A Look at How the New Broncos Stack Up Against the Sport, A Competitor (and Some Broncos of the Past)
The long-awaited arrival of the 2-door and 4-door Broncos is right around the corner after what seems like an endless saga of delays. In the meantime, we’ve all seen plenty of family-friendly Bronco Sports patrolling the asphalt and while at one time the release of this crossover may have seemed like an effort to placate the masses until the more sizable cavalry arrived, there’s plenty of evidence that this simply hasn’t been the case.
Sales for the Bronco Sport have been brisk — so much so that some dealers were asking (and getting) markups that approached $10,000 over sticker price. That the model has proven popular isn’t a real surprise, though the extent of the enthusiasm surrounding it certainly may be. The Sport’s combination of inspired aesthetics and impressive versatility — especially as far as its off-roading ability is concerned — has already given Ford a bona fide hit.
Even better for Ford, the model is winning over not only the owners of other traditional SUV brands, but also those who had previously been behind the wheel of Subarus and other brands that have traditionally garnered a high degree of loyalty.
Nevertheless, as invigorating as the Sport has been for Ford, there’s no question that the arrival of its 2-door and 4-door Bronco is the big news now. Since the success of the Sport has already been confirmed and the prevailing opinion is that it has ably captured the overall exterior aesthetics of the classic Bronco while raising the bar considerably in terms of comfort and utility, let’s take a look at how the soon-to- arrive Broncos stack up next to the Sport, with some observations on the first generation and a few other previous Bronco incarnations thrown into the mix for perspective.
Comparing the Exteriors
The Bronco Sport has been referred to as the “Baby Bronco”. That’s not necessarily a derogatory term, but as far as proportions are concerned, is it really accurate? Well, let’s just say it may be a bit of an oversimplification.
As far as wheelbase is concerned, the Sport falls in between the 2-door and 4-door Bronco, with its 105” tally actually 5” longer than the 2-door, but a full 11” shorter than the roomy 4-door, which is obviously geared toward carrying multiple passengers.
As a side note, the 2-door’s compact wheelbase is no doubt among the reasons why it’s already being sought after by rock crawling enthusiasts.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
Flash back more than 40 years to 1978 and the debut of the Bronco’s second generation, which saw the model elongated and positioned on a modified Ford truck chassis for the first time in response to its increasingly expansive competition. We would tend to think of this generation as the most sizable version of the model ever offered, but in fact the 2-door Bronco, which measures 173” from end to end, is just a little shorter than the ’78. When viewed in person, it may look even longer, since the ’78 Bronco’s length was composed of quite a bit of overhang behind the rear tires.
Taking things up a notch, the 4-door Bronco measures a full 189 inches in length. To put that in perspective, that’s about a half-foot longer than that infamous white ’93 Bronco we remember watching on television as it led a contingent of law enforcement vehicles on a slow speed chase.
As far as exterior aesthetics are concerned, the 1966 Bronco was a fitting inspiration for this new breed, but at the same time, it’s probably a good thing that its modest proportions were expanded on — it measured just 152” in length and featured a 92” wheelbase that would be a potential benefit on rugged terrain, but probably a detriment to ride quality on the asphalt.
Any vehicle’s width — especially that of a sizable vehicle like an SUV — is going to have a strong influence on its perceived stoutness, so it’s no surprise that the Bronco Sport starts at a generously-proportioned 74.3”. After all, reviewers have cited its rugged boxiness as one of its most appealing aesthetic traits. In comparison, the soon to arrive Broncos will measure 75.9” across as a starting point and top out at 79.3” in the case of the Bronco’s WildTrak version.
How About Ground Clearance?
Ground clearance is undeniably a measure that has a direct bearing on a car’s ability to excel once it’s off the asphalt. After all, it isn’t easy to portray a vehicle as being rugged if said vehicle is likely to strand itself going over a deep pothole or suddenly find itself afloat while navigating a shallow stream.
This was another area where the Bronco Sport pleasantly surprised reviewers. Edmunds.com noted, “The Bronco Sport holds its own when venturing off the beaten path thanks to standard all-wheel drive, plenty of ground clearance, multiple traction settings, and a wealth of optional off-road upgrades.” In the Sport’s case, that ground clearance starts at 7.9”, which is enough to allow it to navigate water obstacles just a touch less than 18” deep.
As you’d likely expect, both upcoming Broncos improve upon that, especially when equipped with the sought-after Sasquatch package, which includes 35” tires that give the Bronco 11.6” of ground clearance and the ability to navigate water a surprising 33.5” deep. Even the lesser tiered Broncos score well in this regard, with both the 2-door and 4-door Broncos topping the 8” mark, which also helps underscore the Sport’s already strong showing here.
Now, we’re venturing into territory where it would seem a little unfair to force the Sport into a comparison. Ford never really positioned it as a toy hauler or work site companion, after all.
And yet, the Sport’s capabilities are surprising. When equipped with a Class II towing rig, the Sport can pull between 2,000 and 2200 pounds, making it up the challenge of towing a quartet of personal watercraft or even a Boston Whaler 170 Montauk.
It’s not surprising that both the 2-door and 4-door Broncos are more capable than the Sport in this category, as both are rated at 3500lbs. What is surprising is just how well the 2-door Bronco fares vs. its 2-door Wrangler counterpart, which it leaves in the dust by a full 1500lbs.
Inside the Doors
As enticing as the prospect may sound, we can’t spend all of our time adventure seeking. The Bronco, in all its variations, is going to see plenty of duty as a weekday commuter, where it will be foregoing rugged terrain while begrudgingly returning to the asphalt.
Some comfort, in the form of spaciousness, is called for here and this is another area where the Sport fares surprisingly well. It’s rated for 5 passengers and up front it provides 41.5” of headroom, 42.4” of legroom, 57.3” of shoulder room and 55.2” of hip room. In back, its corresponding measurements of 41.7”, 36.9”, 55.6” and 53.4” provide insight as to why the Sport performs double duty so well. Its front headroom actually exceeds that of its passenger-centric stablemate, the uber-popular Explorer, and its front legroom is in about a dead heat with it, though the Sport does come up a little short of it in most of the other categories.
In its 2-door form, the Bronco is rated for 4 passengers, and offers almost identical front head and shoulder room, a touch more front leg room, and an inch more front hip room than the Sport does. Considering that the 2-door Bronco will almost certainly be favored by the more serious off-roaders and rock crawlers, this is excellent proof that the off-the-asphalt agility they’ll no doubt be seeking will not have to come at the expense of every day driving comfort.
Moving up to the 4-door Bronco will get you some consequential additional interior space for backseat passengers — about 5” more shoulder room and a full 11.5” more hip room than in its 2-door form. Even more noteworthy is the abundance of real estate the 4-door Bronco features in back — there will be up to 77.6 cubic feet of cargo space at your disposal, and moving the front seats forward creates a floor space that measures 6’6” long and 3’7” wide. Most future Bronco owners will literally be able to sleep in the back of their rides.