A trio of new Ford SUVs is being launched to tap into the emotional appeal of true off-road, go-anywhere capability. More specifically, Ford’s new Bronco line is a full-frontal assault on one brand: Jeep.
The first two models are reincarnations of the original Ford Bronco SUV from the 1960s. The pair of all-new 2021 Ford Bronco models are Ford Ranger mid-size truck-based off-roaders, aimed directly at the 2-door Jeep Wrangler and 4-door Wrangler Unlimited.
The third all-new member of the Bronco family is the Ford Bronco Sport. While the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport shares some platform components with the Ford Escape, the body, interior, and off-road capability are all unique, and the Sport is smaller than the Escape. Consider the Bronco Sport as a rugged subcompact SUV built for an outdoor adventure lifestyle and the Escape as the larger family transport vehicle for around town.
2021 Ford Bronco
After years of anticipation, the 2021 Ford Bronco is here. Introducing a vehicle with a name as iconic as Bronco could have been risky, as there is a lot of nostalgia attached to it. Yet from our first impressions, the new Bronco has exceeded expectations. The Ford Bronco returns as a 2-door model and a first-ever 4-door, with the power, tough off-road gear, and styling that will excite Bronco fans while encouraging new buyers to take a look.
The Bronco's apples-to-apples competitor is the Jeep Wrangler, which is also an off-road specialist offered in 2- and 4-door models with a soft top and removable doors. The Toyota 4Runner is another model to consider if you want a 4-door off-road-capable SUV. You can also include the Land Rover Defender in the conversation, but it's significantly more expensive.
For those that may be concerned that the new Bronco is “all hat, no cattle,” this SUV is based on a fully boxed truck platform and is available with two highly capable 4-wheel-drive systems. Technology such as a Terrain Management System, Trail Control, Trail Turn Assist, and Trail One-Pedal Drive will make off-roading easier and safer. This Ford can tow up to 3,500 pounds (1,588 kilograms). And the Bronco will come with a choice of two turbocharged EcoBoost engines, including a version of the excellent 2.7-litre 6-cylinder that’s in the F-150 full-size pickup truck and the 2.3-litre 4-cylinder from the Ranger.
2021 Ford Bronco Interior
The interior of the Bronco is simple, with bold lines and easy-to-reach physical buttons and controls. The four critical buttons for off-road endeavours, such as the differential lock and traction control, are rubberized and placed at the top of the dash. You can get an 8- or 12-inch (20- or 30-centimetre) navigation touchscreen. There are wireless smartphone charging and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. Choose from leather seats and easy-to-clean vinyl seats.
There’s also a clever mounting bar along the top of the dash for smartphones and cameras. Colour schemes include warm earth tones, as well as pale gray and black. The floor is rubberized and is available with drain plugs, making it easier to wash out dirt and mud. The cargo area has a slide-out tailgate and a side opening door, and there’s a bottle opener integrated into the rear of the vehicle.
2021 Ford Bronco Exterior
One interesting thing to note is that you won’t find the Ford blue oval on the Bronco. The styling pays tribute to the classic 1966-77 Bronco, so round headlights are encased in a single-piece rectangular grille.
The 2-door Bronco comes with a modular hard top – there’s no convertible available with the 2-door. If you want that, you can choose a soft top or modular hardtop on the 4-door. You can easily remove the pieces of the hardtop, and the soft top is also removable. The doors, which are made of aluminum, come with quick releases that make it easy to take them off, and the side mirrors stay on the body. With the 4-door, there’s room to stow the doors on board. The Bronco’s vertical taillight design resembles the classic Bronco’s.
The new 2-door Bronco is significantly longer than the original but is still shorter than the larger Bronco from the 1980s and 1990s.
2021 Ford Bronco Standard Features
The 2021 Ford Bronco comes standard with a 2.3-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, a version of the same engine that’s in the Ford Ranger. Ford anticipates this engine will net 270 horsepower. Behind that engine is a 7-speed manual—six speeds plus a crawler gear. The base 2-door comes standard with a modular hardtop, where you can remove some or all of the pieces. Four-wheel drive comes standard on the Bronco, with a 2-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly system. The base Bronco has 16-inch steel wheels with 30-inch all-season tires. The Bronco has at least 8.3 inches (21 centimetres) of ground clearance, which goes up to 11.6 (30-cm) with 35-inch tires.
What will the 2021 Ford Bronco cost?
While Ford hasn’t announced Canadian-market pricing yet, it says that the Bronco 2-door will start at USD $29,995, and the Bronco 4-door will start at USD $34,995. You can currently reserve a 2- or 4-door 2021 Bronco with a USD 100 deposit. We expect it to arrive at dealerships in the spring of 2021.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is the third model in Ford’s Bronco family of SUVs. Unlike the Bronco 2- and 4-door, which are based on a truck platform, the Bronco Sport is based on the Ford Escape compact SUV platform. This vehicle is smaller than the Escape and larger than the EcoSport, putting the Bronco Sport in the large sub-compact SUV category. While some larger sub-compact SUVs skew toward city life and errand-running, Ford says the Bronco Sport is designed for adventure. It has trail-tested off-road capability, up to 8.8 inches (22 centimetres) of ground clearance, a purpose-built interior, and a terrain-management system that makes it easy to navigate a variety of surfaces. We expect the Bronco Sport to compete with vehicles like the Jeep Compass, Kia Seltos and Subaru Crosstrek.
Although the Bronco Sport has been designed with a lot of the 2021 Ford Bronco’s DNA, the Sport is not as hardcore an off-roader as the Bronco. Even if you aren’t looking to go rock-crawling, but like to camp, go biking, or enjoy the great outdoors, you will find a lot to like about the Bronco Sport. You can get an engine with an (estimated) 245 horsepower, and an 8-speed automatic transmission comes standard. The cargo area was designed to hold two upright mountain bikes. There are clever interior storage solutions that would come in handy in the city or on the weekend in the woods. And the 2021 Bronco Sport comes standard with impressive safety features, including Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced safety.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Interior
According to Ford, the Bronco Sport’s upright body style allows the interior to be large and accommodating for this vehicle’s size. Doing this creates more headroom for taller passengers and enough space in the cargo area to carry to mountain bikes sitting upright. The interior is a simple, clean layout that uses large, easy-to-reach physical buttons and knobs. In the instrument cluster, there is a digital display between the two main gauges. There’s a touchscreen near the top of the dash, with all infotainment and climate controls below. The interior we saw uses gray and black on the dash and seats, and orange and brown accents on the dash and doors.
The seats in the model we saw are a muted brown with the Bronco logo embroidered into the top of each seat, below the headrest. There are black inserts in the top and bottom seat cushions. On the back of both front seats, there’s a MOLLE (modular lightweight load-carrying equipment) strap system that can be used with access bags, or anything that can be attached with carabiners. Above that is a zip-up storage pocket. And there’s extra storage under the bottom cushion of the rear seat.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Exterior
The front of the 2021 Bronco Sport strongly resembles the larger Ford Bronco design, with a single-piece grille and round headlights that pay tribute to the 1966-1977 Bronco—and no Ford blue oval logo. The Bronco Sport will have a contrast-colour roof and roof-mounted rack. There will be key details that differentiate the trim levels, such as the Outer Banks model, with body-colour door handles, a black grille with “Bronco” in white, and painted black wheels. The Badlands is the most capable trim level of this SUV, and it looks the part. It sits higher, with wide tires and a confident stance.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Standard Features
The base Bronco Sport is powered by a 181-horsepower (estimated) 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, with an 8-speed automatic transmission. All Bronco Sports come standard all-wheel drive, plus 17-inch wheels and L.E.D. headlights. The Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced safety features is also standard. It includes blind-spot information with cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, automatic high beams, and pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. Adding the Co-Pilot360 Assist+ adds adaptive cruise control and more. Sync3 operated through an 8-inch (20-centimetre) touchscreen comes with every Bronco Sport, as does the Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Terrain) Modes.
How Much Does the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Cost?
Like the other members of the new 2021 Bronco family, Ford hasn’t announced Canadian pricing for the Bronco Sport. Still, its USD $28,155 starting price is significantly higher than that of competitors like the Jeep Compass and Subaru Crosstrek, both of which start at about USD $25,000 when equipped with a comparable transmission and all-wheel-drive.