Here's What Separates The Bronco And Bronco Sport

bronco and bronco sport

When it comes to hyped-up vehicles, few match the Bronco. Ever since the Bronco’s return was announced, people have been clamoring to get their hands on it. With serious off-road driving capability, heritage to its name, and real potential in the market, the Bronco looks to be a huge success once it finally goes for sale. As details came out more, the Bronco looked and sounded more exciting to the point that minutes after the world debut, the First Edition was sold out. Orders for other trim levels have continued to flood in as well, showing the obvious excitement around the new off-roader. As a full-fledged off-road capable vehicle with rugged good looks, it isn’t surprising to see why.

However, there were two issues with the debut. The first is that even one year out, the Bronco is still not for sale on showroom floors. The second being that many people got confused when Ford then launched the Bronco’s little sibling first. The Bronco Sport, while not at all mechanically related to the Bronco, was quickly brought to the street to fill the need of those who wanted small suburban SUVs and CUVs that looked tough enough to hold their own on paths outside of the parking lot. The Sport is a surprisingly good little trucklet in terms of looks, packaging, and even drivability on various surfaces to the point of conquering quite a few difficult off-road rock trails even.

It’s understandable why people were caught so off-guard with the Bronco Sport hitting the road first by nearly a year if they hadn’t followed the news on the Bronco at all. Covered in “BRONCO” badging up front, on the rear liftgate, and sporting the Bronco logo, the Sport does a convincing job in saying it is the Bronco especially since the actual one does not say it anywhere other than the front grille. In terms of price even the two are similar, but don’t think for a moment that the Bronco is the same as the Sport.

What Is The Bronco? What Is The Bronco Sport? Are The Two Broncos Related? How Do The Broncos Differ? Relation In Ford's Lineup

broncos offroad

What Is The Bronco?

The Bronco is the real deal Ford offroader from the 1960s reborn. After being absent from the market for over 20 years, the Bronco is more capable and durable than ever before. It has been designed from the ground-up to be as drivable on pavement as it is through rough and incredibly difficult off-road terrain like rock, rivers, and just about anything else thrown in its way. To get anywhere, the Bronco has up to 310 horsepower and a body-on-frame setup that allows it to go over pretty much everything when paired with the optional 37-inch tires from the Sasquatch package and locking differential. The Bronco has already been proven to tackle off-road courses in Moab and Telluride and has the same features that made the first generation Bronco a massive sales success.

The Bronco is one of the first Ford products in recent time that has been designed with customization in mind outside of the Mustang and Focus ST/RS. As such, the removable body panels, external light and audio wiring, and customizable interior sets the Bronco far apart from nearly any other vehicle on the market. Stepped up to the yet-to-be-released Warthog model, it is the most off-road capable Ford production vehicle ever built which includes the F-150 Raptor.

bronco sport offroad

What Is The Bronco Sport?

Where the Bronco goes, apparently so does its little sibling too. The Bronco Sport is designed to fit more suburban life than the Bronco, but that did not stop Ford from making it surprisingly capable. The Bronco Sport was built on the same platform of the Escape but has been beefed up both visually and in terms of performance. The more boxy shape and fender flares give the Bronco Sport a more aggressive look than the more pedestrian Escape.

With its unibody construction, the Bronco Sport is intended much more to be a slightly off-road ready family CUV that will more likely than not never see more than a gravel or dirt road for off-road use. With up to 250 horsepower, the Bronco Sport has some capability off-road, especially when in Badlands trim but at the end of the day the Bronco Sport is more a successor to the Bronco II than it is to the Bronco.

Another thing that both vehicles share is Ford’s new G.O.A.T (goes over any terrain) system that will adjust to whatever surface you are on depending on what setting is chosen. This control allows the Bronco and Bronco Sport to adapt as they drive based on input from the suspension and cameras to ensure the vehicle works as well as possible over difficult terrain. This feature is only available in these two vehicles currently as a Bronco-only feature.

bronco and sport

While these two are very different, there are some factors in common. The use of the name “Bronco” is more than just skin deep regarding both vehicles which may surprise many people. Looking at both vehicles, the only visual similarities are the front grille, the boxy body style, and a surprising amount of the interior design. While the two vehicles differ on platform, drivetrain, and engine, it would be easy to imagine a two-car garage consisting of one of each. Both vehicles are unique in the market compared to what else is offered by competitors like Chevy and Dodge.

The Bronco Sport brings a lot of the options and naming from the full-fledged Bronco into its own lineup, including the trim levels. Many of the trim levels on the Bronco Sport are the same as on the Bronco including the top performance trim on the Sport called “Badlands”, which sits one below the Wildtrak trim for the full-size model. Additionally, throughout the interior of the Sport you have Bronco logos scattered around with more than double the number of Bronco badges than the actual Bronco. The Bronco Sport also carries over the Bronco’s boxy and rugged styling to look tougher than most CUVs on the market.

In terms of performance, the Bronco Sport is realistically much more capable than it should be. The Bronco Sport and the Bronco are incredibly similar in nearly every dimension, off by only one or two inches in most measurements including height, width, and length. Even with some specs varying by more (including breakover angle and wheelbase), measurements like departure angle and cargo space are similar measurements as well to the full Bronco. Factoring these figures in, the Bronco Sport could actually partially take the niche of the Bronco for those who want something off-road capable enough without it being a full all-terrain vehicle.

sport interior

How Do The Broncos Differ?

While the two may share some similarities, there are many more differences. The most obvious difference immediately is size. The base trim full-size Bronco sits more than an inch higher, and with the optional 35-inch tires that increases even further. The Bronco also features a broader body more suited for driving in different environments than just some light off-roading and city driving as well as its removable body panels. The Bronco is available as a two-door as well while the Bronco Sport only comes as a four-door five seat passenger vehicle. When comparing the four door Bronco, it is much larger than the Bronco Sport since it rides on the frame of the larger Ranger pickup truck. The Bronco also has a slightly different front end than the Sport and a rear tailgate that opens differently than the Bronco Sport too.

Under the hood comes more differences. The Bronco is fitted with either a 2.3 liter turbocharged inline 4 or a 2.7 liter turbocharged V6 which both put out more power than either engine option for the Bronco Sport. Additionally, the two use different gearboxes too with the Bronco Sport using an 8-speed automatic while the Bronco comes with either a 7-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic depending on which engine and options you choose. The Bronco also comes standard with a locking differential in order to further improve off-road use while the Bronco Sport does not.

bronco interior

As you continue diving deeper into the Bronco, more differences become obvious too. While on the surface the interiors of the cars may resemble each other, differences in materials and technology become apparent quickly. The most obvious difference is in the gear selector. While the Bronco offers both a manual and automatic gearbox, the Bronco Sport does not. Furthermore, the Bronco Sport’s gear selector is a rotary dial while the Bronco still uses a traditional gear selector and rubberized handbrake. To help the Bronco off-road, it has Ford’s 360-degree camera available, but the Bronco Sport does not offer it, even as an add-on from the factory. While the Bronco Sport also has a traditional gauge setup, the Bronco does not and instead uses a digital display next to its gauges. While the exterior of the Bronco Sport may say “Bronco” all over the body, the ruggedness and toughness of the Bronco translates into the interior with hard lines and only the second “BRONCO” badging.

bronco vs sport

Relation In Ford's Lineup

When it gets down to it, the Bronco Sport is more or less an entry into the Bronco family. The Bronco was legendary off-road and as a fun vehicle, and Ford knew that when they developed it. The Bronco Sport is more for family duty with some camping trips during the year while the Bronco is more for actual use off-road. Of course, the four-door Bronco can do this too, but costs dramatically more than a Bronco Sport in a similar way to the Wrangler Unlimited costing much more than the Cherokee Trailhawk. The Bronco, regardless of trim level, is an enthusiast vehicle through and through and was designed with the intention of adventuring off road and seeing the world while the Bronco Sport just isn’t.

While making two different models with the name “Bronco” might be confusing, seeing the two on the road is enough to immediately show which is which. By selling two different models, Ford appeals to both those with families and those without as well as providing a family-friendly option to those who travel more than average. As a sub-brand, Bronco works well with these two models but the models should have debuted at the same time to help minimize confusion or eliminate any doubt among enthusiasts who first see the Bronco Sport after being shown the Bronco.

Price-wise, Ford has made sure to differentiate between both vehicles as well. With the Bronco Sport as a more family-friendly model, it’s price reflects that with a much lower entry price and fully loaded price than the Bronco. At $26,660 the Bronco Sport already undercuts the Bronco’s price by $2,000 and fully loaded is cheaper than a mid-level trim on the Bronco. Starting at just shy of $29,000, the Bonco starts at a higher price and each trim level jumps the price up higher. Ford’s reasoning is that as an enthusiast vehicle, the Bronco can command a much higher price of up to $60,000+ with options. With price, ability, and style considered, it is very hard to confuse the Bronco and Bronco Sport, and once the Bronco is more prominent on the road people will be able to see exactly which vehicle is right for them for their needs on and off the road.

Image Credit: Ford Media Center