2021 Ford Bronco Sport: It’s the Bronco Sport, people

A terrific little SUV

Photos courtesy of Ford

SAN DIEGO — I’m constantly amazed by people on the internet.

We’ve created the most glorious communications platform the world has ever seen, and people use it to argue — with factually inaccurate statements, to boot — about cars (and politics and sports and a million other things).

A few weeks back, I posted some videos of the new Ford Bronco on TikTok. Folks in the comments were furious. They wrote about how Ford had absolutely ruined the Bronco name by affixing it to such a wimpy vehicle and that they were so personally offended by it that they’d never buy another Ford product again.

Except they were talking about the Ford Bronco Sport, which is an entirely different vehicle from the Ford Bronco.

Now, Ford takes an awful lot of the blame for this confusion. In the view of Ford’s marketing department, naming one car the Bronco and another the Bronco Sport is a stroke of genius. Bronco is one of the best-known and most beloved nameplates of all time, and obviously, you’d want to milk this and have as many Broncos as possible.

Except the smaller Bronco Sport, based on the Ford Escape crossover and filled with much curvier design features than the old Bronco had, was released first — almost nine months before its bigger, badder brother.

The fact that only the baby Bronco was at Ford dealers made many people think that the compact and affordable Bronco Sport was the new Bronco. Quelle horreur!

The Ford Bronco Sport is an excellent little SUV (and I’ll be getting to that more in a minute), but it’s a far cry from the original Bronco. And, were it the only vehicle to have the Bronco name, I’d be surprised and disappointed. Except it isn’t.

There’s the Ford Bronco, which is a fantastic off-roader available in two- and four-door variants and is solid competition for the Jeep Wrangler.

Then there’s the Ford Bronco Sport, which competes with the Jeep Compass (and lots of other small SUVs) and will be popular with many folks who will probably never take it off the pavement.

Confusing the two, while understandable, does leave Ford with a bit of a mess on its hands. But at least people are aware of the thing; half the marketing battle won right there.

If you want to know more about the big boy Bronco, you’ll have to check my other review because this week I drove the baby Bronco and I absolutely loved it.

My review unit was an almost fully-loaded $37,940 Badlands edition, which has all kinds of off-road capable equipment like off-road tires and underbody bash plates. I drove one off-road last year at a Ford event and came away impressed with its off-road chops.

But after spending a week with one, I’m even more impressed by its on-road manners and how well-designed the truck is. It’s ridiculously practical.

The back of the front seats have zippered pockets that are large and padded enough to safely store a laptop, and there are a few rows of MOLLE loops — those are military-derived loops that can be used to hook carabiners and all manner of helpful gear.

One of the rear seats pops up to reveal a hidden storage compartment that would be perfect for a firearm if one were so inclined. Up front, there’s a convenient storage bin in the dash beneath the (large and lovely) infotainment screen that I used to hold my sunglasses.

Another bin below has a wireless phone charger, which is perfect because the Bronco Sport has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And there’s webbing on the side of the center console to hold maps or your phone or whatever else.

And while there are two cupholders in the center console, there are two more in each front door. This is a seriously road trip-friendly SUV.

The cargo area is spacious, and you can open just the tailgate glass if you want to grab something off the top without opening the entire liftgate. And, though the rear seats aren’t the biggest in the world, they’re plenty roomy for shorter drives, and the rear headroom and visibility are tremendous thanks to stadium-esque seating and a roof that rises up a bit.

I’m not going to argue whether the Bronco Sport is an affront to all Bronco-dom. That’s for fanboys on the internet to debate — but I will say that the Bronco Sport is a terrific little SUV, and if you’re in the market, it’s well worth a look.

Just be prepared to explain to people that it’s the Bronco Sport not the Bronco… or just drive off and don’t read the comments. That seems easier.

About Jordan Golson 184 Articles
Jordan Golson is North State Journal's automotive reporter. He covers cars - both foreign and domestic - from around the globe.