Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A close up of a red 2023 Ford Bronco Sport driving on a dirt road is shown.

Which Ford Bronco Sport Is Right for You?

The Bronco Sport is more than just the little sibling to the fantastic Ford Bronco; it’s one of the most impressive subcompact crossover models ever to hit the market. It would’ve been easy for Ford to make a model loosely based on the Bronco, with a few obligatory features loosely based on going off-road, call it the “Bronco Sport,” and sell it as little more than a dedicated mall crawler. In reality, though, looking at the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport, they instead delivered a truly exceptional machine for leaving the city behind and hitting the trail.

With six fantastic trims available, choosing the right Bronco Sport with everything you need can get tricky. The last thing you want to do is choose something that seems great; that’s easy since all of them are great, but realize a few months down the line that you missed out on something you really wanted. Never fret, however, because I’m here to help take you through all six trims for the 2023 Bronco Sport to see what they offer and how they differ. While I can’t choose the best one for you, I don’t know you like that, I can point you in the right direction.

The Bronco Sport Base

The Bronco Sport Base is, as the name conveniently suggests, the base or starting trim for this model, and it’s a great place to begin. It comes with the standard 1.5L EcoBoost engine that delivers 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque; that might seem a bit low, but remember, this is a subcompact model, and it’s quite a bit smaller than the Bronco. Four-wheel drive is standard on the Bronco Sport Base, and the engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that’s responsive and delivers a smooth drive.

You get 17-inch wheels on the Base model wrapped in all-season tires, which isn’t ideal, but this is the standard trim. It comes with a manual liftgate with flip-up rear glass that gives you easy access to the rear cargo area, plus a safari-style roof for added height and more space inside to fit taller items. There’s a 4.2-inch display for the instrument cluster in the Base trim, along with an 8-inch infotainment screen and a six-speaker sound system. Cloth seating is standard with a six-way manual driver’s seat and four-way front-passenger seat, plus you get advanced safety features like pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and much more.

The standard 4×4 system isn’t the only thing that makes the Base trim of the Bronco Sport an amazing off-road machine. Every model comes with a High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension (HOSS) that provides incredible performance on the trail and over rough terrain. In addition, you get Ford’s Terrain Management System with five standard Goes Over Any Type of Terrain (GOAT) modes that you can switch between: Sand, Slippery, Sport, Eco, and Normal. This lets you adjust easily to whatever the road or trail throws at you and get the right kind of traction and performance for any situation.

A red 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Big Bend is shown driving on a dusty dirt road.

The Bronco Sport Big Bend

Next up, we have the Big Bend, which adds a number of standard and available options to the Base model to give you more functionality and luxury. For example, the Big Bend has the same safety features as the Base, including a blind spot information system, lane-keeping system, and auto high-beam headlamps; it adds to this with available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane centering along with rear parking sensors, both of which aren’t offered for the Base. Overall performance, including off-road functionality, is the same.

You get some niceties inside the Big Bend, like automatic temperature control with a rear air duct, rather than the single-zone manual climate control in the Base. The Big Bend has Intelligent Access, so you don’t have to use your key to get in, with a push-button start, plus a MOLLE Straps System that adds functional storage to the backs of the front seats. Available options inside include a wireless charging pad, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and power moonroof.

The Bronco Sport Heritage

The Sport Heritage has many of the same standard and available features as the Big Bend, with a few notable differences. A heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel is available for the Heritage, and it features unique plaid cloth seating, heated front seats, and an eight-way power driver’s seat are available for the Heritage and Big Bend. One thing I like: the Heritage comes with 17-inch Continental All-Terrain tires rather than the all-season tires of the previous two trims.

The Bronco Sport Outer Banks

With the Outer Banks trim, you get even more great features like heated side mirrors to keep them clear in cold weather and privacy glass for the second-row side windows and liftgate. The Outer Banks has dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control, a 6.5-inch LCD screen in the instrument panel, and ambient lighting for a more-refined interior. A heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel comes standard in this trim, plus there’s an available 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system; leather-trimmed, heated front seats with eight-way and six-way power-adjustable front seats are also standard. Although the Outer Banks comes with 18-inch wheels and all-season tires standard, you can choose the all-terrain tires of the Heritage model.

The Bronco Sport Badlands

Next up, we have the first of two models that represent the ultimate level of off-road performance and power for the Bronco Sport. The Badlands trim comes with a 2.0L EcoBoost engine that delivers 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque for advanced power on the highway or trail. Along with an off-road suspension, the Badlands also comes with an advanced 4×4 system with a twin-clutch rear drive unit for improved traction and grip even in the most challenging circumstances. You also get 17-inch carbonized gray-painted aluminum wheels for the Badlands wrapped in Pirelli All-Terrain tires. Altogether, if you need something that can tackle difficult trails that most other vehicles can’t even dream of approaching, this is a great choice.

A yellow 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited is shown parked on a dirt path through a grassy field.

The Bronco Sport Heritage Limited

Finally, the Heritage Limited is the highest expression of the design intent and concept behind the Bronco Sport and the best choice for unparalleled off-road performance. It has the more powerful engine you’ll find in the Badlands, along with the off-road suspension and advanced 4×4 system. Going even further, the Heritage Limited comes with Falken Wildpeak All-Terrain Off-Road tires that are available for the Badlands, but this is the only model with them standard. With these tires, you get 23.6 inches of water fording capability and 8.8 inches of ground clearance, plus an aggressive 30.4-degree approach angle, 20.4-degree breakover angle, and 33.1-degree departure angle.

You get a lot of great features that are offered as options on the Badlands, like dual-zone automatic climate control and the power moonroof, as standard on the Heritage Limited. It also has a wireless charging pad and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, plus it comes with the 10-speaker B&O sound system. Perhaps most impressive of all, the Heritage Limited comes with an improved version of the Terrain Management System with seven GOAT Modes; the Badlands also features this upgraded version of it. Along with the five standard modes, you get Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl Modes to take your trail performance to the next level.

Which One Calls to You?

As you can see, you can’t go wrong with any of the Ford Bronco Sport models, but there are some significant differences between them, particularly at certain trim levels. If you’re looking to do some light off-roading, then the Base is a great choice; from there, you can pick the Big Bend or Heritage for improved interior features. The Outer Banks is a great overall model for excellent luxury and technology inside your subcompact crossover. For doing some serious off-roading, however, you can’t beat the Badlands, and Sport Heritage trims with their more-powerful engines, advanced 4×4 systems, and superior Terrain Management features. Now all you have to do is choose the Bronco Sport that will take you on your next adventure (and many more in the years to come).