern crossover. We bet that’ll be appealing to a percentage of people who are shopping in the practical aisle for the likes of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4.
- Easy and comfortable. Ford has equipped different editions of the Bronco Sport for different uses. While some boost the off-road abilities, our Outer Banks version is designed for urban and suburban roadways ($32K base price, $36K as tested). Don’t worry, you still get all the cool Bronco Sport looks, and no one has to know that your idea of a good time does not include spending the weekend slapping mosquitoes off of your face and sleeping on a tree root. We found our Bronco Sport easy to drive and easy to live with. It’s easy to get into and out of, comfortable to ride around in, easy to maneuver and see out of, and has all the basic conveniences most people want.
- Handling. The Bronco Sport is based on the same bones as the Ford Escape. That means it corners crisply, without much body lean, and absorbs rough roadways well. Its highway manners are excellent, and there’s a comfortable softness to the ride you don’t expect given its looks. On the console you’ll see a knob that says G.O.A.T. That stands for Go Over Any Terrain. There you’ll find drive modes like Normal, Sport, and Eco, in addition to Slippery and Sand. We kept looking for the far more useful “Driveway” and “Mall Parking Lot” modes, but we’re guessing the marketing team didn’t approve those.
- Powertrain. The Bronco Sport comes with two engine options, a 1.5L, three cylinder turbo that makes 181hp, and a four cylinder turbo that makes 250hp. The Outer Banks version is paired with the three-cylinder engine. What? A three cylinder engine on a rough and tough Ford Bronco (Sport)?? Yup. And it’s plenty good enough. Matched to a smooth, 8-speed automatic, the 1.5L engine provided adequate power in all of our normal, day to day driving. A “sport” mode raised the shift points and made the Bronco Sport a little quicker to respond to gas-pedal input. But around town and on the highway, it didn’t need any help. And here’s the kicker. We got between 26 and 27 mpg combined. In a four-wheel-drive Bronco.
- Airy interior. Because of the boxy shape and high roof, the Bronco Sport feels roomier than it should. Those who like to wear 10, or even 25-gallon hats while driving will appreciate the head room. Great headroom extends to the rear seat passengers, and the boxy shape makes the rear cargo area very usable. Up front, the controls are simple and straightforward, with clear knobs for volume, tuning, and the dual temperature settings. The infotainment screen, while quite modest by today’s standards at 8-inches, is well placed, at the top of the console where it’s easy to see quickly. And Ford’s Sync system is easy and intuitive to use.
- Standard safety. Ford has a safety suite they call Ford Co-Pilot 360. It’s standard on the Bronco Sport, and includes all the important stuff: Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear-cross traffic alerts, and lane keeping assistance. Even automatic high beams. The only safety-related extra is adaptive cruise control, which we assume adds highway-speed AEB. We’d opt for that.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Power. If you like your vehicles overpowered, you’ll want to opt for a Bronco Sport with the 2.0L four cylinder engine. We found the 1.5L three perfectly good, but with the transmission programmed to maximize mileage, there were times when we had to wait a second for the transmission to downshift before getting a jolt of acceleration. We honestly didn’t care. But if you do, get the bigger engine. You’ll pay a little more and lose about 3-4 mpg.
- Basic interior. Because the Bronco Sport is retro, the simple interior seems to fit well. But it’s not luxurious. If you’re looking to be coddled with cushy leather seats and lots of aluminum, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
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