Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands
The Bronco is Back! 
One word sums up the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport - FUN! This is the crossover SUV everyone has been waiting for, delivering big off-road performance in a diminutive and very smart package. It's a welcome return of the Bronco badge that is available in the same affordability range as the Ford Escape or a Toyota RAV4. 

Make no mistake, the Bronco Sport is not the larger "Big Daddy" new Bronco that is returning to the Ford family later this year. On the outside, both will share design elements that recall the original Broncos of the 1960s. The full size Bronco will be built on a truck chassis, whereas the car-based Sport is built on Ford's C2 platform which it shares with the Ford Escape. 

This rugged new Bronco Sport is the smaller, more affordable crossover that's bursting with suburban appeal. It comes in seven trim levels including two-door and four-door configurations. There's even a soft top and removable hardtop version available. You can get anything from a bare-bones base model, to a well-equipped, upscale canyon king. For our Bronco breakdown, we decided on the smaller and sportier Bronco Sport in its top-of-the-line Badlands trim. It is named, by the way, after the other-worldly landscapes and eerie canyons of South Dakota's amazing Badlands National Park. 

The Look.

On the outside, the Badlands trim package is bad to the bone, including an aggressive front grill and recovery hooks located on the front bumper just below the fog lamps. The Bronco Sport shares about 80 percent of its mechanical components with the Ford Escape but this is not simply a Ford Escape with a boxier body. For one thing, the Bronco Sport has a shorter wheelbase at 173 inches long. 

 The Badlands trim package includes distinctive alloy wheels and Pirelli Scorpio A/T tires. Yes, the standard rear window glass opens separately from the liftgate, just like the Broncos of old. There is 29 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up and 60 cubic feet of space with those seats stowed away. Plus, you'll find a full size spare tire in the back, which is rare in a crossover SUV. 


There are also four cargo hooks back there to keep all your off-roading gear stowed nice and tight. It's a theme that is carried throughout the vehicle, with pouches, pockets and compartments at every turn. The rear seat backs even have cargo nets and zippered sleeves to store away personal items galore securely in the cabin. Rubberized floor liners and easy to clean upholstery allow you to revert the little Bronco back to everyday commuter status after your daring weekend of spelunking or canyon carving. 

Speaking of the highly functional interior, you'll find comfortable, high mounted, heated seats up front. The layout offers up precisely what you need with appropriate frills and the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system supports Ford's easy to use Sync 3 software as well as ApplePlay and Android Auto. It can be upgraded to SiriusXM satellite radio and a B&O audio system. There's a USB port under the stereo controls (4-in-total throughout the vehicle) and a circular rotary shifter dial on the consol. 

The Power

Under the hood of the Sport Badlands you'll discover a motor unlike the rest in the Bronco line. The 2-liter turbo, four-cylinder engine delivers 250 horsepower and 277 lb. ft. of torque married to an excellent 8 speed automatic transmission. Towing capacity is 2,205 pounds and the Badlands comes with standard all-wheel-drive, of course. EPA figures are 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway.  

The big news for you rock jumpers is that the Badlands has a unique AWD system replacing the standard rear axle with a torque vectoring unit that designates 100% of the rear wheel power to a single wheel in the back via a twin clutch unit. This allows the all-wheel-drive system to send power to the wheel or wheels that have the most grip. It can be used like a slip or locking differential to get you over those big boulders with relative ease.  

The Bronco Sport feels bigger on the inside than you'd think. It offers a lot of headroom both up front and in the back seat for when you are bouncing up and down on those off-road adventures. With that in 

Behind the Wheel.

Ford's C2 platform is known for its torsional rigidity, giving the Bronco Sport a very solid feel. We found that its Bilstein shocks work to minimize the impact of every plunge and jolt of craggy terrain. These shocks hold more oil and take longer to heat up than traditional shocks. The monotube dampers and exterior reservoirs allow for more extreme travel, improving damping in the roughest of ravines. The Badlands' 7.4 inches of wheel travel is the best in its class and the little Bronco boasts 8.8 inches of ground clearance. The result is that the Badlands laughs at steep and cratered hills, no matter if you are headed upwards or downwards, with sure-footed traction that reminds us of Spider-man clinging to any impossible surface. 

On the street, the ride is supple and cabin noise is minimal. This crafty crossover tracks along with great stability on both straight lines and in corners. We found the Bronco Sport a pleasure to drive, even if you never take it off road. But off road is where this stallion loves to run. It is not just capable in the sand or mud, it lives to get squirrely just as it longs to crack mountain roads, rocky trails and canyons. Suburbia, sand or summit, the little Bronco can do it all. 

Part G.O.A.T.

Just below the shifter dial, you'll find the G.O.A.T. drive modes rotary dial. This throwback to your dad's Bronco is rumored to mean Greatest Of All Time, but in fact, it stands for - Goes Over Any type of Terrain. Various driving modes include Sand, Slippery, Eco, Sport, Mud/Rut, Rock Crawl and Baja. Those drive programs alter the tuning of the throttle, transmission, brake response, steering effort, and the all-wheel-drive systems for the chosen conditions. 

Safety and driver assist features include standard automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. You'll also find standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, while adaptive cruise control is an optional extra.

Wrap it Up! 
This all-new for 2021 Bronco Sport Badlands may be the little brother to the mighty Bronco to come, but we find it to be big on the fun meter. It's a four-door, five-passenger crossover SUV that is an off-road-ready delight and a great alternative to Jeep's smaller models. Comfortable, practical, and way more capable off road than it needs to be, if you want a compact SUV that is good at pretty much everything, the Bronco Sport Badlands fits the bill.   

We think the Bronco Sport, especially the Badlands trim version, is going to be very popular. To find yours, visit your local Lithia Auto Dealer or check out what we have in stock here.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands 
MSRP starting at $32,820 
MPG: 21 city/26 highway 

3-year/36,000-mile basic 
5-year/60,000-mile powertrain