2021 Ford Bronco vs. 2021 Ford Bronco Sport: Compare SUVs

2021 Ford Bronco family

With the new Bronco, Ford resurrected one of its iconic brands from more than two decades ago now. It was so nice that Ford did it twice.

The 2021 Ford Bronco and 2021 Bronco Sport are a pair of off-road SUVs with two different missions. The Bronco is a boxy, tall two- or four-door SUV with hardcore potential; the four-door Bronco Sport crossover is closer kin to the Escape with trail-running hardware and a street-friendly suspension. Both start for less than $30,000—and in base trims are comparably priced.

We haven’t yet driven either model and will report back when we do. The TCC Ratings for both aren’t yet in, but the fight on paper is already underway.

Which is right for you? Let’s chat.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco

2021 Ford Bronco

Style and performance

The Bronco and Bronco Sport share many common themes, outside and inside. Both draw inspiration from the early, boxy 1960s Broncos, although the bigger Bronco pencils in a straighter line.

Both have straight body sides, a blunt front grille, round headlights, and crisp corners. The Bronco Sport’s roof turns up for more interior space, the Bronco’s roof comes all the way off for alfresco adventure.

Inside, the Bronco and Bronco Sport feature throwback interiors with modern conveniences. Both interiors are upright and utilitarian, although the Bronco aligns closer to the older versions with broader spaces. The Bronco Sport plants a floating 8.0-inch touchscreen in the middle of its dash, while the Bronco uses an 8.0- or 12.0-inch version, depending on trim level.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Bronco Sport borrows its powertrains from the related Escape and adds a few trail-ready tricks to separate it from the car-like crossover. The Bronco Sport is equipped with a 181-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbo-3 as standard equipment in most models. A 2.0-liter turbo-4 is reserved for the top trim. All-wheel drive is standard on all trims, although a more advanced twin-clutch version is fitted to the 2.0-liter turbo-4. An 8-speed automatic is standard across the board. The Bronco Sport can add an off-road suspension and multiple trail modes for where the pavement ends. With that suspension, and up to 29-inch tall tires, the Bronco Sport has 8.8 inches of ground clearance and can ford up to two feet of water.

2021 Ford Bronco

The Bronco goes further. The base engine is a 270-hp 2.3-liter turbo-4 borrowed from the Ranger pickup. It’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, or a 7-speed manual transmission with a very low, “crawler” first gear. Its four-wheel-drive system gets a two-speed transfer case in the back with a low range, upgradeable to an automatic system with an electromechanical transfer case. A 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 is borrowed from the F-150 and available in every trim level of the Bronco but is only available with a 10-speed automatic. (The engine is standard on Wildtrak models.) That V-6 makes 310 hp and is paired with the same four-wheel-drive systems. An optional off-road “Sasquatch package” can be equipped on all trims and adds big 35-inch tires, upgraded Bilstein shocks, and locking front and rear differentials, but requires an automatic transmission.

The Bronco Sport is rated to tow up to 2,200 pounds; the Bronco drags up to 3,500.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco

2021 Ford Bronco

Comfort, safety, and features

The Bronco Sport seats up to five passengers, while the Bronco seats four or five depending on the number of doors. The Bronco Sport packs a lot of room into its 173-inch body, including more than 30 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, or more than 65 with the rear seats folded forward. Second-row riders get ample leg room—more than 36 inches—although three abreast in back may be a stretch.

The two-door Bronco doesn’t make that promise. It only has four seats, and stores 23.6 cubic feet of cargo behind the second row, or 52.3 cubic feet with the second row folded. Four-door Broncos expand that space to 35.6 cubes behind the second row, or 77.6 with the seats folded. Four-door Broncos seat up to five, with room for three in the back, although its leg room is the same as the Bronco Sport: 36.3 inches.

Most Bronco Sports will be equipped with cloth upholstery, though leather-trimmed buckets are available. Rubber floors and zippered pockets complete the look inside.

2021 Ford Bronco

The Bronco also offers cloth upholstery on most models, although leather is on the options list and some trims offer a durable vinyl that’s wash-and-ready. Rubber floors appear on the Bronco, too, and there are drain plugs to hose out the floors when the going gets muddy.

The Bronco Sport is equipped with standard automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control. Adaptive cruise control is available. The Bronco reserves that for Bronco Big Bend or higher (active safety isn’t available on base models) where it’s optional, or Outer Banks and Wildtrak where it’s standard. 

The Bronco Sport starts at $28,155 for a base version and crests $40,000 in top, First Edition models. The Bronco starts at $29,995 for a two-door base version and doesn’t stay there long. Four-door base models cost $34,695 and fully loaded First Editions command more than $64,000.

The Bronco Sport likely will appeal more to weekend warriors who need a more efficient SUV around town. The Bronco’s appeal is in the adventure it promises (and likely delivers) although its hardier construction and upright style is likely to be less efficient and less comfortable around town.

We can’t wait to find out. Stay tuned.




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