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The Long Awaited and Much Rumored “Baby Bronco” Is Finally Here!

2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Look.

Although the introduction of the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco has undoubtedly stole the show, equally as impressive is the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Positioned as a little brother to the larger Bronco, the Bronco Sport is a subcompact SUV that's just as focused on off-road capability as its larger sibling. Available only as a four-wheel-drive, the Bronco Sport is geared for not only folks with an active outdoor lifestyle, but also those who use devices other than the vehicle for recreation. For example, where prospective Bronco owners are more likely to use their vehicle as part of the adventure, Bronco Sport owners would rather haul their bikes, kayaks, or backpacking gear to the trailhead or park and head out into the woods.

The 2021 Bronco Sport will be offered in five trim levels: base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition. Of the five trims, Badlands and First Edition will be outfitted with the most rugged off-road gear. Chief among these are tires. Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks will be fitted with 28.5-inch all-season tires on either 17 or 18-inch wheels. Badlands will be available with an optional 29-inch all-terrain tire on 17-inch wheels, and the 29's will be standard on First Edition. Both Badlands and First Edition will come with a full-size spare.

"Bronco Sport has the toughness and smarts to help turn off-road novices into 4x4 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."

Other than size, the biggest differentiator between Bronco and Bronco Sport is Bronco Sport's lack of a two-speed transfer case. That's right, the baby Bronco does not have a low range. Nonetheless, Ford claims that the Bronco Sport will be the most capable vehicle in its respective class. The Bronco Sport will feature up to 8.8 inches of ground clearance, a 30.4-degree approach angle, 33.1-degree departure angle, 20.4-degree breakover angle, and a water fording depth of up to 23.6 inches. Impressively, the Bronco Sport will also have 7.4 inches of front suspension wheel travel and 8.1 inches of rear travel. Interestingly, the Bronco Sport utilizes twin-tube shock absorbers in the front and monotube dampers in the rear. Installed on Badlands and First Edition trims are front twin-tube dampers with hydraulic rebound stops, which make for a quieter and more controlled ride off-road.

Let's face it, in this space electronics are the name of the game and Bronco Sport comes loaded with an advanced feature set that keeps the off-road fun going. Much like Bronco, Bronco Sport comes equipped with G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Terrain) Modes. Through the vehicle's terrain management system, drivers can select from Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand drive modes. Additionally, available on Badlands and First Edition models are Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl. These different modes work in conjunction with throttle and transmission shift mapping along with the dual-clutch rear drive unit, more on that in a minute.

The Bronco Sport also utilizes Ford's Trail Control technology, which was first debuted on Raptor and Ranger. Trail Control helps to further the vehicle's already stellar off-road prowess by taking the duties of managing the brakes and accelerator from the driver and allowing them to focus more on steering and the trail ahead. The system works at speeds of up to 20 mph in drive and 6 mph in reverse, and it is perfectly suited for climbing uneven grades and descending steep hills.

Badlands and First Edition models will receive an impressive twin-clutch rear drive unit. What this type of differential enables is for the vehicles to send nearly all of the available torque to one wheel or the other. It also enables the rear end to fully lock, sending an equal amount of torque to each of the rear wheels much like a traditional mechanical locking differential. We've seen and experienced this sort of torque vectoring technology in larger vehicles in the past and the result is a very capable off-road machine. Ford claims that this is the first time this technology has been used in the non-premium sub-compact segment.

Powering the Bronco Sport are a pair of EcoBoost engine options. Fitted in base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks is a 1.5L I-4 that is expected to produce 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. Badlands and First Edition receive the larger 2.0L I-4, which Ford is targeting 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Badlands and First Edition Bronco Sports are also fitted with additional transmission and rear drive unit coolers for cooler operation over extended rough terrain. All Bronco Sports receive an 8-speed automatic transmission (sorry, no manual gearbox here), while Badlands and First Edition models get steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Aside from its mechanical hardware, the 2021 Bronco Sport is ready for any adventure that might be thrown its way. The interior is large enough that with the rear seats folded a pair of 27.5-inch mountain bikes will stow vertically in the cargo area (using the optional Yakima dealer-installed accessory mounting kit, obviously). Inside, there are other smart features for the overlander in all of us, including MOLE straps to carry extra gear, zippered seatback pockets, LED floodlamps built into the liftgate, and even a bottle opener for those craft root beers your hipster buddy brought along. A flip-glass rear window (remember those?) and low load floor make packing up a breeze. And a roof rack with plenty of capacity for a rooftop tent makes the Bronco Sport the perfect basecamp.

Making post-adventure cleanup easy, Badlands and First Edition Bronco Sports offer washable rubber flooring throughout the vehicle, along with easy-to-clean cloth seating surfaces, and silicon-sealed control switches. If there's muddy boots or wet waders to be stored, a waterproof storage bin is located below the second-row passenger-side seat.

Bronco Sport will launch with more than 100 factory-backed and aftermarket accessories. This will enable owners to fully personalize their Bronco Sports to their tastes and adventure styles, while also allowing dealers the ability to outfit each vehicle on-demand. Four lifestyle packs will also be available at launch, themed to Bike, Snow, Water, and Camping.

Of course, the 2020 Bronco Sport will come loaded with all of the other goodies we're used to seeing by now. The vehicle will have an 8-inch touch screen running Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system with available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ford's Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features will be standard across the Bronco Sport lineup, with CoPilot360 Assist-2.0 being optional (this brings adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and speed sign recognition).

Overall, we're incredibly excited for the return of the entire Bronco family. And for those in the market for a compact SUV with the heart and soul of an off-road legend, the Bronco Sport fits the bill perfectly. Given the impressive set of features, we're excited to get behind the wheel of a Bronco Sport and give it a go in the backcountry. On paper, the Bronco Sport has plenty of ground clearance, decent power, and enough electronic wizardry to make any youngster geek out. If the 2021 Bronco Sport is half as good as think it will be, Ford will certainly have another winner on its hands.