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A red 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks is shown towing dirt bikes over dirt.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport: Efficient and Capable

Remember the Bronco? If you do, then you should get excited because it is back on the market. However, it’s not alone, and part of its revival came as an efficient and off-road capable SUV. This is the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, and while it shares the same Bronco namesake as the regular one, this one is specifically built for those who want an exclusively off-roading SUV on the market today. There are three things that manufacturers have to consider when developing a brand new vehicle that’s meant for sport rather than casual leisure. First, the car needs performance, needs a 4×4 system and various off-roading tech, and needs to be built to withstand the harshness of the trails. With the Bronco Sport, you can add efficiency to that list too.

The 2021 Bronco Sport comes in at a lower starting price than the regular Bronco, but this is expected given its size and performance differentials. For the 2021 Bronco Sport, the MSRP starts at $27,215 for its base model, simply called Base. Three additional trims make up the rest of the model’s lineup, every one of them using the same name as trim levels you’ll find on the standard Bronco. The regular Bronco, in comparison, starts at $28,500 for the Base trim but has six trims instead of four. So this smaller Bronco has fewer trims but also comes in at a much lower price, making it more accessible than the larger Bronco.

Off-Roading Performance

Remember, performance is an important part of what makes an off-roading vehicle worth your time, and the Bronco Sport offers some impressive performance. While the regular Ford Bronco may be marketed as an Off-Road SUV, the Bronco Sport deserves equal treatment. Ford has been utilizing new EcoBoost Turbo engines in some of its vehicles, in which there are four in total for both Broncos, two for the Sport, and two for the regular SUV. Understandably, the Bronco gets the two more powerful options, but the two inside of the Bronco Sport still create ample performance and even better fuel efficiency. The two turbocharged engines inside of the Bronco sport is a 1.5L I-3, or a 2.0L I-4, the latter of which provides comparable performance to the 2.3L I-4 inside of the standard Bronco.

EcoBoost engines are most notable for a mixture of performance and efficiency, which is perfect for traveling on long trails. The base 1.5L Turbo I-3 comes paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and it gives the Bronco Sport 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. As I mentioned, fuel efficiency is a real strong point with this engine. This 1.5L turbo I-3 will save you the most money for two reasons, those being its fuel-saving capabilities and accessibility as it’s the engine you’ll get with the base model. EPA-estimated ratings for this engine are 25 MPG in the city, 28 MPG on the highway, and 26 MPG combined, so you’ll master that trail and not have to worry about the fuel tank as much. This engine also lends the ability for towing, albeit lighter tasks that don’t exceed 2,000 lbs in capacity.

Paying a bit more will net you with an upgraded 2.0L Turbo I-4, which pairs with an 8-speed automatic transmission. As I had mentioned prior, this engine offers rather comparable performance to the base engine of the standard Bronco. The Bronco Sport’s engine will produce 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, making for a 38% upgrade in horsepower over the base engine and an even wider gap in torque output of nearly 46%. Stacked against the base engine in the Bronco, which has 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque standard, it’s impressive considering the price difference.

A close up shows the black alloy wheel on a yellow 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands.

Off-Roading Features

What’s an off-roading vehicle if it doesn’t have the necessary equipment and tech to get the job done? The way we see it, the Bronco Sport is one of the most capable off-roading vehicles in its price range for reasons we’ll get to shortly. However, one of the most necessary features that comes standard on every Bronco Sport is a four-wheel drive system. Don’t even think about taking your vehicle out on the trail if it’s only equipped with front-wheel drive, but that isn’t a problem for Bronco Sport owners.

The next feature that we find immensely helps the off-roading experience is what’s referred to as G.O.A.T. Modes. Essentially the way you utilize this is simply by twisting a knob to select which mode you’d like to drive in. There are five distinctive modes that you can select between, each serving a different purpose when the moment calls for it. These five modes are Sand, Slippery, Sport, Eco, and Normal, and they are specialized to give you the best driving experience in different situations. There are two more modes, Rock Crawl and Mud/Ruts, but these are exclusive to the Badlands trim level.

Truth be told, there’s one more key aspect to creating the quintessential off-roading vehicle, and that’s providing the right suspension. Ford calls its system the H.O.S.S. Suspension, which stands for High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension system. Yes, that’s a mouth full, but all you need to know is that the Bronco Sport can withstand those hasher terrains by providing more balance and flexibility. With off-roading vehicles, you want to avoid stiff suspensions because of the danger of tipping over, but an off-roading oriented suspension can provide variable heights to your wheels. The Bronco Sport’s suspension won’t pose as much of a danger as a traditional suspension system.

Lastly, we wanted to mention a key feature that will help you get to places you’ve never been before. The aforementioned Badlands trim is equipped with an excellent water fording depth, so your Bronco Sport can travel through waters as deep as 23.6 inches. That’s nearly 2 feet of water that you can submerge your vehicle into without posing an actual threat; it just simply works. So, if you find yourself on trails that head through rivers and over trees, you shouldn’t have any trouble in a Bronco Sport.

A grey 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is parked in the desert with bikes in the trunk.

It’s All for Sport

I think it’s fair to say that the return of the Bronco, while likely expected for those hardcore Ford enthusiasts, came as a surprise to many. The addition of a new model, though, was even more unseen but suffice to say we’re glad it exists. Will this affect the sales of the original Bronco? We don’t think so, and that’s because the Bronco Sport is aimed at a different albeit somewhat similar type of driver. Both vehicles are off-roading capable, but if you want a cheaper alternative to the large Bronco, then this is a fantastic choice and is definitely worth your money.

It’s no secret that the original Bronco model was long discontinued before its return and the release of the Bronco Sport that came alongside it. Ford is putting in extra time and effort to ensure that its comeback is the best it can be, and the Bronco Sport may very well become the more popular option in the end. Only time will tell, but we definitely think that the Bronco Sport should be a contender for the next vehicle that takes up space in your driveway.