First Drive: Adventure-Ready 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Is Brimming With Personality

A new, extroverted small SUV stands out with a rugged vibe

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands Consumer Reports

Ford is blazing the trail for the return of the Bronco nameplate with the compact Bronco Sport. This all-new entry to the brand’s expanding SUV lineup squeezes in between the Escape and Edge, bringing an extroverted, adventure-ready personality and trail-friendly dimensions. It will be joined this summer by the midsized Bronco two- and four-door, which will be positioned as a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler.

Update: Since this first drive was originally published in February, 2021, we finished testing the Ford Bronco Sport.

Read the complete Ford Bronco Sport road test.

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Sharing common underpinnings and powertrains with the Escape, the Bronco Sport is actually a car-based SUV that is styled like an off-roader. It's almost like a descendant from the original Escape, before the once-boxy model evolved into a tall iteration of the Focus.

Along with the heritage-themed moniker comes a series of trim names that sound born from a guide to the National Parks. We recently experienced a Bronco Sport Badlands, the most off-road-oriented trim with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, that we rented from Ford. Shortly after, we bought our own Bronco Sport Outer Banks, a more urbane version with a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine. Between the two examples, we’ve been able to sample much of what this new model has to offer.

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, our initial expert assessment of the Bronco Sport is already available to you below. If you haven’t signed up to become a member yet, click below to access this full article and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and home appliances.

We have put our Bronco Sport through more than 50 tests at the CR Auto Test Center, including those that evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, car-seat fit, and controls. CR members have access to the full road-test results.

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What we rented: 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands
Powertrain: 250-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive
MSRP: $32,820
Options: Cyber Orange paint ($595), 17-inch Carbonized gray-painted wheels ($795), Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ ($795)
Total options: $2,185
Destination fee: $1,495
Total cost: $36,500

What we bought: 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks
Powertrain: 181-hp, 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive
MSRP: $32,160
Options: None
Destination fee: $1,495
Total cost: $33,655

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