June 29, 2022



Ford’s Bronco Sport model brings compact SUV with an iconic name 

6 min read

Ford last year revived its iconic Bronco line of sport-utility vehicles in not one, but two sizes.

There’s the new Bronco Sport, a compact crossover based on the Ford escape, and one called simply the Bronco, which is a full-size body-on-frame SUV based on the F-150 pickup.

For this report, we tested the Sport model, which is a unibody design based on the compact Ford Escape. It’s not like the previous generation’s Bronco II, which was a body-on-frame SUV based on Ford’s compact pickup.

While the Bronco Sport isn’t as rugged am off-roader as its bigger first cousin, the Bronco, it does come with standard four-wheel drive and some off-road capabilities.

There are four Bronco Sport trim levels for 2022, starting with the Base model at $28,265 (plus $1,595 freight), and ranging as high as $36,590 for the top-of-the-line Badlands. The other two trims are the Big Bend ($29,980) and the Outer Banks ($33,900).

Although it’s essentially a car underneath, the Bronco Sport does share some of the big Broncos’ styling cues, and its four-wheel-drive systems are suited to some quasi-serious off-road adventuring.

Two engines are available. The base engine, which comes in the Base, Big Bend and Outer Banks models, is a 1.5-liter EcoBoost inline three-cylinder, producing 181 horsepower and 190 foot-pounds of torque.

Standard on the Badlands model is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, cranking out 245 horsepower and 275 foot-pounds of torque.
Both engines run on gasoline, and come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The transmission in the Badlands also has Ford’s SelectShift manual-shift capability, with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Ford says the 2.0-liter models come with extra transmission and rear-drive coolers to help keep them “running strong over tough terrain.”
Our tester for this report was the Outer Banks model with a Bronze Smoke Metallic exterior color and Ebony Roast Leather interior. Interior styling looks upscale, not functional off-road-ish, which was a plus.

Ford says that in keeping with the needs of the target market – the young-adventurer crowd – the Bronco Sport is designed to carry two mountain bikes standing up in the cargo area, with room for two passengers up front (with the rear seatback folded down).

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While it has four-wheel drive, the Bronco Sport’s system is more like a crossover’s all-wheel drive, in that it does not come with a two-speed transfer case to provide low-range gearing for extreme off-road driving.

Our Bronco Sport’s 1.5-liter engine seemed to provide adequate power wherever we went. We did not try any steep hills, but I expect they would be no trouble for this engine, as long as they didn’t get too steep.

We drove on some state and national park unpaved roads, but did not attempt any serious off-road trails. The ride was a bit rough, but not unusual for this class of vehicle on unpaved roads.

Our front bucket seats were comfortable, and our rear-seat passenger had no complaints about comfort or ride harshness. The middle rear seat position is not suitable for adults, however, which is usually the case in any compact crossover.

Badlands models have an advanced 4WD system with a twin-clutch rear-drive unit and differential lock, which can send virtually all rear-axle power to either of the rear wheels.

A Terrain Management System is standard, with a rotary dial on the center console allowing the driver to select one of five drive modes in the first three trim levels (such as Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand), or up to seven modes (adding Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl) on Badlands and First Edition versions.

All Sport models come with independent front and rear suspensions.

The first three trims can drive through water up to 17.7 inches deep, while the Badlands can handle water up to 23.6 inches deep.
Available is a front off-road camera with lens washer to allow for better forward visibility on the trail.

There are available “accessory bundles” and more than 100 standalone accessories to let owners customize their Bronco Sports to carry camping gear, kayaks, skis and other sports equipment.

Ford says the Bronco Sport’s exterior design “is directly linked” to that of its bigger brother, and includes the signature encapsulated cartridge grille, round headlights, flat bodysides, and short front and rear overhangs.

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Our Outer Banks model came with 18-inch machined-aluminum Ebony Black painted wheels. The Tech Package ($1,285) added a wireless charging pad, HD radio, universal garage/gate opener, and Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker audio system.

We also had a black-painted roof and roof rails, power liftgate with flip-up glass, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers with de-icer, LED fog lights and taillights, heated/power outside mirrors, and body-color door handles.

Inside, there are heated seats with eight-way power adjust for the driver and six-way power for the front passenger; auto-dimming rearview mirror; leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel; dual-zone automatic climate control; and ambient lighting.

The rear seatback has a 60/40 split-folding feature. The seatback also has rubber backing, the same as the rest of the cargo floor, so that the entire cargo area has the rubber floor when the seat is folded down. 

There is 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, which expands to 65.2 cubic feet with the rear seat folded, on the Base, Big Bend and Outer Banks models. On Badlands and First Edition models, there is 29.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat, and 60.6 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

The instrument cluster has a 6.5-inch LCD screen, while the audio system has an 8-inch touch screen in the middle of the dash. The Ford SYNC 3 system accommodates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other available features include Alexa capability and satellite radio.

Available is a five-way configurable cargo-management system with a slide-out table plus a 400-watt, 110-volt inverter and liftgate floodlights.

The standard Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist technologies added 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, the Auto High Beams and a rearview camera. 

Other available features include Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering, Evasive Steering Assist and voice-activated touch-screen navigation.

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The optional Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist ($895, included on our tester) brings Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane-Centering and Speed Sign Recognition.

EPA fuel-economy estimates are 25 mpg city/28 highway/26 combined for the 1.5-liter engine, and 21/26/23 for the 2.0-liter.
Total sticker price for our 2022 Bronco Sport Outer Banks model was $37,675, including freight and options.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Express-News since 2000. Contact him at [email protected] His driving partner Emma Jayne Williams contributed to this report.

2022 Ford Bronco Sport

The package: Compact, five-door, turbocharged three- or four-cylinder, gasoline-powered, four-wheel-drive, five-passenger, crossover utility vehicle.
Highlights: Ford revived its revered Bronco nameplate for a new range of SUVs for 2021, including the full-size, truck-based Bronco and this smaller, car-based crossover, the Bronco Sport, built on the Ford Escape’s architecture. The Bronco Sport is much less off-road capable than its big brother, but four-wheel-drive is standard.
Negatives: Middle rear seat tight for adults. 
Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged inline three-cylinder, gasoline (Big Bend, Outer Banks): 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (First Edition, Badlands).
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic (Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks); eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters (First Edition, Badlands).
Power/torque: 181 HP./190 foot-pounds (1.5-liter); 250 HP./277 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Air bags: Front seat-mounted side; overhead side-curtain, both rows.
Overall length: 172.7 inches.
Curb weight: 3,457-3,713 pounds.
Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds (Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks); 2,200 pounds (First Edition, Badlands).
Cargo capacity: 32.5 cubic feet behind rear seat, 65.2 rear seat folded (Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks); 29.4 cubic feet behind rear seat, 60.6 cubic feet, rear seat folded (First Edition, Badlands),
Fuel capacity/type: 16 gallons/ premium unleaded gasoline recommended but not required (power specs are based on use of premium).
EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city/28 highway/26 combined (1.5-liter); 21/26/23 (2.0-liter).
Base price range: $28,265-$36,590, plus $1,595 freight.
Price as tested: $37,675, including freight and options (2022 Outer Banks model).
On the Road rating: 8.5 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail. Actual selling price may vary.

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