In the bustling SUV market, where choices abound, the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage stands out as a unique offering, blending nostalgia with modern performance. Priced at around $46,400, just above the average cost of a new car, this compact SUV competes in a segment filled with various contenders, from larger Jeep Wranglers to more laid-back off-road options like the Subaru Outback and Crosstrek Wilderness. Ford believes that the Bronco Sport Heritage is a worthy investment, and we’re here to explore why.
Design That Captures the Essence
The first thing that strikes you about the Bronco Sport Heritage is its captivating design. If the benchmark is its ability to capture the essence of the larger Bronco and scale it down effectively, then Ford has undoubtedly succeeded. The front grille closely resembles that of the Bronco, and the well-placed fender flares contribute to the SUV’s robust stance. The Heritage edition incorporates several nostalgic touches, including pastel yellow paint, retro-look white wheels with all-terrain tires, vintage badging, and badge color variations depending on the base color you choose. Inside, Ford has equipped all Heritage models with a faux leather interior featuring patterns reminiscent of plaid seats from vintage Broncos. A unique touch is the numbered plaque behind the cupholders, reminding you of the exclusivity of your vehicle.
The Bronco Sport Heritage’s distinctive appearance sets it apart in its price range. It’s a rare find to come across a vehicle in this segment that stands out so boldly on the road, making the Heritage Edition an enticing choice for those seeking a unique look.
The interior of the Bronco Sport, much like its larger sibling, presents a mix of positives and negatives. Some elements work exceptionally well, such as the MOLLE-compatible seatback straps and zippered seatback pockets, catering to adventure enthusiasts. The center stack boasts user-friendly physical controls that can be operated without much effort, and the smaller, less obtrusive screen in the Bronco Sport is preferable to the larger screens found in other Ford models like the F-150 and Mach-E.
However, for each commendable aspect, there’s a counterpoint. While the infotainment system functions smoothly, the sound system lacks depth and richness. The cabin features numerous low-quality materials that detract from the overall experience. The door cards, for instance, feel more suited for a model airplane, and the seat material, despite its intriguing appearance in Heritage trim, can be uncomfortably hot to sit on. These shortcomings notwithstanding, the Bronco Sport effectively channels the spirit of its larger counterpart, a quality that more luxurious competitors may lack.
One of the main attractions of higher-tier Bronco models is their selectable 4WD and GOAT (Go Over Any Terrain) modes, making the Bronco Sport one of the most capable off-roaders in its price range. However, it’s worth noting that you can also purchase a larger, more off-road-oriented Jeep Wrangler for a similar price, which may give you pause.
Setting that aside, the Bronco Sport excels off-road, aided by its all-terrain tires that provide ample grip. The suspension keeps passengers reasonably comfortable even on rough terrain. However, there’s room for improvement in the approach and departure angles, as some trails still pose challenges, and avoiding damage to the lower fascias requires caution. On the bright side, the Bronco Sport features sturdy tow points, a helpful feature when you find yourself in a tricky situation.
Ford includes some of the big Bronco’s off-road features, such as hill descent control and manual adjustment of electronically locking differentials, setting it apart in its segment. On-road, the Bronco Sport maintains a smooth and quiet demeanor, offering a comfortable respite from the outside world. Although the transmission may occasionally hunt for gears, a common complaint in this segment, the Bronco Sport’s turbocharged torque (250 hp, 277 lb-ft) aids in passing with ease.
Ford has succeeded in making the Bronco Sport highly adaptable for everyday situations. The cargo area is exceptionally customizable, with the $150 cargo organizer being a must-have accessory. It can be removed, locked in place, and even deployed as a work surface inside the rear hatch, thanks to small legs. Two pivoting LEDs provide light when the liftgate is up. Heritage models and others come with seatback protection, making it suitable for family adventures.
However, there are a few downsides to consider. Fuel economy is relatively poor, with 25 mpg falling short of modern SUV standards. The seats, although comfortable, lack adequate support in the lower half, which can lead to an uncomfortable driving posture. Additionally, the Bronco lineup’s structure presents a dilemma, as there are more affordable Broncos available that offer similar features without the Heritage Edition’s nostalgic aesthetics.
In summary, the Bronco Sport successfully combines off-road capability with on-road civility. While it may not be the most fuel-efficient SUV, its adaptable cargo area and user-friendly features enhance its daily usability. Despite some material quality concerns in the interior, the Bronco Sport’s unique look and off-road prowess make it a compelling choice for those who appreciate its distinctiveness in a crowded market segment.
- Smooth and quiet ride
- Impressive off-road capabilities
- Distinctive appearance sets it apart
- Relatively poor fuel economy
- Interior materials leave room for improvement
- Approach and departure angles could be better