It’s Bronco day, and Ford has not one but three different versions of its rebooted icon. First of the new family will be the 2021 Bronco Sport. It’ll be a compact SUV, smaller than the other two versions, and act as the entry point into Bronco ownership before the 2021 Bronco two-door and four-door arrive next year.
As you’d expect it’ll be 4×4 as standard, though the two engines Ford has in mind might not be those you’d predict. The Bronco Sport Badlands and First Edition versions will get a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine with additional transmission and rear drive coolers, expected to offer 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. The Bronco Sport Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks versions, meanwhile, will get the 1.5-liter EcoBoost, expected to get 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft.
Either way an 8-speed automatic is standard. The Sport, Badlands, and First Edition trims will get SelectShift with steering wheel paddles.
The 4×4 system fitted varies depending on trim, too. Badlands and First Edition SUVs get a twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock, that Ford says works similarly to a mechanical locking diff. It can push almost all of the rear axle torque to either the left or right wheel, depending on traction demands.
The Terrain Management System gets up to seven “G.O.A.T. Modes”: all five trims have Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand, while Badlands and First Edition add Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes. All get independent front and rear suspension; Badlands and First Edition versions get new front strut tuning with hydraulic rebound stops, and 46mm diameter monotone rear shocks.
Optional is Trail Control, effectively cruise control for off-roading. It maxes out at up to 20 mph going forward, or 6 mph in reverse, and leaves the Bronco Sport to handle the throttle and the brakes. The driver, then, can focus on steering. There, an optional off-road camera with lens washer might help. Rock Crawl mode tweaks the electronic power steering for more precision in low-speed maneuvers.
Four steel bash plates, and optional front tow hooks – each capable of handling up to 100-percent of the Bronco Sport’s gross weight – are on offer as well. Badlands and First Edition cars can deal with up to 23.6-inches of water, the former having 28.5-inch all-terrain tires as standard, and latter getting 29-inch versions with deeper, more aggressive treads.
Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard, with pre-collision assistance with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, forward collision warnings, blind spot information with cross traffic alert, lane-keeping, and auto high-beams. Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ is optional, with Adaptive Cruise Control with lane-centering, evasive stewing assist, and navigation. With Co-Pilot 360 Assist 2.0, there’s intelligent adaptive cruise control, lane-centering, and speed sign recognition.
Ford is claiming best-in-class first and second row headroom, plus enough cargo height to stand two 27.5-inch wheel mountain bikes up. That’ll be with a bike accessory, one of more than 100 different add-ons that’ll be available for the Bronco Sport at launch.
They’ll join things like a flip-glass rear window, roof rack, slide-out working table, and a 400 watt inverter that can be added. Liftgate flood lamps are available too, while Badlands and First Edition cars get washable rubber flooring throughout, cloth seats that can be readily cleaned, and silicone-sealed controls.
SYNC 3 is standard, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an 8-inch touchscreen. The entry-level 2021 Bronco Sport Base gets 4G and WiFi hotspot support, 17-inch Sparkle Silver wheels, a safari-style roof, and liftgate adjustable flood lights. It starts at $28,155.
Big Bend trim throws in Carbonized Gray-painted wheels, rubberized cargo floor, cloth bucket seats, two-way manually folding second row seats and a rear center armrest, second row side and cargo area privacy glass, heated side mirrors, push-button start, and SiriusXm. Outer Banks upgrades to 18-inch Ebony Black painted wheels with 225/60R18 all-season tires, ambient lighting, front and rear carpets, a 6.5-inch digital instrumentation panel, and remote start.
It also gets sport contour, leather-trimmed heated front bucket seats, with eight-way power driver’s adjustment and six-way for the passenger, a heated leather-wrapped wheel, rain-sensing wipers with de-icer, and remote sensing.
Badlands has Trail Control, metal bash plates, the front 180-degree camera, and front tow hooks. Finally, the 2021 Bronco Sport First Edition – of which only 2,000 will be produced – gets 18-inch Ebony Black painted wheels, body color door handles, the Class II trailer tow package, Navy Pier Leather eight-way power driver’s seat and six-way passenger seat, a heated leather steering wheel, power moonroof, and 10-speaker B&O audio system.
The 2021 Bronco Sport is expected to arrive in dealerships later in 2020. Reservations are being taken online from today, at $100.