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2021 Ford Bronco Sport Off-Road Review First Ride



The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is an impressively capable off-road vehicle and the G.O.A.T. modes are easy to access and deliver almost video game-like off-roading and control through a wide range of surfaces. The most impressive moment during my ride in the Bronco Sport was stopping near the top of a steep hill sitting there for a minute while a vehicle engineer explained a feature and then continuing up the incline from a full stop without any protest from the Sport.

Recently I had the experience of riding in the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport on an off-road experience in Michigan. While the best test is ultimately behind the wheel, there is a lot to learn from any off-road time in a new vehicle.

2021 Bronco Sport G.O.A.T. Modes

G.O.A.T. modes are helpful and easy to switch between.

The Bronco Sport includes G.O.A.T. modes (Goes Over Any Terrain), which is what Ford calls the different off-road modes. Switching modes is very easy, with a toggle on the center console. The driver reached back, turned a dial, and instantly switched to the best settings for the obstacle ahead. The placement of the switch, is good with no stretch needed and the dial is chunky enough to find and turn by feel, so you can keep your eyes on the trail.

Each mode changes a wide range of factors to deliver the optimal amount of power and control for what is in front, above or below you. The modes are Sand, Slippery, Sport, Eco, and Normal on all models. If you opt for the Badlands model, you also get Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl.

Overall Capability and Confidence

Through various obstacles the 2021 Bronco Sport inspired confidence from the passenger seat.

As we took the Bronco Sport through the off-road park we went through Sand, water, mud, over some rocky obstacles and up steep hills. While we didn’t take the same routes as in the Bronco, the Bronco Sport was a very capable off-road vehicle. The ability to come to a complete stop on a hill and resume with no worry as well as the power that the G.O.A.T. modes feel like they will allow users to more easily do more off-road.

The modes and overall capabilities inspired confidence from the passenger seat. Ultimately I am looking forward to getting in the driver seat to feel what the Bronco Sport is capable of, which will give me better insight into the limitations, but during this brief experience, I came away impressed.

2021 Bronco Trail Tech

What’s it like to drive the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport off-road.

A few very interesting pieces of trail tech are available on the 2021 Bronco Sport. One that I really love and miss anytime I off-road without is the ability to use the front camera to see the trail in front of me. This helps with navigating around tight areas or checking over a steep drop. On the Bronco Sport, you can turn this on at low speeds and see what is ahead of you. There is also an option to go for a wider angle view that shows you more of what is around. The real benefit here is that the driver couldn’t easily see the front right corner clearance as we turned, but instead of stretching or relying on a passenger who may not know what they are doing, a tap showed the clearance on the center console.

Trail Control is essentially cruise control for off-roading. I’ve experienced this first hand in the Ford Ranger, and it’s a part of the Bronco Sport. This lets you set a specific speed, from 1 to 20 mph forward and 6 mph in reverse. The vehicle control acceleration and braking and you just need to focus on steering. This allows for very smooth control through obstacles.

While there is a lot to be said for manually controlling the off-road experience. This helps drivers get a feel for smoothly getting through the next challenge, and it’s an option — so you can stick to the DIY approach if you want.

There is an 8-inch screen for infotainment use, which also shows the front-facing trail camera. The vehicle includes Sync 4, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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