Ford Bronco vs. Ford Bronco Sport: Which Bronco Is Right for You?
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John’s focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of an academic team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of the battery thermal control designer. After earning his engineering degree, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University. For 20 years, he applied his engineering and sales talents in the worlds of semiconductor manufacturing, biopharmaceutical production, and automotive electronics supply chain. Always a writer, John has published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to online publications such as Car Talk, John’s work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers, and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites.
More importantly, the product line is so broad, anyone seeking a two-row SUV with serious off-road capability should have no problem finding the right fit.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Ford Broncos and Ford Bronco Sport?
- Ford Bronco vs. Ford Bronco Sport Comparison
- The Tale of the Tape
- Bronco Sport Powertrains
- Bronco Powertrains
- Bronco Sport vs. Bronco - Our Way Of Seeing These Two Great Vehicles
- Car Research & Comparisons
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Ford Broncos and Ford Bronco Sport?
The Takeaway: The Bronco name applies to a broad line of vehicles.
The Bronco Sport is a two-row SUV derived from the same underpinnings as some of Ford’s crossover SUVs. If that turns you off to the Bronco Sport, it’s a shame. This is a rugged vehicle that has amazing off-road capabilities and on-road driving satisfaction that the Bronco cannot match. All Bronco Sports are two-row, five-passenger SUVs, and all are hardtops.
The Bronco is two vehicles. First, a compact two-door body-on-frame SUV that seats four. Second, a four-door five-passenger SUV. The Bronco line features removable panels, doors, and roofs, as well as some neat convertible options. If you know what a Jeep Wrangler is and how it can be used, you have the right idea about the Bronco as well.
Ford Bronco vs. Ford Bronco Sport Comparison
|Model||Interior Passenger Volume||Cargo Volume Behind 1st Row||Length - Width Without / With Mirrors||Height of Tallest Trim||Footprint Without Mirrors|
|Bronco 2-Door Hard Top|
|Bronco 4-Door Hard Top|
The Tale of the Tape
If you heard that the Bronco Sport was the “baby Bronco,” you heard wrong. The fact is, the Bronco two-door is the smaller vehicle in pretty much every regard. The Bronco Sport has more interior volume, more cargo volume, seats an extra passenger, and is taller than the Bronco two-door.
The Bronco four-door may look larger than the Bronco Sport, but inside, the Bronco Sport has more passenger volume. The Bronco four-door has a bit more total cargo volume, but that is with the rear seats dropped.
The Takeaway: If you want the “big Bronco,” the true place to start is the Bronco Sport.
Bronco Sport Powertrains
The Bronco Sport comes with either a three or four-cylinder turbocharged engine. We tested the larger four-cylinder and found that it was a perfect match for the vehicle. The Bronco Sport also uses a geared automatic transmission. No rubber-bandy CVTs are used on any trim.
Every Bronco Sport is also a 4X4 (which we will add is actually all-wheel drive). The larger engine is accompanied by a 4X4 system with liquid-cooled PTU, disconnectable driveshaft with 4x4 lock, and dual-clutch RDU with differential lock feature. Add to that selectable drive modes such as Normal, ECO, Sport, Slippery, Mud/Ruts, Sand, Rock Crawl. Choose a trim with 29-inch tires and 8.8-inches of ground clearance, and if you can find a road this vehicle cannot handle, we will be shocked. All-terrain tires with the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol indicating the tires are snow rated are optional and standard on top trims.
The Bronco is offered with either a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a 2.7-liter V6 turbocharged engine. With a maximum 415 lb-ft of torque available, the Bronco pulls like a train. A seven-speed manual transmission is available with the four-banger, and a 10-speed geared auto is available and standard with the V6. We tested the 2.7-liter V6, and it felt powerful and exciting to drive in all situations.
The Bronco offers two 4X4 setups. Forgive us if we crib a bit from Ford’s technical specs page so as not to miss any details. Advanced four-wheel-drive technologies are the core of the Bronco’s off-road capabilities. At the heart of it all is the Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. Modes, designed to help drivers better navigate any type of terrain. There are seven driver-selectable modes are offered, including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, with Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl for off-road driving.
Two 4x4 systems are offered. The “base” system uses a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case, and an optional advanced system that features a two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode for on-demand engagement to select between 2H and 4H. Power is distributed to a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid rear axle and Dana AdvanTEK independent front differential unit – both with available Spicer Performa-TraK electronic locking differentials for improved traction over rough terrain in models equipped for maximum capability.
The Takeaway: Ford offers powerful and torquey engines with real geared transmissions. If you want a manual, the Bronco is the choice, but you can’t get it with the most powerful engine.
We found the infotainment systems in both the Bronco and Bronco Sport to be very simple to operate. Both feature Android Auto and Apple Car Play capability, and both use touch screens.
We really liked how Ford used the top of the dash to neatly arrange the many off-road buttons in the Bronco.
This seemed much more intuitive than the Wrangler’s mess of levers, pulleys, and buttons. That said, Wrangler owners love learning how to make the systems work.
Don’t be surprised when we tell you that the Bronco Sport has earned the very highest safety rating possible in America, the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus designation.
Ford knows how to make safe vehicles, and the Bronco Sport aced every single test. The Bronco has not been tested yet.
The Takeaway: Ford’s Bronco Sport is among the most highly-rated SUVs for safety available.
Bronco Sport vs. Bronco - Our Way Of Seeing These Two Great Vehicles
During our testing of both the Bronco and Bronco Sport, we came to regard them as different vehicles with a lot of overlapping capabilities. The Bronco Sport would be our hands-down choice if most of our driving was to be done on-road. There is simply no “Road” on which the Bronco could top the Bronco Sport.
On the other hand, if we were buying a recreational vehicle to use primarily off-road, the Bronco is a choice. And in our opinion, the two-door Bronco makes the most sense. In the Northeast, off-road areas have trees and obstacles you may want to steer among and in between. Unless your off-road trail is hard-packed dessert, the smaller Bronco two-door seems to us to be more sensible. But if hard-packed open terrain is your preferred playground, why not a Ford Raptor? Ford offers so many choices, which is best is really a personal decision.
The Takeaway: If you want an off-road capable vehicle, Ford has many great choices.
Current Ford Bronco Deals & Incentives
|Year||Make||Model||Cash Incentives (up to)||Best Avail. APR||Lease Offers||Expiration|
|2021||Ford||Bronco||$292/month for 48 months, $3,292 due at signing||11/30/2021|
Current Ford Bronco Sport Deals & Incentives
|Year||Make||Model||Cash Incentives (up to)||Best Avail. APR||Lease Offers||Expiration|
|2021||Ford||Bronco Sport||$500||5.90%||$335/month for 39 months, $3,206 due at signing||11/30/2021|
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is larger, the Bronco Sport or the Bronco?
The Bronco Sport is larger inside than the two-door Bronco and has more passenger volume than the Bronco four-door.
Does the Bronco Sport have a removable top?
No, but the Bronco two-door and Bronco four-door models do. The Bronco Sport has an optional moonroof.
Can you buy a hardtop Bronco?
Yes. The Bronco has a wide variety of hardtop and soft-top options. Fun fact: The soft-top material is made in the U.S. by Massachusetts-based Haartz Corporation.
Did the Ford Bronco Sport pass its crash test?
Yes, the Bronco Sport did pass all of its safety tests with flying colors. The Bronco Sport has earned the Top Safety Pick Plus award from IIHS.