Ford made quite a splash last year when they brought back the Bronco; a cool body on frame off-roader with retro modern styling everyone fell in love with. But they didn’t stop there and took that same fun retro off-road styling and wrapping up a compact crossover on the same unibody platform as the Escape and Maverick. We spent a week with the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands to see how this kinder and gentler Bronco fares in the compact SUV space.
Though not as aggressive looking as its body on frame sibling, the Bronco Sport still pulls off the retro off-road look extremely well. From the big bold white lettering on its grill to the contrast colored roof and boxy shape it stands out and is instantly recognizable as part of the Bronco family. Decked out in Cactus Grey paint, metal bash plates and sporting the optional 17-inch carbonized grey low gloss wheels wrapped in all terrain tires, our Badlands tester certainly looks ready to tackle the wilderness.
The interior is well laid out, both functional and comfortable. Dark bronze accents and a large power moonroof brighten up the cabin. Our tester is equipped with the Premium package which includes power leather seats with ultrasuede accents, remote start, a heated steering wheel, and wireless mobile device charger. Aside from being attractive in shades of light brown the seats are plush and comfortable. The seat backs have a zippered pocket and the “MOLLE strap system” an array of webbing for storage and quick access to all manner of tools and equipment for an outdoor outing.
Also part of the premium package is the 10 Speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with subwoofer which really lets you crank up the volume. It’s driven by the standard 8-inch LCD touchscreen running the excellent Sync 3 system. We found the built in Navigation a breeze to operate but you can also opt to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay with a USB connection.
As you enter the vehicle a full color animation plays on both the Center stack and 6.5-inch gauge cluster display which makes for a fun start to every journey. Flanking the gauge cluster display are a physical analog speedometer and tachometer, a refreshing sight and perfect for the retro modern theme. The Bronco Sport has plenty of headroom and cargo space with its 822-litre trunk area. To add extra utility the rear window can be opened from the outside for quick access without having to open the entire liftgate. Rubberized seat backs and floor are provided for protection and easy cleanup.
Though it may not be as off-road capable as its big brother, the Bronco Sport is no slouch especially in the Badlands trim. Using the Terrain Management System (TMS) dial, drivers can select G.O.A.T. (goes over any terrain) modes – sand, slippery, sport, eco, and normal. The Badlands has a more advanced 4×4 system with a twin-clutch rear drive unit which allows for two additional modes for more severe off-roading; Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl. The Bronco Sport transmission also uses a dial for gear selection placed directly in front of the TMS dial which can cause some confusion when trying to shift quickly.
The Badlands’ suspension is tuned for extra comfort for traversing rough terrain be off-road or poorly maintained roads of your daily commute. It has hydraulic rebound stops on the front struts and 46mm rear monotube shocks, along with softer springs and anti-roll bars for greater independent wheel travel when traversing obstacles. We found the setup to be quite comfortable driving around the city and its numerous construction zones. There is some body roll when cornering aggressively but not enough to be problematic.
Powered by a 2.0-liter engine over the standard 1.5-liter mill, the Badlands makes 250 horsepower at 5,500RPM, and 277 lb-ft. of torque at 3,000RPM. In Sport mode the Bronco Sport feels quicker than the numbers suggest with lots of low end grunt that keeps on pulling with quick upshifts. The power plant is surprisingly fuel efficient, rated at 11.1L/100KM city, 9.0 highway, and 10.2 combined. Doing mostly city driving we managed 11.4L/100KM.
The base 1.5-liter Bronco Sport starts at $35,999, while the Badlands starts at $46,149. The Premium package is an additional $2,900, and our tester rings in at $52,594. In the crowded segment of compact crossovers the Bronco Sport stands out with its fun retro styling, comfortable ride, and enough genuine off-road capability for all but the most hardcore off-road enthusiast. We enjoyed the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands and think it deserves a close look if you are shopping for a new compact SUV.