The all-new Bronco Sport is brimming with outdoorsy character, but it also has easy-to-use controls, a roomy cabin among the small SUV class, and decent handling agility. Although the standard engine produces some vibrations at low revs, the ride is firm, and the driver’s seat is short on adjustments, overall we found the Bronco Sport a fun vehicle that’s pretty easy to live with.
Like the Escape it’s based on, the Bronco Sport comes with a three-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This 181-horsepower mill produces a healthy dose of midrange punch, which means the engine rarely needs to be pushed hard. That’s good, because the engine runs out of steam at higher revs. The transmission shifts smoothly most of the time, however we found ourselves at times dabbing harder on the gas pedal just to get a quick downshift to avoid the annoying vibrations the engine makes when it’s lugging along at 1,500 rpm. We got 25 mpg overall in our tested Outer Banks trim, which is a few mpg below the class standouts.
Only high-end versions of the Bronco Sport get a much more refined 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out an invigorating 245 hp. Regardless of the engine choice, all Bronco Sports come with four-wheel drive. Although its styling (and Ford’s marketing) might indicate otherwise, the Bronco Sport is not a true off-road-capable model. It’s a car-based SUV sprinkled with styling elements that shout “adventure.” As such, it’s adept on pavement, showing fairly nimble abilities on curvy roads. It was also stable through our avoidance maneuver—which simulates swerving quickly to avoid a vehicle or obstacle on the road—but it didn’t turn as sharply as we’d like; the front tires slid more than expected as our testers tried to keep the little SUV within our tight, coned-off course.