If nothing else, the Bronco Sport Heritage looks like it’s worth all $46,400. If we’re evaluating this car on its ability to scale down the Bronco look, then Ford has nailed it. The grille is largely identical to the Bronco, and the little fender flairs add to the chunky stance. I’m a big fan of all the Heritage touches as well.
These, for reference, include a number of items, like the pastel yellow shade of paint, white retro-look wheels with all-terrain rubber, retro badging, and special badge coloration depending on your chosen base color. Inside, Ford fits all Heritage models with a faux leather interior, the patterning of which is a callback to plaid seats in Broncos of yore. Honestly, the ought to just be cloth. You’ll also get a little numbered plaque behind the cupholders to remind you just how special your exact car is.
All in all, I’m a big fan of the look here, and I really appreciate some of the design touches. It’s rare to find a car at this price point that looks like nothing else on the road, and that to me is the big draw of ordering a Heritage Edition model.
Interior AssessmentThe Sport’s interior, much like that of its larger sibling, is something of a mixed bag. There are some items that work very well. The MOLLE-compatible straps on the seatbacks will make tacticool adventure-hungry gear aficionados very happy, but the zippered seat back pockets are also a nice touch. I’m also a fan of the car’s center stack, which features legible physical controls that can easily be operated without much thought. In some ways, I even prefer this smaller, less intrusive screen to the larger one you’ll find in other Ford products like the F-150 and Mach-E.
Generally, for every compliment I can hand out here, I’m able to come up with something to counter it. Sure, the infotainment works well, but the sound system is dull and flat. Yes, there is somewhere to put all your stuff, but nothing you touch in the process feels very nice.
There is a load of cheap, poor material choices present in large parts of the interior. The door cards feel more at home in a model airplane, and I really was not a fan of the seat material. While that fake leather may be easy to clean (and look interesting in Heritage spec), it’s very sweaty to sit on, and I’d prefer a cloth seat. These gripes aside, the Bronco Sport does a good job at feeling like a little Bronco, which is something other, much more luxurious competitors can’t take away from it.
Driving TakeOne of the big draws of upper-tier Bronco models is its selectable 4WD and GOAT modes. These items work in tandem to make the Bronco Sport arguably the most competent off-roader in its price segment. So long as you forget that you can also buy a Jeep Wrangler- a much larger, more off-road-oriented SUV- for the same money.
Pushing that thought aside, the Sport does a stellar job off-road. It is helped massively by the all-terrain tires, which offer plenty of grip. The suspension keeps you mostly comfortable and upright in your seat while the tires go to work, too. However, I do think approach and departure angles need some work. For every trail I thought would be no match for the Bronco, there was a route I tip-toed over to avoid damaging the lower fascias. At least there are some nice tow points should you end up a little too stuck.
Ford also grandfathers in some of the big Bronc’s features. Hill descent control is lovely, and being able to manually adjust my electronically locking differentials is a huge plus that just about no one in this segment can compete with. In short, if you’re looking for a small off-roader, this may just be the one.
In typical Ford fashion, this is blended with a good helping of on-road civility as well. Where the turbocharged torque is helpful (250 hp, 277 lb-ft) off-road, it also makes for easy passing on the highway. The Sport is smooth and quiet out there as well, offering a nice reprieve from the outside world. The transmission is a bit lazy, but in fairness to Ford, you can make the “hunts for gears” complaint about most of this little SUV’s competition.
Everyday LivingFord does a great job making the Sport easy to live with in a number of situations. The cargo area is massively customizable, and this car’s only option, the $150 cargo organizer, is a must. It can be pulled out, locked into place, and thanks to some small legs, deployed as a sort of work surface inside the rear hatch. If you need light, two LEDs can be pivoted fore and aft once the liftgate is up to provide some. Heritage models (and many other trims) also come with protection on the back of the seats for all your Young Smiling Millenial Family Adventures.
Generally, my day-to-day driving was pleasant, bolstered by judicious use of the car’s long-range remote start function during the hot Colorado summer. Ford’s adaptive cruise control is also on point, bringing the car to a full stop and accelerating again without you having to do anything but watch for the plebians entering your lane. But, I did hit some snags.
Fuel economy is rather poor, and 25 mpg is getting on for pretty crap fuel economy in an SUV these days. Here at least, we can argue you’ve got 4WD to make up for that. While the chairs are comfy, I don’t love the total lack of support in the lower half. I felt like I was constantly forced into the “man-spread” due to the seat bottom’s shape, almost like sitting on top of an exercise ball. Combine that with the tall driving position, and you’re consciously keeping your legs pointed in the right direction. Clearly, tall folks were the only ones to test this aspect of the car. Finally, there’s the way the Bronco lineup is structured.
Test Drive RoundupThis is a problem for two reasons: unless you really, really need the aesthetic of the Heritage Edition, there are cheaper Broncos out there that do just as much for a few ‘thou less. I hopped on Ford’s configurator and built a very similar car for roughly $5k less ($41,615 with options and delivery). It comes with all the niceties of the Heritage, including its upgraded tires, for less. There’s also the fact that if you really need an off-roader, it’s probably worth looking into a lower-spec Wrangler before pulling the trigger.
- Smooth, quiet ride
- Great off-road chops
- Unique look in a dull segment
- Relatively poor fuel economy
- Middling interior
- Approach and departure angles could be better