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Vehicle Launch Event

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer      

The grille says it all

Ford held a “socially-distanced” vehicle reveal for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, at its head office in Oakville, Ontario, on August 19, 2020. Pandemic protocols, including temperature testing, mandatory mask wearing and “stand here” stickers on the pavement inside the presentation tent, were adhered to.

The reveal was to highlight the impending release of the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, the first of a trio of Bronco-branded vehicles that will go on sale by the summer of 2021. Unlike the mainstream Bronco Sport, the upcoming Bronco Two-door and Four-door models are dedicated, off-road vehicles, in the spirit of the original 1966 Bronco and meant to compete with the Jeep Wrangler.

The Bronco Sport, based loosely on the platform that underpins the Escape, will be the volume model of the Bronto models. Ford notes that it is due late in 2020 or early 2021, but could be later as Ford launches seldom run smoothly.  


             

This Bronco-logo facemask is a sign of the times 

Ford displayed a first-generation Bronco, in this case, a 1976 model, at the Bronco Sport launch event

History
The original Bronco, a dedicated off-road vehicle with standard four-wheel drive, launched for the 1966 model year. It continued with minimal updates until 1978. Starting with the 1979 model year, several generations of F-Series pickup-based Broncos, were sold until the end of the 1996 model year. The Bronco attained its zenith of fame when O.J. Simpson, at the wheel of his own Bronco, made his well-publicised, slow-motion flight from the police in 1994.

Ford offered the Bronco II, a Ranger pickup-based SUV, from 1984 to 1990. The 2021 Bronco Sport has a similar footprint to the original Bronco and the Bronco II.

 

Shorter overhangs front and rear and a higher ride height ally to make the Bronco Sport more off-road-ready than the related Escape  

According to Ford, the new Bronco, though based on the Escape platform, represents a different architecture than its showroom mate. It is based on a slightly shorter wheelbase, is marginally taller and usefully narrower for the trail and in tight urban conditions. Shorter overhangs, permitting greater approach and departure angles, separate the Bronco from its Escape showroom mate.

Like a number of recent Fords, the Bronco Sport reflects some styling themes of its previous divisions, in this case, Land Rover. The stance, proportions and even the stepped “Safari” roof of the new Bronco Sport are all reminiscent of Land Rover styling cues. Nonetheless, this crossover looks very good.

Four trim levels, Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks and the serious off-road Badlands, will be available. Big Bend and Badlands are named after U.S. National parks, with Outer Banks referencing the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. The First Edition, employing the powertrain from the Badlands model, will be offered for a short time after launch.

The interior features crisp analogue gauges, straightforward minor controls and a deliberately “trucky” design. Cabin materials are attractive with some interesting finishes and numerous soft-touch surfaces. Legroom is class-competitive for a vehicle in this segment. Cargo space is narrow and lacks depth below the window line. Adjustable flood lights can be deployed from the open rear tailgate, and Ford notes that there will be more than 100 dealer-installed accessories available for the new vehicle. Ford expects Bronco Sport buyers to be equally split between men and women. Ford notes it doesn’t see any possible cross-shops for the Bronco Sport. 

The industrial-chic trunk surface looks great but cargo space is limited 

The 1.5L triple turbo and the 2L turbo four from the Escape will nestle under the hoods of the new Bronco Sport. The sole transmission planned is a conventional eight-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard on all models. Badlands buyers are treated to an enhanced all-wheel drive system with a twin-clutch rear drive unit and a locking rear differential that can direct power exclusively to one of the rear wheels. An enhanced drive system on the Badlands includes Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, Mud-Ruts and Rock Crawl, drive modes. Ford notes that the driver can set a speed for progress off road and that the vehicle can ford a creek up to two feet deep. The Badlands model is equipped with special front struts with hydraulic rebound stops and Badlands-specific rear shock absorbers.  

An informative info-banner for the new Bronco Sport 

 

Black "floating roof" conceals the large, triangular, unglazed panel behind the rear door 

The Ford Co-Pilot360 active safety system, with a forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, including pedestrians, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings and a lane keep assist system, is standard. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane centring and evasive steering assist, are optional.
 

Most owners will never explore the greater off-road potential of the Bronco Sport over its platform mate, the Escape, but they will be charmed by its rugged looks tidy size. Ford sees no potential customer conflict between its two compact crossovers, it will be interesting to see if they are right.