2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Edition

The Heritage Edition adds some decent retro character and a few extra features.
The Heritage Edition adds some decent retro character and a few extra features.

by Nathan Leipsig | June 22, 2023

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I wasn’t the biggest fan of the little Bronco Sport when it was first announced. I thought it was a cynical marketing gimmick, leeching off the retro-badass style of the big Bronco to sell more generic crossovers to posers. In the years since, I’ve come to appreciate the Bronco Sport for its personality, for being deliberately different from the anonymous used soap-bar style of every other compact crossover. It helps that by all accounts, it’s been imbued with some fairly impressive all terrain chops, so the use of the bucking Bronco badge on what is essentially an angular Escape isn’t entirely in vain. But just when I was coming around to it, the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Edition fell into my lap to test my cynicism again.

The new Heritage Edition, which debuts this year on both the (little) Bronco Sport and (big) Bronco, adds a number of throwback touches, to celebrate the Bronco’s… thirty-seventh anniversary. Said touches include unique paint choices and lots of white accents, the most contentious of which is a white grille with red B R O N C O lettering. I like everything except the grille, which I can not stand. Our tester’s Hot Pepper Red paint looks great, I love the white steelie wheels and the white roof. I like the pinstriping with classic Bronco script, but that white grille absolutely ruins it for me.

There are more white accents inside, which come as part of the Heritage Edition’s unique Navy Pier interior color scheme. It dresses up the Bronco Sport’s cabin with dark blue cloth and plaid seat inserts, along with dark blue on the doors and center console, with red stitching for a little extra pop. These touches compliment the retro theme well without being too in-your-face, unlike the Bronco Sport’s masquerade theme-party face. 

Mechanically, the Heritage Edition is more or less on equal footing with the Big Bend trim, save for the addition of Continental off-road tires, and a tow hitch. This means it uses the same 1.5-Liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, routed through the same 8-speed automatic through all four wheels, augmented by Ford’s G.O.A.T Mode terrain selector. It feels a little limp wristed on the highway, but does fine around town, and I kind of like that it’s not the quietest engine; Ford could have made it more hushed, but decided to lean into the quirky character of a three-pot motor and made it sound more chunky than it actually is; it suits the character of the Bronco Sport.

They’ve made the same conscious decision with the chassis calibration as well, as they’ve fairly deliberately decided to lean into a truck-like ride and feel. It’s firm and a little on the bouncy side, with the meatier tires transmitting a fair bit more road feel, in ways good and bad. It helps meaningfully differentiate the more athletic Bronco Sport from the more mainstream Escape; I personally like that Ford has opted for more character rather than more NVH reduction like everybody else, and it handles surprisingly well, with very little body roll in cornering.

This is not to say the Bronco Sport is a rough and tumble beast, it just has a healthy sprinkling of that as a garnish. Wind and road noise are well hushed, and the powertrain combo is generally seamless in its operation, save for some fairly lethargic upshifts and full tilt. Steering is dull on center but weights up nicely, throttle response is perky, and the brakes are delightfully firm and reassuring. It’s a fairly satisfying, confidence inspiring thing to pilot, and manages to avoid being a bore.

All in all, everything that was already good about the Bronco Sport is still good, and the Heritage Edition adds some decent retro character and a few extra features for $41,899; three grand on top of the Big Bend. Our tester included Ford’s comprehensive Co-Pilot 360 Assist, a moonroof, and a convenience package with a wireless charger and parking sensors, bringing our sticker up to $45,944. It’s a bit of a tall order for a compact crossover that still has cloth seats, but then again, the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Edition has got more adventurous spirit and charm than just about anything else in its class, and that’s worth something… if you can get over that white grille.

See Also:

2023 Ford Bronco Badlands

2023 Honda CR-V EX-L

2023 Toyota RAV4 Woodland Edition

Vehicle Specs
Segment
Subcompact Crossover
Engine Size
1.5L turbocharged inline-three
Horsepower (at RPM)
181 at 6,000
Torque (lb-ft.)
190 at 3,000
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
9.3/8.4/8.9
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
9.2
Cargo Capacity (in L)
920
Base Price (CAD)
$38,899
As-Tested Price (CAD)
$45,944
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About Nathan Leipsig

Deputy Editor Nathan is a passionate enthusiast with a penchant for finding 80s and 90s European vehicles. He can typically be found messing about on his E28 5-series or on Kijiji looking for the next project. Current Toys: '78 928, '23 MX-5 GS-P, '95 XJR, '86 535i, '99 New Beetle GLS 5MT
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