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How The Bronco Sport Became the First-Ever New Ford In My Family

My family has long trended toward Asian-branded automobiles. Here’s how and why the 2023 Bronco Sport Badlands became the first Ford in my family in over fifty years.

A new 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands sits in my garage this week, and I have kicked off a long-term review of the vehicle. This is not a media vehicle, but one I purchased myself and for which I paid full price. Here is the story of why I opted to buy a Ford and why I chose the Bronco Sport Badlands.

Image of Ford Bronco Sport Badlands in woods by John GorehamRelated Story4 Ways the Ford Bronco Sport Is Amazing and 1 Thing Missing

A Quick History of My Family’s Car Purchases
I’m blessed to have three generations of family members alive and driving today, and all three of those generations are car owners. We own a Mazda, Honda, Acura, Genesis, and a Toyota, all of which were originally purchased new by some member of my extended clan. We also have a Chevy Prism (rebadged Toyota Corolla) purchased by a fourth-generation family member no longer with us. We are relatively brand loyal, having purchased mostly Toyotas, Subarus, Mazdas, and Hondas since the 1970s. Prior to that, all of our vehicles were GMs. We quit buying domestic brands after a long string of quality problems during the 1970s drove us to Toyota. My last few new cars were Lexus, Toyota, and Subaru models, with my wife opting for a Mazda and a BMW. We never considered a new Ford in over fifty years of car buying until now.

Why Ford?
I’m a member of the automotive media, and I review cars for two publications. I’ve been doing this for about 11 years. During most of that time, I enjoyed a media test vehicle most weeks. It’s a great gig, and I realize just how lucky I am. Over the past 11 years, no manufacturer has supported the New England Motor Press Association better than Ford. There are a few companies that do an equally great job, but Ford is among the most active supporters of the media. That means I have had the chance to drive a LOT of FORDS! With each new Ford model I tested, I became more and more impressed. The people Ford employs are equally impressive. I’ve met executives and PR people mostly, but also a chief designer and a few engineers along the way. In every case, they were the type of person any company would be lucky to employ. 

Ford’s drive toward aluminum was a big shift, and it made sense to me. In my 20s, I stepped through the rusted steel bed of a landscaping truck at work and got dinged up. I remember thinking how stupid it was to make truck beds out of a material that might rust. Ford’s move toward smaller displacement turbocharged engines - using regular unleaded fuel - was also a big shift, and I wondered why the industry took so long to do that. Finally, every Ford I drive has an intuitive, simple-to-operate infotainment system with great audio. I still don't understand why everyone doesn’t just copy Ford’s lead here. 

Concurrent with Ford’s shift to new technology, I have seen many automakers try to use constantly-variable transmissions in otherwise respectable vehicles. I understand CVTs in cheap entry-level economy vehicles, but in anything decent, I still think gears are better. Ford offers geared transmissions in most of its models. As a recovering engineer, my opinion is that Ford has been making smart moves. 

2023 Ford Bronco Sport off-roadWhy Bronco Sport Badlands? 
My wife and I are fortunate enough to have a cabin in the woods. It’s only about 90 minutes from Boston, but it has some pretty tough-to-handle dirt roads and steep hills not maintained by the town as one gets closer to the cabin. Ice and mud are real issues (or fun challenges), and I need a vehicle I can rely on to get me there and back in any weather. My prior car was a Subaru, and I have nothing bad to say about Subaru’s capabilities off-pavement. However, Subaru crossovers all come with the burden of a CVT and a weak engine. It was time for me to find something I enjoyed driving. 

Image of Ford Bronco Sport First Edition in snow by John Goreham

During a test of the Bronco Sport First Edition shortly after the Bronco Sport was launched, I found just what I was looking for. It seemed to be the ideal size for my needs. I drove that vehicle in extreme winter weather, and it impressed me. Equally important, it was great on paved back country roads and the highway as well. 

The Bronco Sport Badlands, like the First Edition, offers a turbocharged engine with class-leading torque and a great geared transmission. Speaking of “class,” it’s hard to find other vehicles like the Bronco Sport Badlands. The Jeep Compass Trailhawk comes to mind, and the Forester Wilderness, perhaps. I considered both when I shopped for my Bronco Sport Badlands. 

Truthfully, I should point out that I had my heart set on a top-trim Ford Maverick. One can configure a Maverick to be almost identical to the Bronco Sport Badlands, except the Maverick has a pickup bed. After years of looking, I could not find an in-stock Maverick without a $10K dealer markup. So, I gave up on the Maverick and grabbed the first Bronco Sport Badlands I could find selling at sticker price. 

The Bronco Sport Badlands offers the powertrain, AWD system, infotainment system, special tires, and driving pleasure I was looking for. The online community is also a great one. I enjoy belonging to online car clubs for the vehicles I own. 

Some Pleasent Ford Surprises
I cover topics like included maintenance closely for Torque News and knew that Ford doesn’t offer it. However, when I bought my Bronco Sport Badlands, the salesperson set me up with Ford Pass. Using points, I now have enough banked to cover the cost of the first two service intervals, by my estimation. I also like that the service intervals are 50% longer than the Subaru I had. It may be two years or more before I need to pay out of pocket for maintenance. 

Despite being frustrated by the markups and lack of inventory on the Maverick, I was treated very well by the multiple dealerships I worked with to find my Bronco Sport. I live about a mile from a Ford dealer, and the people there have been very helpful and welcoming, even though I bought my Bronco Sport Badlands from a different dealer. 

There is even a Ford dealer very close to my cabin, plus another that I pass on the way to and from it driving from Metro Boston. Although I hope I never need emergency service, it is great to know I am never far from help. 

Image of Ford logo by John GorehamA Ford Conquest Sale
In the auto industry, a new sale to an individual who has never before purchased from the brand is called a “conquest sale.” I am now officially a “conquest sale.” That is great for Ford for many reasons. It’s also great for me. I want to try various brands and products rather than be tied down to the first brand I started with. 

If you are interested in a long-term test of the Bronco Sport Badlands, you can check out our first and second installments at these links. Check back for more updates soon. 

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.

Images by John Goreham.


Mark Day (not verified)    August 9, 2023 - 6:16AM

Impressive - a new vehicle ongoing review that is NOT an EV, with its many disadvantages.
Hope some of the undesirable new vehicle annoyances can be turned off, such as auto stop-start, and others.