As we enter our fifth month of ownership of the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands (BSBL), we have now had a chance to settle in with the vehicle, have learned all its ins and outs, and expanded our knowledge of the vehicle. Here are some updates on what we’ve learned and how we have experienced the ownership of this great SUV.
Yes, the Ford Bronco Sport is Definitely an SUV
To us, “sport utility vehicle” is a description of a type of vehicle. In one focus story, we looked very closely at what an SUV truly is and whether the BSBL qualifies. It most certainly does. We also examined how the Bronco Sport line differs quite a lot from the Ford Escape crossover. We’ve used our Bronco Sport’s trailer hitch to haul E-bikes, used the cargo area to haul firewood, big items, and heavy items, and we’ve used the Bronco Sport in a sporty way as well, enjoying the Sport Mode in the mountains of New Hampshire.
Biggest Upgrade - Infotainment System
Our biggest modification to the Bronco Sport was adding wireless Android Auto. It took us two tries. The first product (dongle) we tried did not work properly. However, the second wireless Android Auto device works flawlessly. This has been a game changer for our enjoyment of the vehicle. We enter, drop our phone into the wireless charging tray, and the Android Auto system comes on automagically. Anyone still using cords should check out our focus story on wireless Android Auto to learn more about how we accomplished this.
Biggest Surprise - We Like Eco Mode
This is a vehicle test, so we are using all of the Bronco Sport’s features. One feature we were surprised to like is Eco Mode. The BSBL has a powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and is very responsive in Normal and Sport modes. However, it is also quite enjoyable in Eco Mode as well. Sure, it takes about ten minutes to adjust to the different vibe, but we have learned to enjoy this mode on some long, serene drives. It’s not for every occasion. However, the gas savings really surprised us. It was much higher than we would have guessed. You can check out the results in our focus story on Eco Mode.
Bronco Sport Community
I’m an admin or moderator at dozens of online vehicle-focused clubs and groups. I was fortunate enough to be welcomed as a moderator at the 2021+ Ford Bronco Sport Owners group on Facebook after having become a Top Contributor there. This group has a respectable 20,000 members, and it is well-run. In the group, I have learned that many owners struggle with quality problems. There is a water pump defect, a 12-V battery defect, a problem with some rear drive units, and the windshield is so upright that it attracts pits, chips, and cracks. Honestly, it is a struggle to keep the group positive there are so many quality complaint posts. Ford, take note.
In my four months of ownership, I have interacted with my local dealer, just a couple miles from my home, on a number of occasions. Every interaction has been very positive. Initially, I tried to buy my BSBL from my closest local dealer, but they were not able to get a Badlands for me. Still, the sales team was very supportive of me going to another dealer and even offered to help me with an introductory overview of the vehicle that I did not purchase from them!
Next, I obtained a state inspection sticker from the dealer. This was my first eye-opening experience about how Ford Pass works. When I arrived, the dealer looked me up, overviewed the powerful tools Ford Pass offers, and explained the value of my points. When I returned a second time, the dealer looked me up almost instantly and knew the miles of the vehicle and its complete status and history. Such a great tool.
My next interaction was business-related. I covered the dealer’s transition to being a Model E Elite Certified Ford dealership by adding significant EV infrastructure. I met the owner of the dealership, had a full tour of the dealership, and learned things I never would have as a typical customer. I was impressed by every aspect of the visit. You can read more about this dealership in our focus story.
Next up, I needed help obtaining DEF (diesel emission fluid) for a test vehicle. Although I have tested vehicles for eleven years, I had never had to add DEF until I tested a Ford F-250 Super Duty. Now, DEF is not rocket science, but having never used it before, I asked the dealer for help and information. The dealer’s service and parts team (who did not know me or that I was a media member) not only helped me with an overview of how it works, but they even got a special funnel and put it into the truck for me as a demonstration of how to do it properly. My already high opinion of the Ford dealership grew.
My last interaction was a bit odd. I felt as if my high beams may be improperly aimed, so I asked the dealer to check it out. Jumping to the end, I was imagining this problem. However, the dealer took the vehicle in, measured the pattern and other specs, and test-drove the vehicle at night. It was determined that it was my imagination, but I was never made to feel dumb for asking for help. As is the dealer’s policy, I was offered a ride to and from my nearby home. This is something no dealer has ever provided me, and I have owned ten different vehicle brands.
Attending an Off-Rodeo event is part of the Bronco Sport Badlands ownership experience. It is included in the vehicle's purchase price, and there is an Off-Rodeo park near my cabin in New Hampshire. I'm overdue for attending a session and plan to do so in the spring when my closest park re-opens. I'll admit to having some difficulty getting registered initially, but after connecting with the support team (thank you, Emily), I registered my vehicle, and I'm ready to go when the park transitions back to Off-Rodeo activity following the ski season. Watch for a full review of that adventure to come.
The Bronco Nation
Another aspect of the Bronco Sport community is TheBroncoNation.com. This is a website that pulls together the entire Bronco family in one place. There is news, product updates, and many forums. We are extremely pleased to report that our Torque News content has been republished at TheBroncoNation.com multiple times. This was done in an informal way. We discovered it by seeing the content there when we visited the site.
4-Month Update Summary
The Bronco Sport is proving to be fun to drive, but the ownership experience is even better. I have found a great community of fellow owners and an impressive local support network I didn't expect. So far, the Bronco Sport has exceeded my expectations in every possible way. With winter approaching, our plan is to provide some updates on winter testing shortly. Check back around the first of the year for our next update.
See our prior long-term test updates here.
Images of 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands by John Goreham.
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 follow John on Twitter, and connect with him at Linkedin.