The Bronco gets an Escape-based companion

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2021 Ford Bronco Sport

While its big brother the Bronco takes on the Jeep Wrangler, the new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport goes after the Jeep Cherokee and Compass.

Ford revealed the 2021 Bronco Sport on Monday as a smaller, less capable off-roader that is still meant to conquer the terrain where the road ends.

Based on a modified version of the unibody platform from the Ford Escape, the Bronco Sport is a lower-cost, smaller, and slightly more refined alternative to the Bronco. It has independent front and rear suspensions rather than the Bronco’s solid rear axle, and it also lacks its larger sibling’s locking front and rear axles.

Set for release this fall, the Bronco Sport will be offered in base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition models. The First Edition will be limited to 2,000 units. Higher-line models will not only get more equipment, but more off-road functionality. For instance, Badlands and First Edition models have hydraulic rebound stops on the front struts for less jarring during off-roading, large 46-millimeter-diameter monotube rear shocks for improved off-road ride quality, and softer springs and anti-roll bars for more suspension articulation.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Under the hood, the Bronco will come with a choice of two engines, a 181-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo-3 or a 245-hp turbo-4, both teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Turbo-4 models add steering wheel shift paddles and extra coolers for the transmission and rear differential. All models come with all-wheel drive; some offer a twin-clutch rear-drive unit that can send power to the rear wheel with grip. A standard terrain management system, which Ford labels G.O.A.T. for Goes Over Any Terrain, includes Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand modes, while the Badlands and First Edition models will add Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes.

The Bronco Sport will be able to tow up to 2,200 pounds and ford water as high as 23.6 inches thanks to a ground clearance as high as 8.8 inches (7.8 inches is standard) with the optional 29-inch tires. Approach, breakover, and departure angles top out at 30.4, 20.4, and 33.1 degrees, respectively, for the Badlands and First Edition models. An off-road cruise control can be set for up to 20 mph moving forward or 6 mph in reverse, the crawl ratio is 18:1, and an available forward-view camera shows the trail ahead. Four skid plates will be offered, as will front tow hooks. Ford will offer 17- and 18-inch wheels.

The Bronco Sport’s design has retro-inspired looks like its larger brother, with round headlights, flat side panels, and short front and rear overhangs.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

The design is also functional. The hatch area is tall enough to fit a pair of upright 27.5-inch mountain bikes (Ford will sell you the Yakima bike rack as an accessory). The rear glass flips up for easy access to the cargo area, and the higher-line models get washable rubber flooring in the passenger and cargo areas, easy-clean cloth upholstery, and silicone-sealed control switches.

A bin under the rear seat is ideal for stowing wet or muddy gear, and Ford will offer a configurable cargo management system with a slide-out table. Team that with a 400-watt inverter and liftgate floodlamps to create a convenient setup at a campsite or tailgate party. In addition, Ford is launching the Bronco Sport with more than 100 available accessories, including four packages aimed at camping, bikes, snow, and water.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Elsewhere in the interior the Bronco Sport features an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and modular Molle straps. Leather upholstery, navigation, and B&O audio will also be offered.

Ford will make its CoPilot-360 safety suite standard on the Bronco Sport. It includes forward-collision warnings with a pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Also offered are adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, evasive steering assist, speed limit recognition, and intelligent adaptive cruise control that slows down for new speed limits, junctions, and curves.

Ford is taking orders now with a deposit of $100 at Ford.com. The base model will start at $28,155, including destination. Watch for complete pricing closer to the Bronco Sport’s launch.

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Saurabh Shukla

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