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  • The Ford Bronco Sport is the crossover stablemate to the new Bronco.
  • It has similarly boxy styling but is based on a car platform rather than the standard Bronco’s body-on-frame truck platform.
  • Reservations for the 2021 Bronco Sport are open now, and it will go on sale near the end of this year.

    If the new 2021 Ford Bronco is a direct shot at the Jeep Wrangler, then this Bronco Sport model is a clear analogue to Jeep’s soft-roaders including the Renegade and the Compass. This car-based small SUV aims to capitalize on some of the Bronco hype with its similar styling and off-road image, but it’s entirely different mechanically and in fact shares more with the Ford Escape crossover.

    The Bronco Sport’s powertrains, for one, are the same as the Escape’s. A turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque is standard, while a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 245 hp and 275 lb-ft is optional. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard across the board, with upper trim levels offering a more sophisticated AWD system with a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential.

    Size-wise, the Bronco Sport is smaller than the Escape, although larger than the diminutive EcoSport. At 172.7 inches long and with a 105.1-inch wheelbase, its footprint is similar to rivals including the Subaru Crosstrek and Jeep Compass. But the Bronco Sport’s tall, boxy body is more reminiscent of the Jeep Renegade, while its stepped-roof design reminds us of the Nissan Xterra. Its headlight and taillight designs are very similar to the standard Bronco’s, and available styling bits including tow hooks, steel wheels, and a wide range of accessories play up the off-road image.

    Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

    As on the standard 2021 Bronco, outdoorsy-themed trim levels include base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, and Badlands. The Badlands model is the equivalent of Jeep’s Trailhawk or Rubicon moniker, as it comes with off-road kit including all-terrain tires, the upgraded all-wheel-drive system, and unique suspension tuning with a 1.0-inch lift, softer springs, and reworked struts and shocks. There’s also a 2000-unit run of First Edition models that combine the Badlands package with special exterior and interior visuals; the Badlands and First Edition versions will be the only way to get the more powerful 2.0-liter engine.

    Ground clearance measures 7.8 inches for the base model and 8.8 inches for the Badlands. The Bronco Sport is rated to tow 2000 pounds with the 1.5-liter engine and 2200 pounds with the 2.0-liter engine. Standard models offer a choice of drive modes including Normal, Sport, Eco, Slippery, and Sand, while the Badlands trim adds Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes.

    Most versions come with cloth upholstery inside, and a rubberized floor is available for easier cleaning. Leather upholstery comes in the Outer Banks and First Edition trims. The rear glass opens separately for the tailgate, and there’s an available mount that secures two bikes in the cargo area with the rear seats folded. An 8.0-inch touchscreen utilizes Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system—curiously, not the newer Sync 4 system found in other models including the standard Bronco. Driver-assistance features including automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot warning are standard, while adaptive cruise control is optional.

    Pricing for the 2021 Bronco Sport starts at a high $28,155, which is thousands more than equivalent Compass and Crosstrek versions with an automatic-transmission and AWD. Ford is clearly hoping that the buying public is willing to pay extra for the cachet of a brand-new model.

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