2021 Ford Bronco Sport Winter Snow Testing - The Verdict
The all-new Ford Bronco Sport is a more rugged compact crossover SUV than nearly every other vehicle in its segment. Available content includes recovery hooks, bash panels, skidplates, and a wide array of all-wheel drive technology. We drove the new Bronco Sport straight into the teeth of a raging nor'easter storm in New England to see how this new vehicle handles the worst conditions possible. Here’s what we found.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Winter Testing - Tires
If you test vehicles in snow for a few years you learn that even the best all-wheel drive systems do very little to help you turn and nothing to help you stop. By contrast, tires matter all the time. And a good winter compound with the right tread design can turn any vehicle into a decent snowmobile. Ford’s genius with regard to snow capability is to simply pick the right rubber.
Our First Edition Bronco Sport came with Falken Wildpeak A/T tires. These are all-weather, and all-terrain rated tires which do display the three-peak mountain snowflake. While that symbol is far from the last word on a tire’s winter capability, we found the Bronco Sport’s tires were superb in deep, wet snow.
Even better, they are rugged, and come with a meaty sidewall. Perfect for slamming into fresh potholes created by plows and for hitting frozen ice chunks.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Winter Testing - All-Wheel Drive Capability
The Bronco Sport has a wide array of GOAT modes aka “goes over any terrain.” We selected Slippery mode. It is no overstatement to say the Bronco Sport exhibited the best AWD system in snow this tester has driven. And my daily driver is a Subaru Forester with winter tires.
In addition to the Slippery mode, one can select rear differential lock. Do so, and you can do power-on oversteer slides all day long in the snow. The AWD lock button seemed to help us when starting, but it was hard to tell. The Bronco Sport’s system is so good, better wasn’t really noticeable.
In deep unplowed snow between 12" and 18", the Bronco Sport glides silently over the road. The most impressive part of its abilities in our testing was turning. On a downhill right turn, we expected the Bronco Sport to slide to the left and drift across its lane. Instead, it held the line perfectly. This is due in large part to its tires, but also the independent suspension.
Stopping was also impressive. The three-peak mountain snowflake test does not include any braking tests. One never really knows how well a winter tire will stop. The Falkens did a great job. The ABS of the Bronco Sport is also smart enough to allow for a bit of wheel lock. In combination, we found the vehicle’s stops to be predictable.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Winter Testing -Plowed-in Driveways and Snow Banks
One reality in our area is that storms often hit at night when the snow is warm and heavy with water. The temps then drop, and the plowed-up snow at the end of your driveway is a real bear to drive through. However, the Bronco Sport addresses this in ways.
First, the Bronco Sport has almost nine inches of ground clearance. That is a good start, and one reason Subarus are so capable in the deep stuff. Next, Ford offers a steep approach angle. That gives the tires a chance to engage before the snow is pushing on the lower fascia. You can sort of climb up over the snowbank. Next, the Bronco Sport has bash plates underneath that help protect critical systems from damage. Ice can be as hard as stone in New England. Protecting the expensive bits is always welcome. Last, Ford doesn’t put large, delicate driving lights (foglights) down low where they will be impacted by snow. Instead, they are up high, small, and sturdy.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Winter Testing - Interior Comfort
The Ford Bronco Sport First Edition comes equipped with heated seats and a heated steering wheel. Pair this with rubberized floor mats and cargo mats and the usual checklist is satisfied. This is a vehicle that Ford built for those of us who live in the cold snowy parts of the world.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Winter Testing - Conclusion
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Edition comes ready to tackle the harshes winter weather. Winter-rated tires? Check. Three-level AWD system? Check. Smart chassis design? Check. Interior comfort and convenience for wet winter weather? Check. The Bronco checks every box, but there is more. The Bronco Sport is fun! Like those of us who have owned for Subarus in the past, Bronco Sport owners are going to look forward to wicked weather instead of dreading it. We would recommend anyone who is looking for an unbeatable compact SUV to take on winter check out the Bronco Sport First Edition.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. In addition to testing hundreds of vehicles in winter conditions on-road and on private tracks, Goreham is a graduate of the Team O'Neil Winter Safe Driving School. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin