Ford officially revived the Bronco name tonight, revealing a body-on-frame 4×4 with removable roof and doors, big off-road tires, and all kinds of capability to take on the Jeep Wrangler. But Ford knows not everyone wants a die-hard four-wheel drive. For more casual customers, Ford announced this new small crossover, the Bronco Sport.
A unibody crossover similar in size to a Toyota Rav-4 or Honda CR-V, the Bronco Sport promises to be more civilized and refined than the truck-like Bronco. The Sport will give up some capability—it has independent rear suspension, for example—but Ford says the CUV is more than an Escape with a Bronco badge. The automaker calls it “the Bronco of small SUVs.”
That means every Bronco Sports comes with four-wheel drive and Ford’s Terrain Management System standard. As with the bigger Bronco, that system includes configurable “G.O.A.T” modes (Goes Over Any type of Terrain—no, the acronym doesn’t make sense to us either), which adjust the engine response, traction control, transmission programming, and differential behavior to better handle mud, rocks, sand, snow, or just about anything else. On the hardcore “Badlands” model, the four-wheel-drive system even has a twin-clutch rear-drive unit that can simulate a locked differential. Skid plates are also included on the Badlands, which was benchmarked against vehicles like the Jeep Compass Trailhawk.
“Trail Control,” Ford’s take on an off-road cruise control system, is also available on the Bronco Sport, to help coach the car over tricky surfaces. Badlands models also get chunky 28.5-inch tires, enabling a max fording depth of 23.6 inches. An available front-mounted camera makes it easy to spot potential obstacles.
Bronco Sport powertrain options are pretty standard-fare. Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks models come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder that makes 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. Badlands and First Edition models offer a 245 hp, 275 lb-ft 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. All versions come with an eight-speed automatic as the only available transmission.
Styling is inspired by the bigger Bronco, with circular headlights and simple one-piece taillights tacked on to a blocky, minimally-adorned body. The safari-style roof improves rear headroom and cargo space, while a standard roof rack gives you more cargo flexibility. Like the big Bronco, the Sport is filled with little details to make outdoor life easier. Integrated flood lamps in the tailgate are positioned to help illuminate your camp site, for instance, and a bottle opener built into the trunk opening should be helpful at tailgates. MOLLE straps and zippered pockets in the seat backs keep important things secure even over rough terrain.
The Bronco Sport will benefit from a pretty expansive accessory catalog, just like its big brother. Ford’s already offering bundled, themed accessory packs that include everything you need for winter trips, mountain biking, camping, or watersports. A rubberized load floor is available, too.
And as with any new product launch, technology is a key part of the Bronco Sport’s debut. It’ll have Sync 3 infotainment, a bundle of Co-Pilot 360 active safety systems like lane keeping and adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
Bronco Sport deliveries should kick off toward the end of 2020. You can reserve one today for $100 and, if you go for the Badlands or First Edition, you’ll get access to the Bronco Off-Roadeo driving school.
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