How Good is the Ford Bronco Sport's Customer Satisfaction Level?
Because of the excitement, sales success and intermittent drama that have all surrounded the full-size Bronco since its announcement, it’s understandable that the smaller Bronco Sport just doesn’t get nearly as much ink. To some extent, that’s been for the better — while the full-size Bronco has been in the news due to a series of production delays, component glitches, unfilled orders and shady dealership practices, the Bronco Sport’s production misfortunes have centered more squarely on purely pandemic-related stoppages that have plagued the entire automotive industry.
A Smoother Launch Than Its Larger Brother
(To Say the Least)
In a nutshell, the Sport has outwardly benefitted from a more conventional launch, and while the model proved popular right from the start, supply has remained more or less in sync with demand — although at various times dealerships have had to resort to selling their demos to keep up. With plenty of Sports patrolling the asphalt over a long enough period to gauge whether or not the model has lived up to expectations, the question remains — has it?
From the indications that matter most, it appears that it has. Sales volume, though not at the stratospheric level of the full-size Bronco, has been substantial, with well over 95,000 units of the Bronco now having been sold. The Sport, as mentioned before, hasn’t suffered from the production shortfalls of its larger brother — pandemic related issues only stalled the availability of the model from the initially planned fall to winter of 2020, which seems almost quaint in comparison. In the process, dealer mark-ups that have been reported to be as high as $10,000 over MSRP haven’t dissuaded buyers over the months that the Sport has been on the market.
Those buyers seem to be uniformly happy with their purchases. Reviews across the board have been consistently strong, with Cars.com giving the Sport an overall buyer rating in excess of 4.8 out of 5.0. An even better-known barometer — J.D. Power — lists the Sport at an 83 out of 100 in customer satisfaction. That rating could easily be even a little higher — the Sport ranked very solidly in terms of its buyer perceived quality, reliability and driving experience, but things dipped a bit as far as how customers ranked their experience at the dealership. The lower number in this category offers further proof that Ford needs to take a much closer look at its current dealership relations.
Buyers’ positive observations pertaining to the Bronco Sport have centered on a number of aspects, including the Sport’s exterior and interior styling and refined street manners — it was no secret that most Sports would spend the bulk of their time on the asphalt, despite being equipped with 4-wheel drive. (As we noted a while back, the Sport’s off-road abilities exceeded the expectations of at least one well-regarded publication.
Interestingly, despite being propelled by a choice of two compact engines, more than a few buyers noted that they were satisfied with the Sport’s performance — horsepower definitely goes a longer way when it’s tasked with propelling a vehicle that features a curb weight between 3400-3700lbs. By means of comparison, a 2-door Bronco Base for the full-size Bronco comes in at just a little over 4200lbs.
While the tastes and priorities of the buying public can be fickle, and current success is never guaranteed for the long haul, the response to the Bronco Sport thus far has to be very good news for Ford. The model wasn’t plagued by the obstacles that the full-size Bronco has regrettably encountered, but its launch was somewhat unconventional in a couple of respects.
The Inverse of What We've Generally Seen with Multiple Size Variations of the Same Model Name
The Sport arrived on the market well ahead of the full-size Bronco, despite being a seeming afterthought when the reintroduction of the latter was announced to so much fanfare in 2017. Offering two size variations of the same model isn’t a new concept — Ford introduced the ill-fated Bronco II in the mid-’80s to take its place alongside the standard Bronco, and Chevy did the same thing with much better results with the S10 Blazer a couple of years earlier.
In both cases, however, the full-size variation of the model hit the market first, which contrasts with the reincarnated Bronco’s sequence of events. Also, you can make a strong argument that the Sport resembles its full-size counterpart more closely than did either the Blazer variations or the previous incarnations of the Bronco. The Bronco Sport, which features a 4-door configuration, carries a wheelbase of just over 105 inches, which is only a foot less than a full size 4-door Bronco — and, yet a foot longer than the original 1966 Bronco. While the wheelbase margin between the 1984 Bronco and Bronco II was even narrower, the overall proportions of the two vehicles made it very easy to tell them apart — even from quite a distance.
On the other hand, despite the Sport’s unconventionally early arrival relative to the full-size Bronco, Ford had established the Sport’s identity as a crossover vehicle from the start and it was aimed directly at motorists who were seeking its implied sense of adventure but at the same time would need plenty of utility in everyday driving situations.
The Proof is in the Numbers
Thus far, those buyer satisfaction ratings offer proof that the manufacturer has hit the mark. The Sport’s success may have been overshadowed thus far by the excitement and drama — both intended and otherwise — that have surrounded the full-size Bronco, but the Sport represents a clear victory for Ford.