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After all these luggage tests, it’s become abundantly clear that boxy is better when it comes to cargo capacity. There’s just bound to be less unused space and fewer awkward angles that normally pad a cargo area’s official cubic-foot volume. On paper, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport has 32.5 cubic-feet of cargo space behind its back seat, which obliterates all the other in-betweener-sized compact crossovers, including the surprisingly spacious Kia Seltos. It’s also only 1 cubic-foot less than the Ford Escape’s cargo area. Or is it?
First, like many crossovers these days including the Escape, the Bronco Sport cargo floor can be placed at two heights: one that ensures maximum capacity and another that ensures a flat floor when the back seatback is lowered. As always, I did all following tests with the lower position.
As in every luggage test I do, I use two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife’s fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).
All the bags fit with room to spare. I could even put the tallest two bags upright without impeding rear visibility or stopping the hatch from closing.
Let’s compare this with the Ford Escape, which is about 8 inches longer on the outside. And again, the specs say it has 33.5 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the back seat versus the Bronco Sport’s 32.5.
Uh, what the hell? These are the exact same bags in a space that’s supposedly a cubic-foot bigger. Sure, it’s less boxy, but still.
Then answer, my friends, is that the Escape number is almost certainly achieved by utilizing its sliding back seat, a feature not available on the Bronco Sport.
See, with the seats slid forward (as shown above), the amount of leftover space seems comparable to what’s remaining in the Bronco Sport. However, look how little space is between the top of the tallest bags and the roof?
So, although the Escape is without question the better choice if you’re prioritizing passenger space (especially if you have a rear-facing child seat), the Bronco Sport is Ford’s compact crossover cargo champion.
And here’s what you can manage with that extra space.
That would be a Graco Pack ‘N Play and a small triangular carry on that fits perfectly atop one of the roller bags. This amount is equal to the Nissan Rogue.
Since the Bronco Sport includes this sturdy raised roof rails, I figured I’d effectively test its cargo capacity when using a 16-cubic-foot cargo carrier. Specifically, the Yakima CBX, which I reviewed last year. That sucker could hold the three biggest bags and then the smaller blue roll-aboard. I then loaded a variety of test vehicles with the same “leftover” items to demonstrate how much room is left over. You can see those cars in the gallery below with the Bronco Sport thereafter.
OK, now that cargo capacity is out of the way, let’s talk about some of the Bronco Sport’s cargo-related features.
Being boxy has another advantage: it makes it possible to have a separately opening rear window. Ford makes it easy to figure out which side to use to open the glass and door. This is a handy feature should you want to quickly pop something into the cargo area (especially if it’s loaded to the gills and you don’t want anything to fall out), or longer items like surfboards.
The liftgate also has two huge grab handles that double as hanging points for wet items. Most trim levels also come with two bright LED lights (turned on by that big button in the cargo area), which are intended to serve as camp workstation lighting. I could see these being particularly useful if you added something like Yakima’s Exo hitch-based cargo system to expand the Bronco Sport’s capability.
As you can also see in the above right picture, there are little hooks on both sides of the cargo area for securing whatever you’d like. It’s a nice idea, but the plastic seems a bit brittle and I question how long they’d last.
Finally, here’s maximum capacity on display along with the available sturdy, rubberized flooring that covers the seatbacks and cargo floor. And remember, the Bronco Sport’s “safari roof” was in part added to make it possible to store two bikes inside when you get a particular accessory. That looks like this.
Oh, and there’s a bottle opener back there too. Don’t need to worry about getting to the campsite and realizing you have a case of pop tops and no opener. Phew.