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2021 Ford Bronco Sport Achieves IIHS Top Safety Pick Rating

In its first year in production, the Bronco Sport lands Top Safety Pick+ rating from IIHS, which is the highest rating possible. Bronco Sport earned high ratings in all six areas of safety evaluation to qualify for the superior rating.

Sales for the Ford Bronco Sport have been brisk. That’s not surprising as there’s a vibrant, healthy market for off-road type of crossovers. Subaru and Jeep have made a fortune in this area, so when Ford announced they were entering that arena with a “baby Bronco” it made a lot of sense to me.

Today, Ford received some great news from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as the Bronco Sport has been recognized with their highest safety rating – Top Safety Pick +.

To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, the higher of the Institute’s two awards, vehicles must earn good ratings in all six IIHS crashworthiness evaluations, including the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. They must also be available with a front crash prevention system that earns advanced or superior ratings in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations, and good or acceptable headlights must be standard on all models, regardless of trim level.

You may recall, from a story my colleague John Goreham did on the Mustang Mach-E that it missed this higher rating because the Mach-E’s Select and California Route 1 trims have inferior headlights to the First Edition and GT trims, according to IIHS.

According to the IIHS report: “The Bronco Sport, which was introduced in 2021, hits all those marks. It earns good ratings in the six crashworthiness tests. Both the standard and optional front crash prevention systems earn superior ratings in the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. And the headlight system offered on all trims earns a good rating.”

John Goreham is our editor focusing on safety. He offered his thoughts on the Bronco Sport earning the TSP+, saying, "Ford clearly took the Bronco Sport's safety seriously. This is a family vehicle that earns America's highest rating in every single trim. A Bronco Sport buyer need not worry that safety is an option that costs extra."

Ford of course offered their thoughts on this accomplishment:
“As the Bronco of small SUVs, Bronco Sport was engineered to help our customers get out and adventure, both on- and off-road, and to do so safely,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product platform and operations officer. “This IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating validates that commitment.”

Related story: Bronco Sport makes big, bold entry ahead of bigger Bronco.

2021 Ford Bronco SportBuilt Wild and Built Safe
With this information from IIHS, it only gives more credibility to information Ford provided regarding how the Bronco Sport was tested in some of the harshest conditions.

Ford said, “For maximum off-road capability and long-term durability, Bronco Sport was tested in extreme conditions in places such as the Johnson Valley desert in California, as part of Built Wild Extreme Durability Testing.”

All models feature an independent front and rear suspension engineered and performance-tested in demanding environments across North America. The suspension is optimized to help drivers confidently maintain vehicle composure while aggressively taking on rugged terrain.

In my official review, I noted disappointment that the Bronco Sport did not get Ford’s superior Sync 4 system. Although the Sync 3 system is good, a new vehicle like the Bronco Sport should have received the latest infotainment system. This was not an area that IIHS considered in their testing, obviously.

Through Sync 3, there are some other safety features for the Bronco Sport including Ford Co-Pilot360 which features many advanced driver-assist features like Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking featuring Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, Auto High Beam Headlamps and a rearview camera.

The IIHS award is the latest of many honors and accolades earned by the all-new Bronco Sport, including Popular Science’s Best of What’s New 2020 and Esquire magazine’s Best Compact/Midsize SUV.

Related story: Ford partners with travel-oriented app Mappo for integration in Bronco Sport.

Bronco Sport and Bronco differencesThe Bronco Sport is different from the Two-Door and Four-Door Bronco
It’s amazing that I have to even state this, but there’s so much confusion about the Bronco Sport. Out now is the Bronco Sport, and coming out soon is the two-door and four-door bigger Bronco, the one that is a Ford legend. Many people think the Bronco Sport is the one and only Bronco. I even shared the above image on my Instagram to help behind decipher and understand the very clear difference.

It shows that nobody is really paying attention as the iconic two-door and four-door Bronco is coming later this year. Ford has only been teasing the return of the iconic off-road Bronco for a decade now. By launching the Baby Bronco first they may have played the wrong hand, or maybe it helped push the sales further for the Bronco Sport, which is quite capable off the road and features GOAT mode (Go Over Any Terrain).

Ford Bronco Sport GOAT mode

Just a reminder we have a dedicated Bronco page here at Torque News and will be covering everything related to the big Bronco later this summer, as they start to hit the car lots.

Related story: Bronco-dedicated dealers to open throughout the United States.

I want to hear from you. How important are safety ratings to you? Do you pay attention to IIHS reports? Leave me your comments below.

Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.