By on December 7, 2020

 

My first car was a hand-me-down 1984 Ford Bronco II that my parents bought new. I took possession of it as a hot-to-trot teenager in 1997, happy to finally be a licensed driver and glad I was lucky enough that my parents could gift me a car, even if it was over a decade old and even if my end of the bargain was to get a job bagging groceries to pay for insurance and maintenance.

Many teens, even in the relatively well-off suburb I grew up in, don’t get a car when they reach driving age. I had friends from families who were wealthier than mine who ended up hitching rides, as they didn’t have their own wheels. So I knew I was lucky to have a vehicle to call my own.

But man, I hated that thing. Sorry mom and dad, if you’re reading this, but nothing I’m about to say I haven’t told you/you don’t know about already.

I hated my Bronco mostly because it ran terribly. It needed to be warmed up for a long time, especially on cold days, or it would stall the minute it was put into reverse or drive. My parents would start it when they left for work, which was before I got up for school, and when I’d get in and select reverse, it would conk out.

I often had to two-foot drive it. I’d left-foot brake while using my right foot to goose the gas. Like an Indy driver keeping his car from stalling during a pit stop.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

There were other things about it that annoyed me, things that I now see were cynical marketing plays by Ford or just poor design. It was an Eddie Bauer edition – tan on green if you must know – and it had terribly obvious fake wood on the dash. And despite the Eddie Bauer name, no cassette player. AM/FM only. The horn was located on the turn-signal stalk. The passenger seat did not slide fore and aft – it was locked in one spot so it could release via spring to allow rear-seat passengers access to the back seat. The hubs were manual locking – you had to get out and lock them before engaging four-wheel drive.

Oh, and it was tippy as hell. Taking a turn too fast gave you a bad feeling that you’d rollover. I never did put it wrong-side up, thankfully, but man was it top-heavy.

Finally, it was slower than the line at the DMV on a day ending in “Y” – in a year and a half or so of ownership, I never drove it on the expressway. I was afraid it wouldn’t achieve a speed faster than 55 mph.

It wasn’t all bad – the turning circle was awesome and the Bronco II did look kind of cool. Especially when the colors were the inverse of mine – green on tan. On the rare occasion that I see a Bronco Deuce that hasn’t fallen victim to rust over the years, I do feel a slight pang of nostalgia. Perhaps if mine had run right – at some point, it did, but for whatever reason, the engine became cantankerous over the years – I’d feel differently about the idea of a baby Bronco.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

The reason why you’re getting about 500 words on personal history in what is supposed to be a new-car review isn’t that it’s storytime. It’s because I know from hard experience that the Bronco II, which existed to give Ford a compact sibling to the more-famous full-size Bronco (“you know who I am, goddamnit!”) wasn’t nearly as desirable as its big brother. It was capitalizing on the name, but not quite worthy of the moniker.

Enter the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Sharing a platform with the Escape, the Sport is supposed to fulfill the niche the Bronco II once was supposed to – a compact SUV with off-road capability that will mostly see on-road duty on the streets of suburbia. One that uses the Bronco name to evoke off-road adventure.

Here’s the difference (other than the door count, which is now four) – this Bronco is one I’d want to own. Ford didn’t just slap the Bronco name on a boxy, taller Escape and call it a day. There’s real effort put into this thing, and while it has some flaws, it comes out of the box class-competitive with the vehicles Ford claims it’s targeting (Jeep Cherokee and Compass). It’s better than Chevy’s new Trailblazer (which I also dig, and which isn’t really meant to do gnarly off-roading), and will present an interesting alternative to the Toyota RAV4.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

Yes, I get that the comparison between the two-door Bronco II of old and the thoroughly modern Bronco Sport is thin at best. All they really have in common is that they’re compact SUVs with off-road ability and the Bronco name. Yet it will be hard for folks of a certain age to not make the connection.

(Full disclosure: Ford put me in a hotel outside of Detroit and paid for my lunch at the event, and sent me home with a scarf and coffee beans. No flight, as Detroit is drivable for me. All COVID protocols, including masks and social distancing, were observed. Also, I traveled to the event well before COVID case spikes led to tighter travel restrictions – there was a LONG embargo time on this one.)

To recap – the Bronco Sport offers two engines – a 1.5-liter three-cylinder (181 horsepower, 190 lb-ft of torque) and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder (250/277) – and several trim levels: Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition. Only 2,000 First Editions will be built.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

Four-wheel-drive is standard, and both engines use an eight-speed automatic transmission. Badlands and First Edition trims have a different 4×4 system – the PTU is liquid-cooled instead of air-cooled, the rear-drive unit is twin-clutch instead of single, and there’s a differential lock feature. Those two trims also gain paddle shifters for the automatic trans, and both are the only two available with the 2.0-liter engine.

I may have screwed up – I initially walked over to an Outer Banks to drive for the on-road portion of the event, but I changed my mind and hopped into a Badlands instead. I later found that the Ford believes the Outer Banks or Big Bend will be the volume trim, not the higher-power/more off-road-oriented Badlands.

No matter. The Badlands, which will be the top trim once the First Edition is no more, adds a cylinder and that power is appreciated, although one needs to dig a bit into the throttle to really find it. Furthermore, the throttle is a tad laggy, as I found when I tried to kick the spurs to get a bit of a slide on some gravel roads and on a sand autocross that Ford setup. You may need to light-switch it if you need power in a hurry.

For instance, the Sport struggled a bit to get going with urgency from a stoplight while traveling uphill, but later on my drive, I was able to summon enough punch while cruising to execute a tricky pass. Peak torque is available at 3,000 rpm.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

Ride and handling wise, the Sport shines better. I’ve given the Escape praise for being fun-to-drive, at least in terms of being a small crossover, and the use of that platform keeps the Bronco Sport engaging in curves, especially if Sport mode is activated. This is all relative – the Sport is no sports car – but its moves are good for the type of vehicle it is. Well, mostly good – there’s some body roll, as noted below.

Despite the trucklet’s off-road prowess, the on-road ride is mostly acceptable, with just a hint of stiffness. The front suspension is independent MacPherson strut type with coil spring, stabilizer bar, twin-tube hydraulic gas shocks, steel subframe with aluminum lower control arm, and cast knuckle. The rear suspension is independent double lateral link semi-trailing arms with coil spring, stabilizer bar, and monotube hydraulic gas shocks and isolated steel subframe with cast knuckle. Badlands and First Edition models have the same suspension type but all the bits are unique to those trims, and they also have unique coil springs and cast knuckles in the back. These different bits make for a beefier off-road setup.

That off-road setup could’ve been at fault for some of my demerits – I suspect the more on-road-oriented lower trims are a bit more livable in suburbia. On a normal junket, I’d likely have had a chance to drive both the Badlands and an Outer Banks or Big Bend on surface roads, but COVID concerns kept the event small and short.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

There is body roll – the boxy and upright Bronco Sport is a tad tippy. Not Bronco II tippy – that would be shocking in this day and age – but there’s enough lean when pushed to bring about some mild concern. To be fair, few Bronco buyers will ever slide into a corner hot enough to experience this.

Noise, vibration, and harshness also reared its ugly head, mostly in terms of noise. The Bronco Sport felt quiet and composed only on the smoothest pavement; and some of the rougher asphalt that Southeast Michigan has to offer created rumbling sounds that filtered up. Not so much that it can’t be drowned out with tunes, but I’d hoped for better sound deadening, especially in the top-trim Badlands.

Inside, the cabin is mostly well-thought-out, although the floating infotainment-screen trend raises its ugly head again. There’s a nice cargo shelf below the screen, though I wonder if Ford was better off scrapping that so it could integrate the screen, especially since there’s another cargo area below that.

Controls are easy to reach/use, though Sync, as is often the case, showed a little bit of bugginess – it initially froze CarPlay so that I couldn’t toggle between apps. A quick unplug/replug of my phone fixed this. The gauge cluster provides info that’s easy to read at a glance.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

Rear-seat room seems a bit tight, in terms of legroom, though a boxy shape means headroom is not an issue.

My biggest beef with the cabin is the heavy use of hard plastics, especially given the pricing. That, compared with the noise intrusions, feels a tad downmarket, marring an otherwise pleasant cabin experience.

I said above this is a Bronco I’d want to own, and that’s true despite the flaws I just listed. That’s because individual issues aside, the overall package still manages to work well, and the ride/handling is competent enough to paper over some of the drawbacks.

Then there’s the off-road ability.

There’s the ever-present caveat that when it comes to off-roading, no OEM will put a journalist on a course that the vehicle in question can’t conquer. And in this case, the course was setup specifically to give us scribes a taste of some of the electronic trickery and the various G.O.A.T (Goes Over Any Terrain) modes. That said, the Bronco handled all of the obstacles Ford threw at it with relative ease, and it’s not hard to learn quickly how to best use the various modes (Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand on most models. Badlands and First Edition add Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl) and electronic doo-dads to make your on-trail experience easier.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

Standard or available features include flip-up liftgate glass, 17-inch wheels, Sync 3 infotainment, four-wheel-drive, the Terrain Management System, Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 safety system, in-car Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, push-button start, satellite radio, heated sideview mirrors, 18-inch wheels, black roof, ambient lighting, digital instrument panel, leather-trimmed heated front seats, power front seats, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, remote start, Bang and Olufsen stereo, moonroof, trailer tow package, wireless cell-phone charger, navigation, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, dual USB ports, dual-zone climate control, evasive steering assist, and reverse-sensing system.

There’s more: Upper trims add the two extra G.O.A.T. modes, the 4×4 system with the twin-clutch rear-drive unit, the 2.0-liter engine, off-road suspension, skid plates, Trail Control, 28.5-inch all-terrain tires, paddle shifters, front camera, front tow hooks, 17-inch wheels, and rubberized flooring.

First Edition buyers will get black Bronco badging for the grille, the Badlands powertrain and suspension setup, 17-inch wheels, 29-inch all-terrain tires, black door and hood decals, a trailer tow package, body-color door handles, leather seats, heated steering wheel, power moonroof, and uplevel audio.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

Base pricing is $26,660. The Badlands I drove started at $32,660 and was $37,545 out the door, including the $,1495 for destination.

There are four bundles of accessories – Bike, Camping, Snow, and Water – for the true adventurers among us, and a quick scan of the consumer site shows plenty of other outdoorsy accessories available.

My time as a Bronco II owner didn’t last long – I sold it to a close friend after a year and a half or so, mainly because I was seeking out a Fox-body Mustang. But I spent enough to time with it to come away with a few conclusions. One of those is that Ford probably should offer a compact SUV with off-road chops in its lineup. As you know, the Bronco II eventually morphed into the larger Explorer, although Ford tried to keep a place in this space with the two-door Explorer Sport (more disclosure: One of my parents drives one. Now, in the year 2020.).

Another conclusion I came to is that Ford could do better if it put the effort in. More so than with the Bronco II in the ‘80s or the Explorer Sport in the early Aughts. And it has.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

Yes, this baby Bronco has two more doors and there’s no comparison between 1984 build quality and 2020 build quality. That said, with Ford reentering the compact off-road crossover space, it needed to come on strong. And it did.

The overall package is better than that of the mostly unremarkable Cherokee, and I’d probably take the Sport over a Jeep Compass, too, though both Cherokee and Compass offer similar off-road ability in Trailhawk form. The RAV4 probably can’t do what the Bronco does off-road, even with the TRD treatment, but it’s more well-rounded with a nicer interior.

I did ask Ford, half-jokingly, if the Bronco II name was even considered. I got a polite response about heritage or some such but the exasperated look I got translated to “Do you think we’re stupid?”

More seriously, I was told that they don’t expect the Bronco Sport to cannibalize Escape sales, because not all customers need or want four-wheel drive. I’m not as confident – the Bronco Sport’s more-rugged looks and the fact that many consumers are convinced they need all-wheel/four-wheel drive for snow makes me think the Bronco Sport could easily poach some Escape sales. Except, of course, among hybrid buyers, as only the Escape offers that kind of powertrain.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

The Bronco Sport is one of those vehicles that it works well overall, despite some demerits. If you don’t mind the hard plastics and some noise over rougher pavement, and can be patient with the power, you will be quite happy with this little trucklet. Especially if you wander off road at all.

Usually when an automaker talks about how a given SUV is built for adventure, it’s marketing BS, best met with an eye roll (or another, lewder gesture involving one’s hand), but in the case of the B.S., it’s not BS. Ford has built a compact SUV that can get you past the trailhead while delivering a pleasant if not truly excellent on-road experience.

If Ford can get the baby Bronco this right, that bodes well for the big brother.

To the teen getting a hand-me-down Bronco Sport in the 2030s: Be glad Ford got it right this time.

[Images @ 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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69 Comments on “2021 Ford Bronco Sport First Drive – Baby Bronco Done Right...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I’ll trade you my hand-me-down Chevy Impala for your Bronco. As good of a car that ’67 Chevy was it had FOUR doors, ugh. A Bronco in any teenage boy’s book had enough cool points to offset iffy performance. You’re spoiled ;-)

    I’m really looking forward to this new Bronco, with the underpinnings of the current Escape and the very good workhorse 2.0 Ecoboost engine it’s sure to be a hit with weekend warrior wannabes and that’s a pretty big market. I like :)

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Wow, not nearly as bad as I expected, even if it’s a bit gutless. Very thorough article. I just can’t get past the puck shifter. It screams cheap and looks like a stylist’s design affectation.
    :-/

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I don’t know if many people will know about the engine options, but I bet more would go for the 4 pot if given the choice.

    The MM screen is the least bad looking of the stick out the dash style as well.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I’ve driven a few of the new Escapes and the throttle delay you mention is absolutely no joke. I tried to change lanes when I saw a hole in traffic and I thought the engine had died. Two seconds is an eternity when you pull out into traffic and you expect your vehicle to accelerate and it just falls flat on its face. And two seconds later the engine gets out of the meeting it was having with the management system and finally decides to deliver some meaningful power. I guess you
    could get used to that particular quirk given enough time with the car but it was incredibly annoying. That, and too much electronic crap on the car, like the super slow powered lift back. I can do it faster myself and the car was just slowing me down. Too many electronics motorized creature features for me and since it’s a Ford they are all going to break.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Lack of throttle delay (driveability) is probably the #1 reason I like EVs.

      As you describe, in a couple cars I’ve had dangerous throttle delay that could be measured in seconds – most notably on an 02 Passat and 13 Optima Hybrid. 2 or 3 seconds can be life or death during a merge situation.

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        Throttle delay can be designed into EVs, just as it is in ICEs. Engineers either choose to design it in, or they choose to not design it out, but we know that ICE-cars can be very responsive.

        Wake me when they design a 6-speed MT(simulated is OK) with a 3rd pedal into these EVs. They could do it very easily, but since it would interfere with checking for new TikToks while driving, it’ll never happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Agreed about the electronic crap. I’d maybe try to find a way to live with the base version if I could get a decontented one without auto start-stop, all the annoying and intrusive “driver assistance” technology and Sync.

      Also, Imagefont, do you think the delay in engine response was the auto start-stop – or just the way it is?

      • 0 avatar
        roverv8i

        A few comments on throttle response and auto start/stop. I am coming from the perspective of a 2020 F150 and a 2015 Audi A6. Other brands may not work the same.

        Auto start/stop is not at all an issue. If you lift up on the brake petal, you don’t have to fully release, the car will start. It’s simply matter of changing you driving habits and working on your resistance to change. Once you have done this the car typically will not stop again on short notice so you can press back down on the pedal if needed. Once you have became accustom to the system and accept it as a good thing you will notice that in mixed driving it definitely improves you fuel economy. A lot of stop and go traffic or a drive through not so much as it will not shut off every time. It is most effective when you do not need to run the AC as it can remain shut off for much longer before starting back up. On hot days I may override it for max cooling. Having learned new habits I find it annoying when it does not shut off and I can not figure out why I am sitting still and burning gas for no reason. I sometimes even turn it off in a drive thru in order to engage it when I think I will actually be sitting still the longest to get the maximum savings, almost like a game. You also get use to the silence and it can be annoying for the engine to be running at a stop. This is especially true in the A6.

        It seems many newer cars have the delay in throttle response. There are now after market plug-ins that claim to intercept the throttle signal and adjust for this. My F150 does not have a noticeable lag. The A6 most defiantly does. For cars with eco mode it will most assuredly be there. It may go away in normal or it may not. Sport mode should remove any noticeable throttle lag. Your millage will vary as it depends of the specific setup of the car. My truck thankfully, does not have a big issue as shifting to sport mode with the button on the column shifter is not done quickly. In the A6 it is a non issue. If you need a quick burst of speed you simply flick (not grab like you like depends on it :) the shifter backwards. The 2015 has a “normal” shifter. Then you are in sport mode which eliminate both noticeable throttle lag and turns off start/stop.

        It is understandable if you do not have experience with a specific setup you may start out having issues with it. Where does the key go (if you have one of those :) in a Porsche or a SAAB? You can not expect that a car in 2020 will drive anything like a 95 or 65 for that matter. Yes, I realize that much of the driving public doe not want to actually spend a few seconds thinking about these things but then they will probably not notice because of it. I have intelligent friends that ask questions that seem so obvious to me. For example, what good are the paddle shifters, I never use sport mode? It never occurred to them that it is the only why downshift the car for engine braking. you can use them in normal mode and once back to steady state driving it will revert to automatic. I have also had a person that could not grasp the concept of engine braking and why you might ever use it, so there is that also. I am most interested to see how drivers adapt in the future to the concept of one pedal driving that you can do on a few electrics today. That is definitely not how any of us learned to drive.

        Yes, it is possible to just get in a car and drive it in 2020 but if you have complaints about things like the above I would challenge you to consider if it is really an issue or if you simple are being resistant to change. That’s not to say there is not still poorly executed engineering efforts. Even in those cases you need to consider was it the engineer or was it outside forces. I don’t mean the bean counters, I am referring to regulations that may be a challenge to meet or in some case may be out dated.

        • 0 avatar
          Imagefont

          roverv8i
          A person can adjust to anything but you don’t have to like it. I suspect the reason for throttle delay is emissions related. I drive a Honda right a manual transmission, it annoying hangs on to revs when shifting. This is Honda’s doing to burn away excess fuel for emissions. All new cats have electronics throttles and there is always some sort of delay, even the Mustang GT I rented had some throttle delay. and I’m most of not all cars I’ve driven the start-stop function can be defeated with a button.
          Regardless – I don’t have to like it even if I understand the reason for it.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          The stop/start in my Kia is terrible. The (factory) exhaust barks on restart and I’ve had it roll into an intersection twice under zero power before it refires.

          It also turns off the air conditioning, and living on the Florida peninsula I use AC about 10 months out of the year. So during those months it’ll activate for about 15 seconds before (noticably) refiring the car without any movement because the cabin is getting too hot.

          Throttle response with it off though is decent in all driving modes.

      • 0 avatar
        Imagefont

        In my case it wasn’t start-stop since he engine was running. I think it’s two things – turbo lag and the cars computer limiting the effect of your throttle input to manage the engine and transmission. I was cruising at light throttle in slow moving traffic and was trying to merge into another lane of faster moving traffic, waiting for an opening. So you suddenly put your right foot down expecting some power and it’s as if the rug is pulled out from under you. It takes away your confidence in the vehicle. Once the engine is on the boil even the 3-cyl makes a lot of torque and I’m sure 0-60 is very good. But I’d trade outright power for a responsive engine any day. And I’ve noticed that VW’s do the same things, both in the Passats and the Jettas I’ve driven. Terrible throttle delay, worse when you put your right foot down hard because you need to get the heck out of the way of something.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “I’ve driven a few of the new Escapes and the throttle delay you mention is absolutely no joke.”

      Really? The Escape you drove was it a 2.0 2017 or newer? I have this car and this doesn’t happen. In 2017 Ford changed the 2.0 to a twin scroll turbo which eliminated what little turbo lag it may have had. The current 2.0 Ecoboost’s power is smooth and linear all the way up to 90+ mph with the only occasional hesitation coming from an indecisive transmission trying to decide which gear to drop to under a heavy foot, but that’s rare. Sport mode is even better. My 2.0 Escape is as strong and consistent as any 6 cylinder I’ve ever had and that’s quite a few

      I was hesitant to commit to a turbo four, I like my V6s and 8s, but one test drive convinced me that turbos have come a long way in the last few years, especially this one

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Let me add this…

        “With full grunt online at a relatively low 3000 rpm, the power to merge or dart for holes in traffic is never more than a pedal stomp away. Gear swaps are performed by a six-speed automatic with manual shifting capability, the sole transmission available across the lineup. Programmed for smooth performance rather than split-second action, the transmission will likely never give the average buyer a second thought. Only once did we catch it flat-footed and slow to react to an abrupt application of full throttle, where it missed a beat before downshifting.”

        – Car & Driver review, 2017 Ford Escape Titanium with 2.0l Ecoboost

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          Agreed. I have a 2018 Escape Titanium 4WD Ecoboost. It has no problem slicing and dicing in heavy traffic. Easy to see out of, very maneuverable and acceptably quick and fast for its size.
          It’s not a Mustang GT 5.0, but if I wanted one of those I would have bought one instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Exactly, except for the Mazda CX-5 this is about as close as you’re going to get to a pricey sports-CUV in a mid-priced family crossover

  • avatar
    statikboy

    I don’t imagine Ford cares if it cannibalizes Escape sales. They probably come off the same assembly line and this likely has a higher markup.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      My elderly parents have an Escape and its great little CUV (my dad even tows a 12′ electric boat with it) so a more rugged version should be a big hit. I bet some Escape customers might move into a Bronco if 4WD or some light camping duty is on their activity list. I too don’t think Ford would mind one bit if a customer picks this butch-version of the Escape.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    The two top trims “are the only two available with the 2.0-liter engine.”

    Oh well. I guess I’ll have to cross the Bronco Sport off my list. That’s a pity. I’m assuming Ford wants more people to buy the three-cylinder version keep their CAFE higher. Or do they want these vehicles to be gutless so the inevitable EV version will seem much more impressive? Either way, I won’t be buying one.

    Given that half of this vehicle’s offerings cross into big-brother Bronco’s price range, I’d rather wait until the initial sales rush for the bigger vehicle eases a bit and buy a base version with manual transmission for $30K. No options.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The steering wheel looks very high end to me yet immediately to the right the center stack looks incredibly low end ($2 Ipad-to-dash seems to be why).

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Yeah I really dislike the current trend of iPad-stuck-to-the-dash that many manufactures do. I might not buy the vehicle for that reason alone.
      They look so much like an afterthought that way.

  • avatar
    C5 is Alive

    To help anyone who might read the comments before the article, the actual 2021 Ford Bronco Sport review – with pertinent information relevant to those who might be interested in this vehicle – begins at the… 11th paragraph.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    While I think its laughable the way the Ford family runs their own company, and that the new Escape is a total joke, there is no question the Bronco Sport and the full size Bronco will print money for the company.

    BTW-the last three months Escape sales were 47,000 units. Compare that to the Toyota Rav-4 which sold 120,000 units in the same time period.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Without a doubt. We saw how stupid 80 million “people” (dead and alive) were back on November 3rd so people will ignore all of the massive quality issues and cheap materials and buy these rather mediocre SUVs.

      As for the Escape, its poor sales are a direct result of the awful styling, terrible interior, and massively low quality. People are catching on to the fact that Ford’s for the past 3 years or so have been just awful. You can’t build garbage and expect people to keep buying it. Ford thinks that adding gimmicks like reclining seats or a folding shifter will convince people to look past the abhorrent level of quality.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    ‘The horn was located on the turn-signal stalk.’ That particular Ford feature nearly killed me when some bozy deciding to pass the lineup of cars on Dufferin waiting to enter the Drive-In, blasted north on the 2 lane street, while I was heading south. F

    ‘The passenger seat did not slide fore and aft – it was locked in one spot so it could release via spring to allow rear-seat passengers access to the back seat.’ Originally you could just push the front seatback forward in most cars. We used to have fun ‘crushing’ the driver or front seat passengers when we were jammed into the back. My VW Type IV was the first vehicle I had that had an actually manual release for the seat back. Lincoln Mark IV’s automatically released the seat back when the car was put into Park.

    As for this Bronco. I detest the placement of the ‘tablet’ on the instrument panel. Unfortunately this set-up now almost universal. If that is not a safety hazard, then we should be able to revert to the instrument panel set-ups that we discarded after Sammy Davis Jr’s injury.

    I also dislike the ‘puck’ gear selector.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    So what we have here is a butch Escape with a cheap interior and a problematic infotainment (which isn’t new MyFord Sync has always been terrible).

    And it’s clear Ford didn’t know what they were doing when they designed this butch Escape. By only offering the 2.0 on the highest of trims, they are clearly trying to manipulate people into buying the higher margin models or not buying this reskinned Escape at all. The 1.5 is a terrible engine. Very rough and loud. But at $37k this laughably mediocre effort is about $3,000 to $5,000 too much.

    For that kind of money you could get a far superior Grand Cherokee with a much nicer (but dated) interior, much better and reliable powertrain, and an infotainment system that works. Plus you wouldn’t have to worry about the nonexistent level of quality that has infected all of Fords vehicles. I imagine this will be another poor launch as will the Wrangler clone if it ever comes out.

  • avatar
    Mark Stevenson

    This is going to outsell Escape. You just wait.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Canada perhaps but I express doubts about the US. Ford sold a hair under 47K units in Q3 alone, which was down from 2019’s 60K units. The faux Bronco is kind of expensive so for this reason alone I cannot see it outselling the Escape’s multiple trims.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark Stevenson

        The big reason for the dip is incentives. There were huge incentives to blow out the ’19s. The ’20s haven’t received nearly as much incentive support from Ford. That will probably change for ’21.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Because of the incentives you refer to, 2019 isn’t a good year to look at in terms of sales so off the cuff lets say Ford could move 150K Escapes in 2021 in all trims (inc Lincoln). You are saying you believe Bronco FWD can match this even though it costs significantly more, yes?

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            It should sell over 100k units a year. Jeep can sell near 100k Renegades and over 100k Comnpasses a year, Ford should be able to move 100k Bronco Sports.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Hi Merk!

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It’s going to kill Louisville Assembly Plant.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark Stevenson

        I don’t think it will be that drastic. Escape is just for a very different buyer now than it used to be.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          “Escape is just for a very different buyer now than it used to be.”

          Are there enough of them to buy an assembly plant worth of Escapes (Corsair does tiny volume) at the prices Ford needs to charge to make money on the product?

          The worst part about the new Escape is that Ford isn’t making money on it anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Ford sells between 4-500K Escape/Kugas every year worldwide. Don’t hold your breath

      • 0 avatar
        Mark Stevenson

        I’m talking about U.S./Canadian markets, not globally.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Ok, Ford sold 275K units in North America in 2019 or there about

          • 0 avatar
            Mark Stevenson

            And 2020 Escape sales are down versus 2019…

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, in fairness, just about everything is down for YTD 2020.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            LAP cut a shift recently and has been shut down this year for product related reasons, not just COVID. That’s with a brand new product. My people in the ‘ville say the writing is on the wall. The Escape is too expensive of a product and platform for what customers want.

            Ford has a duck duck goose of manufacturing plants right now. They are going to have to add product or kill one. Both Louisville Assembly Plant and Flat Rock Assembly Plant will both be under utilized by the end of 2021. Since Oakville looks like it will survive, because it can build premium BEV CUVs and ship them to other markets with Canadian FTAs, Flat Rock and Louisville are the odd plants out. I don’t know that Ford can continue to build the Mustang by itself. If the Bronco Sport starts outselling the Escape, or takes a significant chunk or its volume, the same will be said of the Escape. The Maverick looks like it will be made in Mexico too.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Good to see you again, Mark.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t know if this will outsell the Escape, but the profit margin is going to make them wish that were so.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    “…and will present an interesting alternative to the Toyota RAV4.”

    Huh? Maybe things are different where you live, but here in Atlantic Canada the typical RAV4 buyer is well north of 70. I can’t see a septuagenarian or older going for a Bronco Sport. Though it would be easier to identify that person as being more cool than their contemporaries.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    You were a teenager in ’97, and you’re using terms like “hot-to-trot” now? Have you been hanging around old people?

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Off topic, but thanks to your (and others’) recommendation I recently picked up a DR-Z400, great little bike. Thanks Tim!

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    “And 2020 Escape sales are down versus 2019…”
    It’s no wonder. They’re ugly on the front compared to the previous generation. Also, iPad stuck to the dash looks downmarket. Rear end looks OK, though.

  • avatar
    Tim Healey

    I’ve always been told I’m an old soul.

  • avatar
    Tim Healey

    Uhh you’re welcome? I don’t ride so not sure who here you’re thanking but glad you enjoyed the rec!

  • avatar
    nrd515

    You must have been living on another planet. A Bronco II was almost as much as a Dorkmobile than a Pacer was earlier. My friend got stuck with a Bronco II and he was properly mortified. It was tan on top of that, and he would have killed for that ’67 Impala. What he really wanted and finally got at about age 20 was his grandpa’s F150, which he drove until it was mostly a pile of rust, and burning a ton of oil. At present, he drives a 2020 Ram 1500. The Bronco is one of the “I wish I had never seen it!” vehicles he’s owned, along with the epically bad Windstar he had.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The old Bronco II’s were garbage that we often used to see at the auctions with leaky, knocking 2.8’s or 2.9’s and often blown head gaskets, paint peel and the usual electrical issues. I’ll never forget starting my new job in late 1997 I was driving myself home after work at 4PM in a rather snowy day and saw not one but two flipped Bronco II’s on the side of the road. They truly were a dangerous vehicle in the wrong hands.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    “Sport” is the most meaningless word in the automotive world…maybe second most meaningless after “Limited.” I hate it. It means different things. Sometimes it’s an upper trim. Sometimes it’s a lower trim. Sometimes it actually has something to do with sporty. Sometimes it’s an entirely different model as it is here.

    I probably would have called this the Escape and called the new Escape something else (maybe Focus).

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