Ford Bronco Sport 1.5T First Drive Review 2021: Cheap Bronco

Ford Bronco Sport Full Overview

Ford has clearly designed the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport to be king of the rock-climbing compact, mass-market, crossover-based. And indeed, the full-fledged Badlands model looks as though it has what it takes to leave rivals the Jeep Renegade and Compass Trailhawk at the end of an unattractive winch. But the majority of Renegade and Compass buyers aren’t interested in the Trailhawk, and the same may be true for the Bronco Sport Badlands model. So how livable is the 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder that “powers” most Bronco Sports?

2021 Ford Bronco Sport 1.5T: Acceleration Domination?

Perhaps the most direct comparison is with the Renegade, which also gets a turbocharged three-cylinder—a 1.3-liter unit that currently produces 177 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. However, we should note that this engine is only available on the Trailhawk, Limited, and Latitude models; a naturally aspirated 4.4 liter engine producing 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque based on the Renegades and all Compass variants (the latter being more in line with the size and price of the Bronco Sport).

All Jeeps use a nine-speed automatic transmission, while Ford settles for eight ratios. Based on our only test on the 1.5-liter front-drive Escape, whose engine produces the same 181 hp and 190 lb-ft as the Bronco Sport, which weighs 3,314 pounds (Ford estimates curb weight to be between 3,450-3,500 pounds for this baby Bronco) , we estimate that the base Bronco Sport should be able to hit 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds and cross the quarter mile in about 17 seconds. By comparison, the 3,659-pound Renegade 1.3T we tested in 2019 (when torque was just 200 lb-ft) took 8.9 and 17.0 seconds to hit the mark, and the 2.4-liter Renegade took 9.0 and 16, respectively. 8 seconds. The slightly larger compass took 9.4 seconds to reach 60 mph and 17.2 to cross the quarter mile.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport 1.5T: Around The Horse

The 1.5-liter Bronco Sport accelerates with enough urgency to blend into traffic — or at least I thought so until I drove the Badlands model with the 2.0-liter. If you can’t afford it, don’t torture yourself with such a test drive. That said, if I had a 1.5-liter Bronco Sport, I would quickly develop the muscle memory to drop my hand from the start button to the drive mode dial and immediately turn it into Sport mode. The default Normal Mode is programmed to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 25/28/26 mpg estimate, providing an early shift that sometimes drags the engine. Sport Mode wakes up the powertrain nicely, causing the transmission to hold gear longer, with first-to-second gearshifts coming in at 6,000 rpm instead of 5,800. That’s still a long way from the 6,500-rpm redline, but there’s probably some tachometer lag at the start—most of the other upshifts are at 6,250 on the Sport.

The soundtrack that accompanies the acceleration won’t inspire any hyperbole. This type of triple groan is like most engines with an odd number of cylinders. And while Ford sound experts have managed to debate some authentic-sounding V-8 music from the 2.0-liter “EcoBoost” four-cylinder engine into the cockpit of the top Badlands model, they can’t conclusively fill the space any further. pulse power from these three cylinders with 2021 level magic technology.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport 1.5T: Horseman

As we noted in our description of the suspension and all-wheel-drive systems, the Bronco Sport gets stiffer dampers with springs and a softer anti-roll bar than its Escape sibling, and you can easily feel the difference. Ride quality is a bit abrupt compared to bigger crashes, although the high sidewalls help absorb minor bumps and surface texture well. It’s never uncomfortable, but Escape is generally smoother. Maximum lateral grip is bound to follow Escape, and there’s a bit more body roll at tougher angles, but the adjective “nautical” doesn’t show up in my notebook. The increased articulation afforded by the softer springs and bars seem to be worth this modest increase in body slimness.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport 1.5T: Off-Road Sidewalk

How far is the Bronco Sport 1.5T off-road? Well, apparently not climbing Mount Inyo where the Bronco Sport Badlands impressed Scott Evans so much, because Ford didn’t bring the 1.5-liter model on that adventure. But Ford took the entire Bronco Sport lineup to its newly minted off-road park in southeast Michigan, and I spent the day on a 1.5-liter Outer Banks model with 225/60R-18 Michelin Primacy AS2 all-season tires. Only the Badlands model was allowed to play on Moab’s simulated slick-rock obstacle course, and I was ushered into several other rock climbing events that demanded all-terrain tire grip, additional ground clearance, and individually lockable rear half axles on the Badlands model.

But we got a dramatic demonstration of what the basic vehicle’s GOAT Mode (for Go Over Any Terrain) can do when our caravan leader revives his 1.5-liter vehicle (defaults to Normal mode) only to have traction control power out frequently. prevented him from climbing the hill. Switching to Sand mode makes it (and me) go uphill with ease, as it instructs the traction and stability system to allow for more wheel slip and vehicle slip angles. (This is the preferred setting for hanging tails on gravel roads as well, which 1.5 will do if you stick it hard enough.)

Base Bronco Sports does so without the “off-road cruise control” Trail Control which provides slow, steady progress on uphill and downhill terrain. Even without it, in Sand mode, I was able to manually hold 3 mph over steep, slippery hills, though I did advise the programmers to roll back the throttle response a few more notches in Sand mode, as seen. slightly more jump than ideal for this maneuver.

Brake modulation feels just right. With firm, steady pedal pressure, I manually “descent control” my Outer Banks model down equally steep and slippery slopes without sliding and only felt the occasional antilock brake modulation at one or more angles as needed—as would happen with the control system. programmed hill descent.

Another Badlands knick-know that the lower model should have is a front camera that helps you see what’s over the blind abyss you’re aiming for. But you probably don’t have to go alone, so just throw down your gun and wave your hand.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport 1.5T: Putting the “Buck” on the Bucking

The entry-level Bronco Sport costs only $525 more than the Escape S AWD; the real Big Bend model is $195 cheaper from SE AWD; and even the majestic Outer Banks model I sampled was only $1,705 more expensive than the 1.5-liter AWD Escape SEL. Of course, the equipment levels don’t match up perfectly, but the Bronco Sport gear not available on the Escape—not to mention the many aesthetic charms of its interior and exterior—make this new little truck that much more appealing at this price point. Yes, they cost a bit more than the equivalent Jeep Compass or Renegade models, and we’ll have to sample them in order to determine if they’re worth the extra scratch. Only such a battle empire between iconic adjoining rivals can definitively crown the king of rock-climbing (base-engined) compact, mass-market-based, rock climbers.

Looks good! More information?

Ford Bronco Sport 1.5T 2021
PRICE $28,155-$33,655
LAYOUT Front engine, AWD, 5-pass SUV, 4-door
MACHINE 1.5L/181-hp/190-lb-ft DOHC 12-valve I-3 . turbo
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
ROAD WEIGHT 3,450-3,500 (mfr)
WHEELBASE 105.1 inch
L x W x H 172.7 x 74.3 x 70.2-70.3 inches
0-60 MPH 8.6 seconds (approximate MT)
EPA FUEL ECON 25/28/26 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 135/120 kW-hour/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.74 lb/mile
FOR SALE At the moment

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