More than capable. While the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport shares its name with the larger, more expensive, more capable, and more powerful Bronco, the baby Bronco isn’t a true rock-crawler. The Bronco Sport shares the same platform and a lot of the same components as the Escape. While that makes it sound like a compact SUV that can’t go off-roading, that’s not the case.

The Bronco Sport isn’t as capable off-road as the Bronco, but it still has more off-roading capability than the majority of compact SUVs on the market. The rugged Badlands trim offers up to 7.9 inches of ground clearance and a water fording depth of 17.7 inches. Opting for optional all-terrain off-road tires increases ground clearance to 8.8 inches and water-fording depth to 23.6 inches.

In addition to being relatively high off the ground, the Badlands trim also comes with an upgraded four-wheel-drive system, a twin-clutch rear differential, trail control (off-road cruise control), a forward-looking 180-degree camera, underbody skid plates, front tow hooks, and off-road suspension. These features give the Bronco Sport more than enough off-roading capability to hit some serious trails. Additionally, with underfloor storage and rubberized flooring, Ford’s thought about all of your gear that will get dirty on an off-road excursion, too.

Having taken the Bronco Sport off-roading, we can confirm that the SUV is ready to put up a serious fight against the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk.

Safety is a priority. Ford offers its Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features as standard equipment. The suite includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Other standard safety features include pedestrian detection and automatic high-beam assist. The Big Bend trim is available with Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ for an additional $895 that brings adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, and traffic sign recognition.

In addition to coming with an impressive list of safety features, the Bronco Sport has great crash-test scores. The compact SUV earned a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. The IIHS hasn’t tested the 2022 model year yet, but the IIHS gave the 2021 Bronco Sport a Top Safety Pick+ award. We expect the award to carry over for the 2022 model year.

Quick, not efficient. The Bronco Sport is available with two turbocharged engines. The base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks trims come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. It’s rated at 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. The engine is plenty powerful for daily use but isn’t exactly peppy.

The available turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is a much better engine, producing 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. The four-cylinder feels much stouter, offering muscular performance, especially for overtaking and off-roading.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines. Shifts are jerky at low speeds and the transmission can be slow to shift at times. Fuel economy isn’t stellar with either engine, as the three-cylinder can get up to 26 mpg combined, while the four-cylinder is rated at up to 23 mpg combined.

With its upgraded suspension, the Badlands trim’s ride is rough and uneven, translating small road imperfections to the cabin. Other Bronco Sport trims have smoother rides and offer better handling around corners.

Style-forward. Featuring elements from the midsize Bronco, the compact Bronco Sport has a bold design. The squared-off body doesn’t look like other compact SUVs on the market with retro cues for some added flair. The way “BRONCO” is written on the front grille, chunky fenders, black roof, and “BRONCO” on the liftgate all point to the Bronco Sport’s inspiration from its larger stablemate. It’s a great design that draws attention on the road.

On the inside, the Bronco Sport has an attractive interior design and useful features but is too focused on being rugged to be comfortable. The Bronco Sport has lackluster plastics that are meant to be durable and hosed off after tackling some mud. The straightforward, plastic buttons make the Bronco Sport feel like a truck instead of an upscale SUV. Consumers interested in going off-roading will appreciate the simple design and durable materials, but compared to other SUVs in the class, the Bronco Sport doesn’t feel nearly as upscale.

The Bronco Sport’s seats aren't that comfortable. They lack the necessary support for long drives or corners, while the rear seats have less space than the majority of its rivals. With 36.9 inches of rear legroom, the Bronco Sport has less space than the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, and Honda CR-V. Thanks to its boxy design, the Bronco Sport’s 41.7 inches of rear headroom is spacious for the class.

Cargo capacity is average for the segment, as the Bronco Sport offers up to 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space and a total of 65.2 cubic feet of space. The rear window can be opened independently of the liftgate, letting some fresh air into the cabin or making it easy to stow small items in the rear.

Final thoughts. It’s easy to write the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport off because of the larger Bronco, but it has its own distinct personality to stand out in the compact segment. The Bronco Sport isn’t for everyone, as its off-roading-heavy nature makes it less comfortable and upscale than other options. Still, the Bronco Sport comes with impressive safety features, has a rugged design, offers serious off-roading capability, and has a punchy four-cylinder engine.

The Mazda CX-5 is the obvious choice for consumers wanting something sporty and upscale. It has a high-end design, a powerful turbocharged engine, and sharp handling. The Hyundai Tucson doesn’t have the same off-roading prowess as the Bronco Sport, but is offered with more tech features, has a bold design, is available with electrified powertrains, and has a smooth ride.

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