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4 Ways the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Is Amazing and 1 Thing Missing

We have tested the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Edition and are amazed at the content Ford has included. Four things, in particular, impress us. Only one important thing is missing - so far.

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The all-new 2021 Ford Bronco is a compact SUV that leads its class in size, off-road ability, and attitude. Ford has just negated all claim Subaru and the RAV4 Adventure had to off-road supremacy in the segment. More importantly, the Bronco Sport remains a great daily driver. Here are the four things that Ford did to make this vehicle leap ahead of the class and one way it needs to catch up quickly.

Ford chose the ideal tires for the Bronco Sport. Top trims have a meaty sidewall that offers more than twice the rim to ground clearance than most crossovers in its class. This offers shock-absorption capability and makes the tire more resistant to damage.

Related Story: 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Winter Snow Testing - The Verdict

Almost every other crossover SUV in this segment is made worse by low-profile tires. This is due to an effort by most automakers to win over buyers based on looks and a short test drive within a few miles of the dealership’s lot. Low profile tires are more susceptible to damage from potholes and other on-road imperfections and they are a negative anytime the pavement ends.

Ford also made the choice to fit all-weather tires to the Bronco Sport First Edition. Complete with the three-peak mountain snowflake, the 29-inch all-terrain Falken Wildpeak A/T tires are truly all-purpose tires that offer a great balance of winter capability, off-road ability, and good on-road habits.

Related Story: Is the All-New 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Big Enough? We Give A Firm Answer

Spare Tire
Why would anyone purchase an SUV of any type without a spare tire? The “U” stands for utility. What is the plan if one gets a flat beyond where the pavement ends? On a long holiday weekend far from home? Or when towing? The truth is, there is no plan. Vehicles like the Hyundai Kona Ultimate and Honda CR-V Hybrid have no spare tire.

Ford Bronco Sport image by John Goreham

By contrast, Ford offers a full-size spare in its top two trims and a compact spare in the two others. Ford told us that every trim has an option for a full-size spare. Our First Edition’s spare was on a steel rim and would enable a Bronco Sport driver to continue their adventure or drive to work and deal with the flat tire at their convenience, or when stores re-open. There is no reasonable excuse for removing a spare tire from a vehicle. Almost every trim of all the top-selling vehicles in America has one. Ford offers the best option in this regard.

Space and Interior Comfort
Low-sloping rear rooflines may look great in images, but in the real world, they eliminate rear passenger headroom and cargo space. The Ford Bronco Sport’s design is a cube. We love the look, and it enables its owner to pack more gear and gives rear passengers ample headroom.

But Ford’s smart packaging does not end there. Ford kept its center console and dash area narrow so that taller drivers will have added knee room. Unlike many of the compact crossovers on the market, it feels like Ford designed its cabin to accommodate a full-sized human of over six feet in height and over 200 pounds in weight. We often feel as if the other compact crossovers were for those of shorter stature, or not fully grown.

Despite the narrow center console, a full-sized storage cubby under the center armrest, a pair of cupholders perfectly positioned, and a big, ideally-designed space for a pair of mobile devices (phones) is included. Ford kept the exterior of the Bronco Sport compact, but made the inside feel huge.

Off-Road Capability
The list of off-road and snowy conditions special equipment the Bronco Sport offers seems endless. Ford employs its excellent Terrain Management System-7 in the Bronco Sport, aka “GOAT” goes over any terrain modes. The modes one can select include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand; Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl. We used Slippery in a Nor’Easter storm that brought 18-inches of heavy wet snow and were astounded by how capable this vehicle is in the white stuff. Ford’s Trail Control and twin-clutch rear drive unit with differential lock capability are really above and beyond all but a few vehicles in this class.

What’s more important is the systems are simple to operate. There is no low-range transfer case to be shifting or any other such 4x4 gear from old trucks and body on frame SUVs. That stuff is strictly for folks who want to go find a way to get stuck. If you want to enjoy some trails or get to work in a blizzard, the kit Ford installs in the Bronco is ideal.

We do quite a bit of soft-roading in New England on logging trails and unimproved roads. The only real risk is that we will poke a rock through the oil pan of our crossover or another critical component. Ford’s four steel bash plates help to negate that risk. Ford’s Trail Crawl would be ideal for steep slippery slopes, and it even works in reverse. With the ability to handle about two feet of water, a ground clearance of up to almost nine inches, and generous approach and departure angles, the Bronco Sport is one of the most capable compact SUVs ever built.

Here’s What’s Missing - A Green Vehicle Powertrain
We are fans of Ford’s EcoBoost engines, but as our time with the amazing Mustang Mach-E proved this past week, gas-only powertrains are about to go extinct. Our First Edition had the up-powered 2.0-liter turbocharged engine from Ford’s long list of great boosted engines.

However, its fuel economy is unacceptable. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid offers 40 MPG with the same or better acceleration. The Honda CR-V Hybrid is a close second. However, the real leader in this segment is the RAV4 Prime with over 300 hp, amazing real-world torque, a much after acceleration time than the Bronco Sport, and 94 MPGe. Ford needs a green powertrain option for the Bronco Sport.

The great news is that Ford already has one. Sort of. The Ford Escape, which shares a lot of DNA with the Bronco Sport, is already designed to use Ford’s plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) powertrain. We hope that Ford will bring that powertrain option to the Bronco Sport once it is ready for prime time.

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is a vehicle that brings amazing capability to a segment that has a lot of posers. If you want a crossover SUV that offers true off-road capability, amazing winter ability, and is a blast to drive in all types of driving, check out the new Bronco Sport line.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. 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
Story Note: Torque News will be highlighting the Ford bronco Sport with multiple writers doing coverage. Check back often for more Bronco Sport content here.

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