The recently released Ford Bronco Sport brings rugged capability and adventure styling to the popular compact SUV segment. With its heritage Bronco nameplate and impressive off-road hardware, this new model aims to be a segment disrupter. But with multiple configurations available, an important question is – does the Bronco Sport have true four-wheel drive?
In this detailed review, we’ll examine the Bronco Sport’s powertrain, hardware, trim levels, pricing, and capabilities. Let’s find out if this right-sized SUV can deliver real 4×4 performance.
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Overview of the New Ford Bronco Sport
The Bronco Sport debuted for the 2021 model year as an all-new entry targeted at active lifestyle buyers. As Ford’s smaller crossover SUV, the Bronco Sport delivers rugged looks and off-road talent in a more affordable and maneuverable package compared to the larger Bronco.
Sharing a platform with the Ford Escape, the Bronco Sport aims to split the difference between a typical compact ute like the Escape and genuine 4x4s like Jeep’s Wrangler and Cherokee. With standard all-wheel drive on higher trims and impressive approach/departure angles, the Bronco Sport brings welcome off-road cred to the segment.
Ford offers the Bronco Sport in five main trim levels:
- Big Bend
- Outer Banks
- Wildtrak (coming later)
Two turbocharged EcoBoost engine options are available: a 1.5L turbo 3-cylinder or 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder. You can pair these motors with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive depending on trim and options. The Bronco Sport provides a lot of flexibility for on-road cruising or off-road adventuring.
Does the Bronco Sport Have 4-Wheel Drive?
This is an important question – the Bronco Sport is available with four-wheel drive, but it depends on which model you choose. Here’s a breakdown of which Bronco Sport trims come standard with 4WD versus front-wheel drive:
- Base – Front-wheel drive standard. Four-wheel drive optional.
- Big Bend – Front-wheel drive standard. Four-wheel drive optional for added cost.
- Outer Banks – Front-wheel drive standard again. Four-wheel drive remains optional.
- Badlands – Four-wheel drive comes standard on this trim, which is the most off-road oriented version.
- Wildtrak – Four-wheel drive will likely be standard when this model debuts.
So while four-wheel drive is not standard across the board, it is available on every Bronco Sport trim either as an option or as included equipment depending on model. Overall, you can get the 4×4 capabilities on any Bronco Sport you want, but it will cost extra on lower trims.
Bronco Sport 4WD System and Off-Road Hardware
On four-wheel drive equipped models, the Bronco Sport utilizes a sophisticated 4WD system to deliver enhanced traction. Here are some key components and features:
Four-wheel drive system with 2WD/4WD selector: The Bronco Sport uses a traditional four-wheel drive setup with a transfer case. This allows shifting from rear-wheel drive for regular driving to four-wheel drive for low traction conditions. A control dial gives access to 2H, 4H, and 4L modes.
Solid rear axle: Unlike many crossovers, the Bronco Sport employs a rugged solid rear axle design preferred for off-road performance. This improves articulation over uneven terrain.
Terrain Management System: Higher trim Bronco Sports have a Terrain Management System with selectable modes for different conditions like Mud/Ruts. This tweaks various systems for optimal traction.
Upgraded suspension, tires, and underbody protection: The off-road focused Badlands trim boasts more aggressive suspension, all-terrain tires, bash plates and protective elements like skid plates.
While not as hardcore as a Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco Sport 4WD models contain excellent hardware for confident trail driving. Overall, Ford designed the SUV with legitimate off-road credentials instead of just superficial styling.
Bronco Sport Powertrain and Performance
The standard engine for Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks Bronco Sport models is a 1.5L EcoBoost turbocharged 3-cylinder. It puts out a respectable 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque.
Badlands and Wildtrak versions utilize an upgraded 2.0L EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder. This motor generates 245 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, providing especially lively performance.
Both engines utilize an 8-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. Fuel economy varies, but it’s generally considered to be subpar for its class.
Properly equipped Bronco Sports can tow up to 2,200 pounds (unconfirmed). This allows hauling small trailers, boats, ATVs, and more. Overall, the powertrain provides a great blend of power, efficiency, and light trailering duties.
Overview of Bronco Sport Trims
Ford offers the new Bronco Sport in a range of trim levels catering to different priorities and budgets. Here’s a closer look at each version:
Bronco Sport Base
The Base Bronco Sport starts around $28,910 and comes standard with four-wheel drive and the 1.5L EcoBoost engine. Even in base form, the SUV includes an 8-inch touchscreen, Ford Co-Pilot360 safety tech, and seating for five. It focuses on value while still delivering Bronco Sport style.
Bronco Sport Big Bend
Priced from around $31,230, the Big Bend adds nicer wheels, more exterior chrome trim, and four-wheel drive. With a balance of capability and value, the Big Bend is a popular pick for adventurers not needing ultimate off-road performance.
Bronco Sport Outer Banks
As the luxury-oriented model, the Outer Banks starts around $35,915 and comes with premium features like leather seats, a power tailgate, and upscale audio. It retains four-wheel drive as an option for some trail driving ability. The Outer Banks focuses more on on-road refinement.
Bronco Sport Badlands
The Badlands kicks the off-road readiness up several notches. Starting around $38,390, the Badlands comes standard with the 2.0L engine, four-wheel drive, and heavy-duty trail parts. With nearly 9-inches of ground clearance, special drive modes, and aggressive styling, this is the most dirt-oriented Bronco Sport.
Bronco Sport Wildtrak
The Wildtrak trim joins the lineup later as the most extreme Bronco Sport. Expect standard 4WD, performance upgrades, and distinctive styling when this model debuts.
In summary, the Bronco Sport family accommodates budgets from under $30,000 up to $40,000+ while offering models tailored to varying degrees of off-road performance. There’s a Bronco Sport for nearly every buyer.
Off-Road Credentials of the Bronco Sport
While not a Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco Sport still packs impressive off-road talents – especially in higher trims. Here are some standout hardware and capabilities:
High ground clearance
Up to 8.8 inches of clearance on the Bronco Sport Badlands allows traversing rutted or rocky trails.
Short front/rear overhangs
With less front and rear overhang than typical crossovers, the Bronco Sport can more easily clear obstacles and steep inclines without scraping.
Protected underbody components
Bash plates, skid plates, and shields give vulnerable parts like the engine added protection from debris and impacts.
Adaptive off-road systems
In advanced GOAT modes (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain), the Bronco Sport adapts its 4WD system, throttle mapping, gear selection, and more for optimal traction.
Acting like a low-speed cruise control, Trail Control allows the driver to focus on steering over challenging terrain while the Bronco Sport maintains a set speed.
Overall, smart engineering like these elements give the Bronco Sport legitimate off-road capabilities beyond the typical cute ute. While optimal for lighter trail duty, the Bronco Sport Badlands can still handle demanding routes that leave other crossovers behind.
Towing and Cargo Capacity
In addition to its off-road talents, the Bronco Sport can manage moderate towing and hauling tasks. With a maximum 2,200 pound tow rating, properly equipped Bronco Sports can tow small trailers, boats, ATVs, and more toys to the local boat launch or trailhead.
For cargo, rear passenger space is a bit tight but there’s abundant room for gear. Behind the second row seats, there’s a respectable 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold those seats down and you unlock 65.2 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume.
Smart cargo options include an available slide-out tailgate section that makes loading easier, plus rubberized flooring with built-in drains. With the rear seats folded flat, the Bronco Sport can swallow two mountain bikes upright. Overall cargo abilities meet the needs of weekend warriors and outdoor enthusiasts well.
Key Takeaways: Is the Ford Bronco Sport 4×4?
To summarize this in-depth look at Ford’s new Bronco Sport:
- The Bronco Sport can be equipped with true four-wheel drive on any trim level – either as standard equipment or a available option.
- Sophisticated hardware like the 4WD/2WD transfer case, selectable drive modes, and rugged components enable legitimate off-road performance.
- Higher trim Bronco Sports gain bonus trail tools like front cameras, bash plates, aggressive tires and adaptive drive modes to further boost capability.
- Available turbocharged engines, max towing over 2,000 pounds, and generous cargo room add everyday utility to the Bronco Sport’s resume.
While falling short of the extreme rock crawling talents of a Jeep Wrangler, the properly equipped Bronco Sport still delivers greater off-road talent than the typical compact crossover SUV. For buyers seeking right-sized utility plus adventure styling and real trail-tackling chops, the new Bronco Sport is very compelling.
In the growing compact SUV segment, the Bronco Sport stands out with its 4×4 offerings, smart design and blend of on-road manners with off-road agility. The Bronco Sport name is more than just marketing – this small SUV can genuinely back it up when the pavement ends.
With the combination of 4WD capability, protective trail hardware, adaptive systems and powerful drivetrains, the Bronco Sport has credentials to handle off-road adventures beyond most compact SUVs. While optimal for light to moderate trail duty, versions like the Bronco Sport Badlands bring unexpected capability to the class.
No SUV can satisfy every extreme 4×4 fanatic – but for the majority of buyers wanting an adventure-ready yet practical daily driver, the Bronco Sport checks a lot of boxes. Its packaging, performance and well-rounded character make Ford’s plucky compact SUV compelling for new car shoppers.
So for those wondering “is the Ford Bronco Sport 4×4?” – the answer is a definitive yes. When properly equipped, the Bronco Sport delivers legitimate four-wheel drive abilities worthy of this iconic nameplate.