2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks Test and Review

What is better than one Bronco? Two Broncos! Back in 2019, Ford Motor Company announced the return of the Bronco. Following that, another announcement came forward that there would be a downsized option called the Bronco Sport. Off Road Xtreme was fortunate to get behind the wheel and road test a well appointed 2021 Bronco Sport Outer Banks edition equipped with G.O.A.T. mode in the rugged Pacific Northwest mountains and beaches.

With visions of the Bronco II some scoffed. However Ford Motor Company is not one to repeat a failed concept. After all, you never heard of an Edsel II, did you? So, the Bronco faithful waited to see what would come out of the assembly plant.

From any angle the Bronco Sport has some of its ancestors lines.

The Bronco Sport Cometh.

What emerged was a five door compact crossover SUV. It was built on Ford’s C2 platform which was used for the Escape, and will be used on the upcoming Maverick pickup. It was touted by Ford as “the Bronco of small SUVs.”

Sometimes the dash is more scenic than the road in front of you.

The Sport featured throw-back styling to its Bronco ancestor while promising exciting high speed off-road driving. The Sport was tested in California’s Johnson Valley, a particularly inhospitable piece of ground known for hosting the King of Hammers off-road competition.

What makes it worthy of carrying the Bronco name?

There was a lot of thought and engineering that went into answering that very question. Therefore what the came out in the end was the basis for the Built Wild 4X4 confidence. Particular attention was paid to suspension, drivetrain, and underside protection.

The all-new Bronco Sport is an available interior bike rack that lets adventurers transport two bikes inside.

The  Bronco Sport was designed with the outdoor adventurer in mind, just like its 1966 ancestor. The storage area can handle storing two mountain bikes with up to 27.5 inch tires. Also Roof racks can carry any equipment needed from extra bicycles to kayaks or storage bins.

1.5 Liters does not sound like much to get excited about.

It does not, does it? In ‘normal’ mode the Ecoboost turbocharged engine is capable of scooting the Bronco Sport around adequately. You can pass in traffic and get off the traffic signals with some oomph. If that is not enough for you then let’s flip the G.O.A.T knob around to “sport” mode. This is wear the Ecoboost engine makes that magic 181 horsepower and 190 ft-lbs. of torque number. Sport mode makes the Bronco very peppy to say the least.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Review

The 1.5 Liter Ecoboost Engine does not sound like a lot of engine but it will surprise you given the chance.

G.O.A.T makes all the difference.

The drivetrain command center housing your shifter knob and G.O.A.T selector.

G.O.A.T stands for “go over any type of terrain”. On the Outer Banks, Big Bend and Base models you can choose from normal, sand, slippery, eco, and sport modes. Mud/Ruts and rock crawl modes are available on the First Edition and Badlands models. Each mode adjusts the various aspects of the drivetrain for better control.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Review

Did you get off-road with it?

As a matter of fact, I did. I was able to get out on twisty gravel logging roads, sandy roads, and some rocky sections. We had the opportunity to line up our Bronco Sport field testing with the Northwest Bronco Round Up event. This provided plenty of off-roading challenges and got the vehicle out flocking around with a heard of its ancestors.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Review

The 2021 Bronco Sport has surprising capabilities off road. Photos Courtesy Ford Media.

Where the Bronco Sport impressed me was on the gravel logging road. I started with the G.O.A.T mode in slippery. It kept me straight and true and gripped the corners well. Same with the sand mode. I quickly got bored with that, as any former rally competitor would, and went for Sport mode.

Suddenly I was able to slide the Bronco around, a gentle stab of the throttle pulled me out of drifts with authority. The throttle response gave me a lot of confidence as I hustled up that heavily graveled road.

Any downsides while you were off-road?

What held me back was the Outer Banks package equipped 225/60R18 Michelin Primacy tires. As impressive as they were on gravel and lightly sanded roads I was surprised at my issues with deeper sand.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Review

The OE tire might not be suitable for all conditions your typical Bronco owners wants to get into. However, the Outer Banks package did surprise me in several situations.

As I tried to venture into serious sand dunes the floatation that I counted on was not what I needed. I needed traction. And with passenger car tire construction I was hesitant to air down the tires very far for fear of damaging the sidewalls.

With a proper off-road tire, I am confident that the Bronco Sport would have been able to get through the deeper sandy section I was hoping to get through. The Badlands and First Edition models do come with taller all terrain tires.

The cool stuff.

The Bronco Sport is loaded with lots of really cool features. There are plenty of charging ports, two in the front, two in the center console, and in two in the rear. Plus a 150 watt 110 volt plug. The standard stereo system comes with a six speaker system. There is an upgraded 10 speaker with built in sub-woofer available.

Charging ports are in all the right places.

In the cargo area are LED flood lights in the lift gate for those that tailgate at all hours. The lift gate splits so you can choose to just have the glass lift, or the whole gate. It is up to you.  A 12 volt power source will power whatever you need. A formed cargo liner will help contain inevitable spills.

The interior is well appointed.

Giving The Bronco Sport Back.

I was sorry to give the Bronco Sport back to Ford. It proved to be a fun, gutsy, capable small SUV. Truly the Bronco of small SUVs. Stay tuned for Off Road Xtreme’s road test and review of a fullsize Bronco Badlands. We took the truck out for a 1,300 mile road trip for some off-roading fun in Sedona, Arizona.

Article Sources

About the author

John Elkin

John Elkin was born into an off-roading family. Most vacations were spent exploring Death Valley. Later, John found off-road racing, then rally. His competition career spanned 35 years, mostly navigating. John lives in Vancouver, WA. with his family.
Read My Articles

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