So I walk up to the Ford Bronco Sport after a week driving a $120,000 Porsche Macan SUV and the elite snob part of my brain asks: Is this really a luxury SUV? Can you consider it one?
Related: Battle of the luxury SUV: Lincoln Navigator versus the Infiniti QX80
It’s a step down, no? Let’s take the price point out of it. The 2022 Bronco Sport Badlands I drove lists at a notch below $52,000 CAD ($37,500 USD; ours had the premium package). Luxury is subjective. Your definition is different than mine. For some people, a brand new Bronco might be considered luxury. I am thinking younger people might look at it that way. Maybe it’s their first serious vehicle. Are you in a state of comfort driving it? Yes. Is it extravagant? No.
Is there an abundance of luxury features and touch points driving it? Listen, I spent years driving Jeep TJs when I was younger. This is in that ballpark, in terms of smaller, off-roading SUVs. And there’s way more going on with the Bronco compared to those old TJs. Plus there’s a charisma factor – I noticed the same waves and nods from other Bronco drivers as I passed them on the road, almost a brotherhood or sisterhood. That was the case back in the TJ days as well.
So in a magazine where we’re featuring supercars, Porsches, and BMWs, this is a stretch. But we had a blast driving it, so here we are. Take these five first impressions of the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands and debate amongst yourselves.
Love the overall boldness
The exterior design is, in a word, fun. And purposeful. The Bronco Sport Badlands comes equipped with active grille shutters, LED headlamps and tail lamps. It’s boxy and bold. It’s obviously for those who run an active lifestyle, especially those who love the outdoors and are searching for utility in their vehicle. So the safari-type roof rails (can handle 150 pounds), fog lamps and front two hooks, liftgate with flip-up glass, with a small pop-up table to hold that case of beer or for that picnic lunch, are all appropriate if that’s your lifestyle.
The truck has 8.8 inches of ground clearances. And with the standard all-terrain tires and 23.6 inches of water fording capability, you are free to roam the countryside as you see fit, up and over rocks and steep hills, maybe through a creek.
The interior did not impress
Again, don’t expert comfort there. Know that the truck is made for off-roaders, so that means being ready for spills along the way. The design is okay, but there’s a lot of plastics in there. So it might look a little cheap to you. But you also want something that’s easy to clean. This all depends on your perspective, what you are looking for in your vehicle. Is heated front seats considered luxury? I am guessing your answer will be “yes” driving this in the teeth of February.
The Bronco seats five, but we found the back seat to be tight. If it’s the kids, you’re in the clear. If it’s a buddy who plays for the college basketball team you’re going to have problems. What we liked back there was the storage space – 32.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Knock those back seats down and you have 65.2 cubic feet. Plenty of room for those weekend jaunts into places like Algonquin Park, Apache Trail in Arizona, or across the dunes of Florence, Oregon.
All the tech you will want
Satellite radio is a must in any vehicle, and the Ford Bronco Sport has you covered there. There was an eight-inch touch screen, six-speaker stereo. USB ports, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Remote vehicle start, reverse camera system, lane keeping assist, hill start assist, pre-collision assist, Advancetrac with roll stability control – all features that back in the day would be considered luxury for SUV off-roaders. These days they are standards, I guess. There’s a real nice blend between the aforementioned utility this segment of the car buyer is looking for and comfort features for those longer drives.
More than enough power
The Bronco Sport I drove came equipped with a 2.0L Ecoboost engine, with an 8-speed auto transmission powering all four wheels, generating 250 hp and 277 lb-ft. You’ll go from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, perfectly fine since your objective here isn’t to set any speed records. Combined fuel consumption says 28 miles/gallon (10.2 litres/100 km).
I was surprised a little here, considering the shape and girth of the vehicle, but it handled corners with relative stability. Brakes were strong, and the steering was quick. I didn’t get to off-road, but Canada has some of the worst roads in the world, according to this ranking, so we were still able to get a pretty good idea about it’s handling. The Bronco Sport Badlands can tow up to 2,200 pounds.
I thought the suspension on the Ford Bronco Sport absorbed those larger bumps, holes and dips very efficiently, lots of grip with its traction control modes. You’ll still spill your coffee, but if you’re dropping double the money and you want more comfort in an SUV, head here.