2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Edition: Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat Is it?
Last year Ford announced that the Bronco SUV would be returning to the lineup with a two-pronged approach: a smaller Bronco Sport now on sale and a larger Bronco scheduled to arrive later in 2021. Classic Bronco styling cues, a stepped-up roofline and upright body panels give the Bronco Sport a bolder look compared to many of today’s compact SUVs. The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport also offers improved off-road capability with the Badlands trim level.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceTest Vehicle
Ford provided us with a 2021 Bronco Sport First Edition finished in Cyber Orange Metallic with a starting base price of $38,500 plus $595 for the special paint color for a total of $39,095 not including destination charge of $1,495. Bronco Sport First Edition is based on the Badlands trim level and adds 17-inch Ebony Black painted aluminum wheels, a grille with BRONCO molded in black, Shadow Black decals, a black painted roof, 29-inch Falken Wild Peak all-terrain tires, Navy Pier leather front seats, an 8-way power driver’s seat, a 6-way power passenger seat, a power moonroof and a 10-speaker B&O Sound System.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceBronco Sport First Edition
The Bronco Sport First Edition is based on the Bronco Sport Badlands and includes upgrades to make it the most off-road-capable Bronco Sport trim level. Badlands equipment on Bronco Sport First Edition includes Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, an off-road-tuned suspension, Advanced 4 x 4 with a twin-clutch rear axle, Trail Control, a 180-degree camera up front, rubberized flooring and front tow hooks.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBronco Sport First Edition
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Edition also includes additional equipment from either the Bronco Sport Outer Banks or Badlands trim package to give the vehicle a unique combination of features. The First Edition features body-color door handles, dual-zone automatic temperature control, remote start, a reverse-sensing system, heated front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and a wireless charging pad.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceExterior Design
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport exterior design takes inspiration from the original Bronco SUV, and the rugged exterior design also echoes the new 2021 Bronco. Design attributes include the grille, round headlights, flat bodysides and short front and rear overhangs. Unpainted finishes add to the tough off-road look. The profile reveals a stepped-up roofline and standard roof rack.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
The 2021 Bronco Sport First Edition gets power from a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine producing 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm, combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission. For improved off-road capability over the other trim levels, Bronco Sport Badlands and First Edition feature an advanced 4-wheel-drive system incorporating a twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock that can transfer torque to either rear wheel depending on conditions. Also, Badlands and First Edition add uniquely tuned front struts, monotube rear shocks, softer springs and softer anti-roll bars for improved off-road performance.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceG.O.A.T. Modes
According to Ford, the original Bronco became known as G.O.A.T. because of its ability to “go over any type of terrain,” so Bronco Sport’s Terrain Management System features driver selectable drive setups named G.O.A.T. Modes to help both novice and expert drivers navigate difficult situations. Five modes are standard on all trim levels, although the Badlands / First Edition add Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for a total of seven choices: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceUnique Features
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport includes unique features such as a configurable cargo management system with a slideout work table, as well as a 400-watt inverter and liftgate LED floodlights to light the work area under the liftgate. A flip-up glass rear window allows access to the cargo area when the liftgate is closed. With the rear seat folded and an available dealer-installed Yakima interior bike rack, Bronco Sport can transport two mountain bikes standing up in its cargo area.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Edition features a digital instrument panel in addition to the center infotainment screen. The center console includes a rotary gear selector, cupholders and a wireless phone-charging tray. The lower seat cushions are a little short and thus lack much upper leg support, and there is no height adjustment at the front edge of the cushion to change seat angle. And when following other vehicles off-road in dusty conditions, the Bronco Sport’s climate control system would not stay in recirculation mode, instead switching back to outside air allowing dust to enter the cabin.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Thanks to the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, The Bronco Sport First Edition possesses plenty of power in Normal mode, and Sport mode makes the throttle much more responsive. On the road, the First Edition is not as smooth as other competitor compact SUVs — the all-terrain tires and off-road suspension convey their presence through to the cabin. But the focus of many compact crossovers is more car-like ride and handling, whereas the First Edition also offers significant off-road chops. Like every off-road vehicle, daily driving on the street will be different than driving a car.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOff-Road
We had the opportunity to drive the Bronco Sport First Edition off-road as well, mostly on sandy trails and gravel roads, where the all-terrain tires and dual-clutch rear axle are a real advantage, affording more grip on sand to provide a stable, positive stance. During our time in the First Edition we also employed Trail Control — essentially a low-speed cruise control that will climb or descend hills. The driver sets the speed (up to 10 mph) and then focuses on steering and the correct line through the terrain as the vehicle automatically adjusts braking and acceleration to maintain the selected speed.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Edition is an eye-catching SUV — especially in Cyber Orange — with classic Bronco design elements and a more traditional SUV look than most of the competition. The compact SUV segment remains extremely competitive, but the Bronco Sport offers a fresh, new look and the Badlands / First Edition off-road equipment delivers strong off-road capability when needed.

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