2022 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks – Home » 2022 Ford Bronco Sport Exterior Banks is a modern crossover that could use a little more fine-tuning.
The 2022 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks is a modern crossover that could use a little more fine-tuning.
2022 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks
Imagine how difficult life would be if your parents named you Beyoncé. Those are the mononymous shoes the Ford Bronco Sport has to fill. While the big Bronco is an all-American off-road icon that gets people going, the Bronco Sport was born to be soft. It’s more about looking stylish in the Target parking lot than crossing Hell’s Revenge. So how well does the Bronco Sport combine on-road refinement with good looks? I borrowed Outer Banks Trim to find out.
Used 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks 1.5l 4×4 / 8 Spd Auto / Sync3 / Rearview For Sale ($41,695)[Full disclosure: Ford let me borrow this Bronco Sport outboard for a week while I returned it with a full tank of gas and wrote an article about it.]
Considering how the Bronco Sport is based on the Escape, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that things are the same under the skin. All Bronco Sport models except the top Badlands trim get Ford’s 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine. It’s a little three-cylinder lump that’s turbocharged to produce 181 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 190 lb.-ft. torque at 3000 rpm. Mated to an eight-speed automatic and driving all four wheels via a reactive all-wheel drive system, this bike is a bit unique. In terms of power, it’s exactly the same as the larger naturally aspirated engines in the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4, but has a significantly earlier torque peak.
Three-cylinder engines aren’t known for being quiet, so it’s surprising to see the Bronco Sport’s relative lack of engine isolation. No felt blanket on the hood, no engine cover, some felt on the firewall and that’s it. Then again, Ford is notorious for not covering engines in transverse applications, so it’s really the same.
The Bronco Sport gets special dampers compared to the Escape, but the suspension components are largely the same and therefore largely superior. The rear suspension arms are simple and stamped, the tapered rear coil springs sit well on board, and suspension-wise everything looks pretty good in theory. There’s nothing revolutionary here, just MacPherson struts up front and a relatively simple independent rear suspension, but this is a compact crossover for the mass market, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. Sometimes simplicity is key, and Ford hasn’t made the Bronco Sport’s suspension any more complicated than necessary.
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A closer look at the underside reveals some curious details. Clearance is hampered by plastic air deflectors in front of each wheel arch, though these seem fairly easy to remove. Simple hex hardware appears to hold the front deflectors in place while the rear is attached using a combination of hex hardware and clamps.
When it comes to taking a closer look inside the rear fender arches, some interesting solutions stand out. The first is a slightly patchy paint application to the rear chassis rails, a somewhat interesting omission. While a bit of exposed primer isn’t the end of the world in some areas of the vehicle, the rear chassis rails seem particularly vulnerable to chips that are inside their rear wheels.
The second is a little more obvious in terms of corrosion potential. The rear wheel arch liners on my test vehicle did not fit very snugly around the lower front edge of the wheel arches. The area behind the arch liner appears to be a fairly large slush trap in winter conditions and raises some questions as to whether the arch liner construction may accelerate corrosion.
While the Bronco Sport draws heavily from the Bronco styling of the 1960s, the silhouette and proportions are reminiscent of another previous Ford product: the first-generation Escape. What we have here is a sleek compact crossover with soft edges and unpainted bumpers, rugged enough elements to look active without being overbearing.
Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks Edition
Let’s start with the square silhouette. I don’t like a step roof, and the Bronco Sport didn’t disappoint here. Best of all, it perfectly complements the stepped line to give this small family crossover a pleasingly tall appearance. Added to this is the use of solid unpainted plastic cladding, which increases the visual height of the car. While the bare skin is a bit of a play in the compact crossover segment, it fits the Bronco Sport’s aesthetic really well.
Things look good from the back, with well-detailed taillights, a separate opening rear window and a scratch-free rear bumper for loading and unloading heavy loads. The back may be a little plain, but it’s pleasantly elegant and utilitarian. Good job there.
However, the Bronco has a bit of a mess on the front end when it comes to surfaces and materials. The prominent painted panels below the headlights collide with the sharp line of the hood, while the central grille looks like an afterthought. Add in a gloss black grille and unpainted lower bumper and there’s a lot going on. Still, the front end isn’t enough to kill the Bronco Sport’s design. Sure, the surface is a bit odd and the center grille isn’t cohesive enough for my taste, but the overall design of the Bronco Sport works very well.
Despite being a compact crossover, the Ford Bronco Sport is quite large. Clearly, Ford’s engineers and stylists have worked hard to play up the SUV heritage image, as the baby Bronco combines old-school looks with plenty of body movement. Thanks to the boxy, contoured hood, the view through the windshield is quite commanding and really a bit silly. You can rent the space between the valve cover and hood as a modest studio apartment for $1,600 a month, so the dual hood bulges look like pure posturing. Combine that with a rearview mirror that’s too small for the rear window and large C-pillars, and the Bronco Sport doesn’t have the outward visibility of a Hyundai Tucson or Nissan Rogue. Oh, the price of vanity.
Ford Bronco Sport
Three-cylinder engines are inherently unbalanced, so I’m very grateful for the automatic stop-start system that prevents the Bronco Sport from feeling like a cheap motel bed when you’re sitting at a stoplight. However, once under way, it only takes yards to realize that the 1.5-litre EcoBoost is a bit of a gem of an ordinary engine. The torque band is wide and reasonably strong, peaking at 3,000rpm to give a big naturally aspirated feel. Sure, the Bronco Sport isn’t fast, but it never feels strained by its 3,467-pound curb weight or the huge expectations that come with the Bronco name in daily driving. The engine produces 181bhp at just 6,000rpm, but putting your foot on the carpet creates a distinctive thud, a nice celebration of internal combustion in an age of low noise.
In fact, the only thing keeping the turbocharged triple is the eight-speed automatic programming in Normal Drive mode. The gearbox takes an absolute age to pick up speed after a spot of hard acceleration and is prone to jerky shifts, especially in 1-2 shifts under moderate acceleration. Also, put the rotary selector into reverse and you can smoke the brisket before the reverse gear actually engages. Things are much quicker and smoother in Sport mode, which could be called “more everything mode” if the shifters were engaged to command previous upshifts. While having five drive modes is a great marketing feat, I would have preferred it if Ford had focused on creating one really good drive mode instead of several imperfect ones.
Fortunately, in addition to the character of the engine, there is also a positive side to the drivetrain. Sure, the automatic transmission can feel as clumsy as breakdancing in traffic, and the idle is 40-grit per gear, but fuel economy looks pretty good. In a week of driving, I averaged 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km), the same as the EPA combined fuel economy figure. Best of all, despite the turbocharger and 11:1 compression ratio, the Bronco Sport runs happily on regular 87-octane fuel.
Unfortunately, the engine’s character and good fuel economy put a damper on the Bronco Sport’s driving positives. The ride quality is quite unpleasant, with very sharp vertical speeds on rising frost and other road imperfections. Even worse, that choppy ride doesn’t help the handling at all. The steering is very loose and numb, the body roll is like a guinea pig, and the lean under hard acceleration is truly something to behold. Introducing the Bronco Sport on-ramp is like asking a sullen teenager to take out the trash. The job will eventually get done, but you’ll be complaining all the time.
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Oh, and forget any notion of breach of trust. Despite visual indications that the calipers and sliders were working perfectly, braking on my Bronco Sport test car was downright scary. If I put my foot wide on the pedal it squeaks
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