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Smaller Bronco Sport brings the styling of the mid-size model to the sub-compact crossover class.

Ford isn’t just debuting one new SUV today. In addition to the 2021 Bronco, the Blue Oval also showed off the smaller, more road-biased Bronco Sport, which will drop into one of the most competitive automotive segment in America: the subcompact crossover class.

The Bronco Sport splits the difference between today’s crossovers and the regular Bronco. It’s smaller, for starters, and not just compared to its bigger brother. At 172.7 inches from bluff nose to tail, the Bronco Sport is nearly eight inches shorter than the current Escape. It’s much taller though, sitting anywhere from 70.2 to 74.4 inches tall depending on spec. How well it crams all the new-age Bronco looks into a smaller package is up to the viewer, but to us, Ford’s done a pretty solid job here. Boxy is in!

Bronco Junior

Even if the Bronco Sport is a little crossover, Ford is aiming it at the more off-roady side of the spectrum. It comes only with all-wheel drive, and seven available drive modes as part of its Terrain Management System. Standard modes include Normal, Eco, Sand and Slippery; Badlands and First Edition trims add Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes. Those higher trims also include goodies like uniquely tuned front struts and hydraulic rebound stops. A front camera helps show you the path ahead via the central infotainment screen, and even comes with a dedicated washer. Ford’s Trail Control technology also allows for a set off-roading pace, anywhere from 6 mph in reverse to 20 mph moving forward.

Other numbers sure to please off-roading enthusiasts: 8.8 inches (maximum ground clearance); 30.4, 20.4, and 33.1 degrees (approach, breakover, and departure angles); and 23.6 inches (maximum water fording depth). These are all from the Badlands edition, specifically with the optional 29-inch all-terrain tires.

Towing capacity tops out at 2,200 lb in the Badlands and First Edition Bronco Sports.

As for what’s powering the Bronco Sport, look again to the Escape. Ford’s three- and four-cylinder EcoBoost engines do duty here, in 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter displacements. The smaller engine puts out a class-adequate 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile the four-pot should be the powerhouse of the scene, with Ford targeting 245 hp and 275 lb-ft. Both engines come with an eight-speed automatic. The 2.0-liter adds an oil cooler and steering wheel-mounted shift paddles for manual control.

Plenty of Customization

Ford is proud of the fact over 100 aftermarket accessories will be available for Bronco Sport from launch. Many of these will be bundled into one of four themes: Bike, Snow, Water and Camping. Some of the best features are standard though: a slide-out working table. liftgate floodlamps, and even a built-in bottle opener in the tailgate are some of our personal faves.

The Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features is standard on all Bronco Sports. It includes automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, and auto high beams. Adaptive cruise control and evasive steering assist are available in higher-spec Co-Pilot360 packages.

Trims and Prices

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport will debut in five trims: Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands and First Edition. The latter two will come with all-terrain tires as standard, and the bigger engine.

It will hit dealerships in the fourth quarter this year, but interested parties can already reserve it now at Ford’s website for $100. Expect full price listings closer to release.

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