Of all the things that have happened in 2020, the return of the Ford Bronco has to be one of the high points. And while the rough and tough two and four door Broncos get most of the attention, chances are, the smaller Bronco Sport will get most of the sales.

The Bronco Sport rides on the Escape’s platform, but is about 8-inches shorter, putting it up against the likes of the Jeep Compass, which is most apparent in the tight second row. But its tall, boxy profile provides a wealth of headroom.

There’s also ample space in the rear cargo area, which can be accessed through the lifting rear glass. A nice and increasingly rare feature.

The interior is of the utilitarian family variety with a standard 8” center touchscreen, rotary shifter and available easy-clean rubberized flooring. 

Base engine is a 181 horsepower 1.5L EcoBoost 3-cylinder turbo rated at 26 MPG combined. A 2.0L EcoBoost turbo 4 serves as the upgrade, offering best-in-class 250 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft of torque. 2-liter fuel economy comes in at 23 mpg combined. All-wheel drive is standard across the board as is an 8-speed automatic transmission, although the 2.0L attaches to a more advanced gearbox with an oil cooler and paddle shifters.

It was this setup in which we took our first drive around the Holly Oaks area of Michigan.

"This Bronco Sport really hits its mark as the everyday off-road SUV because it’s very comfortable on the road. A great commanding view, you sit up high. It looks rugged on the outside and I like from the driver’s seat looking out over the hood and seeing these sculpted bulges on the hood. But, my favorite part about this Badlands trim so far is the engine. 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, 250 horsepower, but for me it’s all about the torque. It gets up and goes in a hurry and it sounds good when it’s doing it."

Of course, Ford wouldn’t have given it the Bronco name if it wasn’t prepared to ditch the pavement.

Top-end Badlands and First Edition models sport a beefed up suspension, almost 9” of ground clearance with the optional 29” tires as well as the Go Over Any Type of Terrain or GOAT modes, which work with the Badlands and First Edition-exclusive all-wheel drive system that uses a twin-clutch rear drive unit with locking feature. All this to say, the Bronco Sport confidently handles a variety of difficult off road scenarios from steep hill climbs to rock crawls and even deep sand. 

The 2021 Bronco Sport is set to go on sale by the end of 2020...and let’s all hope it does, in fact end. Prices start just under $30,000 while a top-end Badlands First Edition comes in at around $40,000.

And we’ll have much more coming up soon on MotorWeek!