Class: Compact Crossover
Color: Yellowstone Metallic
Miles driven: 168
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||250-horsepower 2.0-liter|
|Engine Type||Turbocharged 4-cylinder|
Observed fuel economy: 22.2 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 21/26/23 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Snow Performance: N/A
Base price: $44,655 (not including $1595 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Cargo management system ($150)
Price as tested: $46,400
The great: Spunky character, fun retro look
The good: Roomy front seating row, rides and handles well
The not so good: Limited 2nd-row passenger space, pricey trim level
Why wait for a milestone anniversary to embrace your heritage? Is it really necessary to allow 50, 75, or 100 years to roll by before celebrating a storied past? Clearly Ford doesn’t seem to think so, as the brand’s new Heritage Edition Bronco Sport trim levels have arrived on the 57th anniversary of the first Bronco SUV.
For those unfamiliar, the Bronco SUV arrived in dealerships for the 1966 model year. The small and rugged Bronco was a bare-bones 2-door affair, offering buyers little in the way of creature comforts. The Bronco grew in size for the 1978 model year, sharing mechanical bits with Ford’s F-150 large pickup truck. Ford killed the Bronco after the 1996 model year, as consumer attention turned away from its rugged design to the incredibly popular—and more family friendly–Explorer.
Responding to the growing popularity—and profitability—of the Jeep Wrangler, Ford resurrected the Bronco for 2021, this time in 2- and 4-door guise. The new off-road ready SUV draws liberally on the Bronco brand’s trail-ready heritage, and has proven popular with consumers.
While the new Bronco seemed to be the off-road equal of Ford’s original trail-dusting fun machine, it is also much larger, and more expensive. Enter the Bronco Sport:
Though not a true SUV—it’s built on unibody architecture shared with Ford’s Escape small crossover—the Bronco Sport is truer to the original Bronco in terms of size and affordability. Indeed, the Bronco Sport is still huge relative to the 1966 Bronco, coming in 22-inches longer, and riding on a 13-inch longer wheelbase. The Bronco Sport is also 6-inches wider and 1-inch taller than the ’66.
And, about that heritage…
For 2023 Ford has made available Heritage versions of both the big Bronco, and the Bronco Sport. We’ll take a look at the Bronco variants at a later date. As for the Bronco Sport, the standard Heritage is essentially a specially trimmed version of the midlevel Big Bend trim, while the Heritage Limited is based on the topline Badlands trim. And, per Ford, Heritage Limited production will be capped at 1966 examples for 2023. No word as to whether or not the trim level will be reprised for 2024.
And, about that heritage…
Going Heritage means enjoying some throwback trim elements. Specific items include an “Oxford White” grille with Race Red “Bronco” lettering, an Oxford White roof, 17-inch white (moving forward, just assume all white stuff is Oxford White) wheels, a white roof, special side stripes, and white interior trim on the door, center console, and dashboard. Also, and this may be the coolest Heritage bit, is the retro Bronco fender badge.
Mechanically, the Heritage editions are no different than non-Heritage Bronco Sports, meaning the standard Heritage is powered by a 181-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine, while the Heritage Limited comes with a 250-horsepower turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Both engines mate to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Consumer Guide recently spent a week with a 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited in Yellowstone Metallic, a color exclusive to the trim level.
We’ll begin with a purely subjective evaluation of the Heritage trim: we love it. Not only did we receive several unsolicited compliments on our test truck, we find the throwback white grille and wheels to be classy callbacks to the original Bronco. We wonder, however, how many current-generation new-car shoppers appreciate design references to a vehicle introduced in 1966. Additionally, we can’t help but point out that the Heritage Edition features a small, turbocharged engine and Japanese-brand tires, neither of which feels especially true to the original Bronco concept. That said, we doubt anyone will really care.
We’ve driven a number of Bronco Sports recently, and you can read our reviews of them here. But let us reaffirm that we find the smaller of Ford’s Bronco offerings to be practical, sporty, and generally fun to drive.
Our complaints are few: We wish there was a little more rear-seat passenger space, and, for this money—our test truck listed for more than $46,000—a power tailgate isn’t part of the deal. That said, we do appreciate the separate-opening rear-hatch glass, a handy feature that proves useful in tight parking spaces.
Here are a few impressions of the Bronco Sport Heritage limited from our log:
- The touchscreen graphics are large and easy to read
- The audio system sounds pretty good
- There is a huge amount of front-seat adjustability
- Great ride quality
- Good handling and steering feel
- Surprisingly premium cabin amenities
- Plaid-look seat perforations classy, mimic old-school plaid Bronco seats
Over 168 miles, Consumer Guide averaged 22.2 mpg, not bad given the power and performance of vehicle.
Stepping up to the Heritage Limited from the Badlands trim level will se you back more than $6000. That’s a lot of money for what amounts to just upgraded trim elements. That said, the Heritage looks great, and its possible as a limited-edition offering may be worth more at trade-in time. For a better value, consider the standard Bronco Sport Heritage.
The Bronco Sport is a practical, fun-to-drive small crossover that drips character and is easy to spot in a parking lot. If you don’t need to pack adults into the rear seats too often, there’s little about Ford’s smallest crossover—the unloved EcoSport is going away—to complain about. And, if you have the money to spend, the Heritage Editions look great.
2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)