2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands First Test Review: Big Performance

Ford Bronco Sport Full Overview

Most 2021 Ford Bronco Sport for sale will be lower trim levels like base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks, and according to our test results, people who buy it should be happy with the balance of midpack performance and off-road capability. The folks who really want to get off the beaten track, though, will hop on a horse for the hardcore Badlands off-road trim level (or they get one of the sold-out First Editions), and they’ll get a lot more than just a standout tire. .

It’s technically a trim level, but it’s more instructive to think of the Bronco Sport Badlands the way you’d think of the Trailhawk Jeep (or the BMW M, if you’re not an off-roader). It’s a complete package of off-road hardware, not just a bunch of options. It starts under the hood, with the standard turbocharged I-3 replaced with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 that makes 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. At the rear, the standard all-wheel-drive system replaces the rear axle differential with a dual-clutch rear axle. By placing the clutch on half the axle shaft, the system can vector torque from side to side by slipping and locking one of the clutches as needed. It can also lock both clutches to effectively create virtual axle lockers. In corners, Ford installed different shock absorbers, with hydraulic shock absorbers built into the front shock absorbers to better take big hits. All-terrain tires are standard; more prominent and more aggressive all-terrain tires are optional. Underneath, the skidplate protects the engine and transmission assembly as well as the gas tank. The extra GOAT off-road mode in the software offers better performance in certain off-road conditions.

As you might expect, all the extra hardware adds weight, and Badlands tip the scales almost 100 pounds heavier than the well-equipped Bronco Sport Outer Banks trim. It also has 69 more horsepower and 87 lb-ft of torque, so the extra weight isn’t a problem. With 2.0 on board, the Bronco Sport jumps from the middle of the pack to the front, at least in terms of acceleration. Taking just 6.5 seconds to reach 60 mph, Badlands is more than 2.0 seconds faster than the rest of the Bronco Sports and faster than most of its competitors.

It would probably be faster if it accelerated smoothly. After testing, road test editor Chris Walton reported: “It launched pretty well, but there was turbo lag. Power was reduced in some gearshifts, then the turbo hit and bounced back, but not all gearshifts. The gearshift is long. Unusual: There short gears and high gears and slow shifts and fast shifts. I’m not sure what’s going on here. You can see all this on the acceleration curve. Everything wobbles.”

Aside from smoother power delivery, road-friendly tires might also make this Bronco Sport faster, but that’s not why you should buy Badlands. If you get an off-road model, you have to get the most aggressive tires that make it the best off-roader, and that’s what we did. However, all difficult terrain is not so great on the road, so they give up traction when accelerating handling, and braking.

Pulling an average 0.76 g lateral on the skidpad and doing a figure-eight lap of 28.4 seconds at a 0.59 g average puts the Bronco Sport behind its class, just ahead of the equally focused off-road Jeep Compass Trailhawk. . Taking 123 feet to stop from 60 mph only drops it to the bottom center and still puts it ahead of some competitors on street tires. That’s also 8 feet further than the Outer Banks need.

The good news is that this limit test doesn’t reflect how the Bronco Sport Badlands ride on a daily basis. As we noted on our First Drive, Badlands handles fairly well, has plenty of freeway and passing power, and brakes confidently. Our testing reveals Ford’s stability control program is very aggressive in the Badlands, so don’t let the low grip numbers fool you into thinking the vehicle doesn’t handle well enough to be safe. If the computer has backed down (can’t shut down completely), the number will likely be much higher.

You’ll feel the weight loss and the deepest off-road tires in fuel economy. According to the EPA, Badlands gets 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined. The Outer Banks do 4 better in the city, 2 better on the highway, and 3 better combined, and are near the bottom of the class. Bronco Sport Badlands got the job done, moving the rest of the way down.

On numbers, Badlands are a mixed bag, quicker in the straights but less capable in the corners. Street performances, as we have defined, are not the yardstick by which to judge Badlands. It’s informative, but you know you’re trading some on-road performance for a lot of off-road performance. When you consider how the Bronco Sport Badlands performs in both environments, it’s clear to us Ford has struck a fantastic balance.

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Ford Bronco Sport Badlands 2021

VEHICLE Layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass SUV, 4-door
MACHINE 2.0L/250-hp/277-lb-ft* 16-valve DOHC turbo I-4
TRANSMISSION Automatic 8 speed
ROAD WEIGHT (F/R REACH) 3,677 pounds (58/42%)
WHEELBASE 105.1 inch
Length x width x height 172.7 x 74.3 x 71.4 inches
0-60 MPH 6.5 seconds
QUARTER MILE 15.3 seconds @ 87.8 mph
REM, 60-0 MPH 123 feet
MT PICTURE EIGHT 28.4 sec @ 0.59 g (average)
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 160/130 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.84 lb/mile
*Rated horsepower and torque with 93 . octane fuel

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