Bucking Broncs: Ford Expands Bronco Sport Options
The "baby Bronco" Ford Bronco Sport doesn't get the pub that the Bronco does -- but based on what I observe driving around, it's been a sales winner for the Blue Oval. And while most are probably never taken off-road, Ford is offering more choice for those who want to take their Bronco Sports to the proverbial badlands.
Speaking of badlands, I took two Sports to an Indiana off-road park with that name, and when in off-road trim with proper equipment, the Bronco Sport was quite capable.
Trouble is, if you want that capability, up until now you needed to buy the Badlands trim of the Bronco Sport -- and that is the top-tier trim, and priced to match. Indeed, when I took an Outer Banks-trimmed Bronco Sport to the off-road park, I had to leave in short order, since it couldn't do what the Badlands could at the, uh, Badlands.
I even pointed out in the review that I thought Ford needed an off-road package on its mid-trim Sports.
While I doubt the folks in Dearborn listened to me -- I wish I had that kind of power -- apparently the complaint was common enough that Ford has now added a Black Diamond off-road package as an option for Outer Banks and Big Bend trims.
Ford is also expanding customer access to its Off-Roadeo experience, which teaches customers how to go off the beaten path.
"For adventurers who want to get more from their Bronco Sport, we’re enhancing the ownership experience by offering more trail capability with the new Black Diamond Off-Road Package, plus an included opportunity to learn what their SUV can do at Bronco Off-Roadeo," said Mark Grueber, Enthusiast Vehicle Marketing Manager, in the press release. "Today, nearly 90 percent of Bronco Sport customers that attend Off-Roadeo are likely to go off-roading again, and 97 percent of customers are more knowledgeable and confident doing so, furthering our goal of getting into the wild."
The package adds four skid plates -- note that one reason I left the off-road park early with the OB BS is that it didn't have those, and you need them for serious off-roading -- and all-terrain tires. It also adds package-specific graphics.
It's not a perfect solution -- the Badlands has tow hooks and mud/ruts and rock crawl drive modes, and it appears the Black Diamond package doesn't add those, which is disappointing since those features are helpful off-road. Tow hooks are practically mandatory on vehicles that have serious off-road intent since getting stuck does happen. As both Chris and I have experienced multiple times in recent years.
Still, it's an upgrade for anyone who wants to do light off-roading.
The Off-Roadeo experience is now available to anyone buying a Bronco Sport, regardless of trim. As a reminder, Ford has four locations for the experience -- near Austin, Texas; near Las Vegas; near Moab, Utah; and Gilford, New Hampshire. Ford is also adding winter dates to the Texas and Utah locations.
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Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.
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