2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks 4x4 - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
The new Bronco punches way above its class
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Red Lobster restaurants used to have a luncheon special called the Outer Banks Sampler. For under ten bucks you got a delicious combo of shrimp, scallops and clams, plus a nice garden salad and potato of your choice. Although the chain discontinued my favorite lunch years ago, I think it's resurfaced at Ford with the all-new Bronco Sport Outer Banks 4x4, a very tasty SUV sampler that goes for just $36,045. In automotive dollars, that's the equivalent of a sub-ten buck lunch.
When I assess a test vehicle, I always try to estimate its price before I look at the Monroney sticker. In this Bronco's case, I picked a number substantially above $40,000, so I was very pleasantly shocked to discover that the newest addition to the Ford SUV line lists for an eye-opening price of just $32,160. This number includes the many considerable attributes of the Outer Banks model. Add an additional $1,495 for the Ford CO-Pilot 360 Assist+ package that provides adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, speed sign recognition and voice activated touchscreen navigation.
The Outer Banks interior features lovely "Navy Pier" blue leather trimmed bucket seats. These puffy chairs cool you with mini perforations. They also remind you what you're driving every time you climb aboard because both seat backs feature subtle impressions of a bucking Bronco. The wild horse motif carries over to the start-up logo on the TFT screen when you first open the door. Depress the Start button and you're treated to another graphic display of boulders loosed from a mountain top by stampeding horses. The list of Outer Banks attributes continues with a shadow black roof which does a great job of visually lowering the SUV's tall 70 inch profile. Both front seats are heated, as is the leather steering wheel whose hub is decorated with a chrome bronco emblem. Dual USB ports (Type C and A) are located inside the center console.
The Outer Banks model features a 4x4 system which Ford humorously calls "G.O.A.T" - an acronym for "Goes Over Any Terrain." In fact, a central console knob allows you to dial up 5 GOAT modes as part of the terrain management system. Our favorites for paved road use were Normal for freeway cruises, and Sport, which afforded a well snubbed, athletic pace over poorly maintained country back roads. The other two mode choices are for "Slippery" and "Sand." The Outer Banks is the only Bronco Sport equipped with standard 18 inch alloy rims. These machined face aluminum and ebony rims not only improve appearance over the standard 17 inch alloys, but also mount 18 inch Michelin Primacy A/S tires that upgrade the vehicle's paved road handling. These 18 inch Michelins (225/60R18) roll on 60 series sidewalls versus the taller 65 series sidewalls of the 225/65R17 equipment.
Ford offers 5 different versions of the new Bronco Sport. You can buy a Base model ($28,315), Big Bend ($29,815), Outer Banks ($32,160), Badlands ($34,315), and First Edition ($39,655). The less expensive models are powered by a turbocharged 1.5 liter, 3 cylinder motor producing 181hp. Upper echelon Bronco Sports replace the inline 3 with a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbo that ups output to 245hp. Our test Bronco coupled the smaller engine to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Under most circumstances, this combination worked well. It will run the 0-60 mph sprint in a fairly athletic 8.4 seconds, and reach the standing start quarter mile in 16.4 seconds (at 84 mph). However, a couple of two-lane passing forays convinced me that I would definitely opt for the more powerful 2.0 liter turbo motor for my own Bronco Sport. Certainly, if you have ambitions to tow anything, you'll definitely want to opt for the bigger engine.
The newest Bronco is a lively, athletic, good looking package that will provide a lot of driving fun. It handles exceptionally well. It's beautifully appointed. Inside, it feels huge, and in fact the numbers bear out that feeling. With all seats folded flat, you can carry 65.2 cubic feet of cargo inside. Better yet, if you're a biker, Ford offers a slide out two-bicycle platform to carry your rides inside the cabin for just $238. I can't think of much competition for that kind of lockable bike security.
A lot of air will be expended about how the Bronco Sport compares to this model Jeep and that model Subaru. But I think this package is so well conceived and sophisticated that you could put it up against ridiculously overpriced SUVs like the Range Rover Velar and Evoque and come out way on top buying this fetching new Ford instead.
2021 FORD BRONCO SPORT OUTER BANKS 4x4
ENGINE: 1.5 liter DOHC 12 valve inline 3 turbocharged
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 26MPG City/31MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $36,045
HYPES: Handsomely Done, Sensible Fun
GRIPES: Go for the Turbo 2.0
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10