A truck-based vehicle from Ford simply called Bronco will be out later this year. For now, we have the Bronco Sport.
It may be built on the Ford Escape platform but the Bronco Sport has serious off-road chops. Those knobby Falken tires will come in handy in rock crawl mode, one of seven modes in the badlands edition.
A look underneath shows lots of shielding for the gas tank and other components. The badlands also gets extra power, a turbo two-liter four pumping out 250 horsepower. Lesser trims get a turbo three-cylinder.
The interior is designed for muddy feet along the trail. Instead of carpet, floors are covered in rubber and can be hosed out by pulling drainage plugs. Too bad short bottom cushions make the front seats so uncomfortable.
Visibility is excellent in all directions, very important for trail driving. The eight-speed automatic is controlled with a rotary dial just like the Escape.
With front seats all the way back, row two legroom is tight although headroom is excellent.
There are some handy features on the cargo end of the Bronco Sport. You have a button to just open the glass on the hatch and a separate button to open the entire tailgate. The cargo area is covered in rubber to stop the load from sliding around. There’s a built-in bottle opener…. of course for your root beer.
The Bronco Sport is plenty quick and the short wheelbase makes it very nimble. Despite the off-road gear, highway cruising is quiet and well-controlled.
So for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport badlands 4×4, thumbs up to off-road ability, cool styling and mud-resistant interior. Thumbs down to uncomfortable front seats and poor gas mileage.
Dennis averaged about 24 miles-per-gallon in the Bronco Sport. The as-reviewed sticker price just over $36,000.