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2023 Bronco Sport Badlands 1 Year Review - An Outstanding Ownership Experience

We update our long-term test of Ford's 2023 Bronco Sport Badlands following one year of ownership. The vehicle has been fantastic, but what has surprised us the most is the positive ownership experience.

One year ago, following a long search for a Ford Maverick during the inventory shortage, my wife and I opted to pivot and buy a fully loaded Bronco Sport Badlands. We don't regret the decision to opt for an SUV rather than a compact pickup.

Image of Ford Bronco Sport by John Goreham

As it turns out, the SUV cargo area has been a big part of our enjoyment of this great vehicle. In this installment of our long-term test, we will overview year one of ownership. You can check out our prior stories using the links below.

How The Bronco Sport Became the First-Ever New Ford In My Family
2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands Long-Term Test - Initial Likes and Dislikes
2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands Review 1,000-Mile Update  - Hello Torque Steer
2023 Bronco Sport Badlands Long-Term Test Update- Off-Pavement, Flooded Roads, Highway

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands Long-Term Test - Year One Conclusion
Rather than bury the good news at the bottom of the page, we’ll tell you up-front that the Bronco Sport Badlands has met or exceeded our expectations in every conceivable way. We had tested a First Edition, which is similar to the Badlands when the Bronco Sport was launched, and we knew what it was all about. Moving from a Subaru Forester with all-terrain Falken Wildpeak Trail tires, the Bronco Sport seemed like a great step up from what Subaru could offer. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.

The driving enjoyment of the Bronco Sport Badlands is paramount to our personal ownership experience. We love that it is peppy and fun on back-country roads, a decent highway cruiser, and most of all, that it can happily handle busted-up Massachusetts pavement and New Hampshire’s endless unpaved roads. The Badlands we purchased came with Falken’s outstanding Wildpeak A/T3W all-terrain tires with a severe snow-duty rating. The tires are ideal for this multi-role vehicle and have allowed us to handle winter without a set of dedicated winter tires.

Images of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.

We’ve been to the seashore (Hampton Beach), up mountains, including Pitcher and Pack Monadnock, and have logged 5,000 miles over a variety of surfaces in all types of weather. The Bronco Sport Badlands is a fun and even exciting vehicle to drive in all situations. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham

We’ve hauled large and heavy items, used the trailer hitch to haul bikes and e-bikes, and used the Bronco Sport as a winter getaway machine many times. The Bronco Sport has proven to us that it is a legitimate SUV.

2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - Costs
We didn’t receive any discount when we purchased the Bronco Sport Badlands. With its option packages, Ford Destination Charge plus the dealer’s $459 Documentation Fee, the total came to $45,474.00. This seemed steep to us at the time, but inflation was raging in America, and if we had waited, any other option would have cost more. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.

Part of buying a new Ford is the Ford Pass Points system. A Ford buyer is awarded enough points to equal about two service visits. We liked this. For us, that is a full two-year ownership cost since we drive this vehicle relatively few miles each year. 

Ford dealer coupon

Our first paid service visit was a $64.95 “The Works” oil change, tire rotation, and multi-point inspection performed by Acton Ford. We opted not to use up points since the cost was so minimal. My wife and I did cash in some points to have Acton Ford wax and detail her Toyota Venza. So, our year-one maintenance costs were under $65.

2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - Ownership Experience & Fantastic Ford Dealership Support
The biggest surprise of Bronco Sport ownership has been the outstanding support from the Ford dealership network. With limited inventory available (due to the now-resolved vehicle shortage), we were forced to buy our Bronco Sport Badlands from a dealer that was about an hour from our home and in an area we don’t normally travel. However, we live very close to Acton Ford in Massachusetts. Even though our local dealer could not get the trim and packages we wished to buy, they still reached out and offered to help us with any tutorials, service, or recall support, and we took them up on all three. 

Images of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.

The service department is outstanding. Our first interaction was a request to have the high beams checked for proper aim. Acton Ford offered rides back and forth to our home while the check was done, which impressed me. No dealer had ever offered me a ride before, and we’ve owned about seven different brands. The headlight aim was verified as within specs.

Our second interaction was during a media test of the F-250 diesel. We needed DEF (diesel emission fluid) and had never put it into a vehicle. Acton Ford had it in stock, and a service advisor took the time to show us how to get it into the truck without spilling a drop. They even recycled the container for us. Super helpful. Zero wait time. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.

Our third interaction was a recall to reprogram the vehicle’s computers. Acton Ford came to our home and did the recall right in the driveway. They even did a free multi-point inspection and added washer fluid. It took only 20 minutes, and the service tech was on time. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.

Our fourth interaction was the routine oil change and tire rotation. In this instance, I was driven home after dropping the vehicle, and then after it was done, the vehicle was delivered back to me. We are just blown away by how helpful Acton Ford has been. My wife and I have owned Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Honda, BMW, and Lexus vehicles over the past decade, and only Lexus came close to this level of service and convenience. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - Mileage
Our Bronco Sport Badlands has the up-powered 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. We love its low-end torque and its power throughout the rev band. It is hands-down one of the vehicle’s best features. However, in a world of hybrids and EVs, consumption is relatively high. The EPA rates this vehicle at 23 MPG Combined. However, that is laughably low. How EPA got it so wrong is a mystery, given how wildly high their EV mileage estimates can be. We’ve never seen any trips at that low MPG. Even in harsh winter conditions, we never dropped below 25 MPG. 

During our first 1,000 miles of operation, we carefully monitored our fuel economy using both the vehicle display and measuring fuel in vs. miles driven. They matched very closely, and our first 1,000 mile MPG came to 25.3 MPG. Our long-term MPG has been well above 26 MPG, and our mileage is at 27.1 over the last few fuel tanks. The vehicle’s fuel economy has steadily increased since new. We did a careful experiment to see how much of a difference ECO mode made, and recorded a 28.5 MPG result - in early winter.

Read Our ECO Mode Test Story

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - What’s Missing
When Ford updates the Bronco Sport, we hope that they will add a few things. We’d like to see wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play and a larger screen. We added wireless capability with an aftermarket product, but that should not be necessary. 

A Bronco Sport Raptor or some other more extreme trim makes sense, though we personally would not want more off-pavement capability. We would love to see a sporty on-road version with the 2.0-liter engine, no lift, and more pavement-oriented tires. We would buy that one.

Our Bronco Sport lacks the adaptive cruise control package. It’s the only package it lacks. However, we have not missed it one bit. The normal cruise control works well, and we don't spend a lot of time on the highway with the vehicle. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - One Thing Ford Needs to Fix
Ford needs to fix this vehicle’s front-wheel drive bias. One can observe that the Bronco Sport is barely ever using its rear wheels. The in-vehicle display clearly shows this. It’s also obvious and felt from the vehicle’s torque steer tendencies. By contrast, vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid are almost always using the rear wheels. Ford should address this. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - List of Our Favorite Things

  1. The EcoBoost engine and geared transmission
  2. Satisfying drive
  3. Full-size spare
  4. Armored cargo area and rubber floors
  5. Heated seats and steering wheel
  6. Falken Wildpeak A/T3W all-terrain, severe-winter-rated tires
  7. The perfect sunroof
  8. Styling inside and out
  9. Ford Pass App
  10. Dealer network

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - Tester Quotes

John Goreham - “I love how versatile this vehicle is. It is great on a paved back-country road on a warm summer day, and equally good in an ice storm on an unpaved path in the dead of winter. It’s the ultimate escape vehicle.”
Hande Tuncer - ‘My Venza could not be more opposite of this Bronco Sport, but I love to drive both. The Bronco Sport is playful and fun in a way my Venza is not. The Bronco Sport Badlands feels ready for anything, and it’s fun in all driving situations.”

2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - Closing Arguments After 1 Year and 5,000 Miles
Moving to the Ford brand has been a very positive experience. The dealer network has impressed us and makes living with this vehicle very easy. The Bronco Sport Badlands is a great getaway adventure vehicle, a great daily driver, and its efficiency is well above the EPA’s rating. We find it not just fun, but practical. We look forward to many more years with this great SUV.

2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands - Facts and Figures
Odometer Reading At Time of Report = 5,149 miles
MPG Average Over Last 3 Fillups = 27.1 MPG. 
Best Tank MPG (using ECO Mode) = 28.3 MPG
Maintenance Costs Since New  = $64.95 (Would have been free if we opted to use Ford Pass)
Recalls - 1. Completed at home in 20 minutes.
Breakdowns and Issues = 0
Cost New $45,474.00

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John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his eleven years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can connect with John on Linkedin and follow his work at our X channel. Please note that stories carrying John's by-line are never AI-generated, but he does employ Grammarly grammar and punctuation software when proofreading. 

Images of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.