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Ford Bronco Sport 2021: Australia denied Escape’s cooler twin SUV


Ford has recently launched the Bronco Sport SUV to rave reviews in the United States, but the rough-and-tumble take on a city SUV will not be coming to Australia.

Ford Australia has confirmed that the Bronco Sport midsize SUV, a crossover that echoes the visual cues of the larger Bronco 4×4, will not be coming to Australia in 2021.

Despite sharing its underpinnings with the Ford Escape midsize SUV, which launched in Australia late last year, the American-made Bronco Sport will remain a left-hand-drive vehicle only.

Ford Bronco Sport 2021 group
Ford Bronco Sport (right) will not be coming to Australia and neither will the fully-fledged Bronco (left and centre)

Neil McDonald, product communications manager at Ford Australia, told Chasing Cars the Bronco and the Bronco Sport were vehicles specifically designed to appeal to the North American market and the local rejection was not due to technical or logistical issues.

“Our focus this year is on Ranger and Everest and we’ve just launched the Puma and Escape so that’s the priority for us in 2021,” he said.

Ford Bronco Sport 2021 front
Ford Bronco Sport boasts some serious off-road credentials

Unlike the fully-fledged Bronco, which uses a body-on-frame design, the Bronco Sport utilises a unibody construction shared with the Escape but still boasts some credible off-road capability.

The Bronco proper has also been ruled out for Australia, though Melbourne firm Crossover Car Conversions has expressed an interest in importing and converting the Bronco for Australian buyers.

Ford Bronco Sport 2021 water
The Bronco Sport has an incredible wading depth of around 600mm

In the United States, the Bronco Sport is offered with a slew of off-road enhancements with a selectable terrain function and buyers can option steel bash plates for added underbody protection.

The Bronco Sport Badlands and First Edition models are fitted with a twin-clutch rear differential that is able to send all its rear power to either wheel, alongside beefed-up shocks combined with softer springs and sway-bars to give the SUV increased articulation over tricky surfaces. 

Ford Escape ST-Line 2021 red rear end
The Bronco shares the same underpinnings as the Escape which is available in Australia

The upgraded suspension also increases the ride height by 25 millimetres for a total of 221mm of ground clearance, giving the Bronco Sport a wading depth of around 600mm – which is superior to most midsize SUVs.

Ford have offered buyers the option of 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol engine making 135kW of power and 258Nm of torque, or the Escape’s more potent turbocharged inline-four that puts out 183kW/373Nm in the US tune. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Ford Bronco Sport 2021 interior
Ford Australia says it will instead focus on the Ranger and Everest models in 2021

Mr McDonald said Ford has been happy with the reception of the new Escape, and plans to keep the midsize SUV’s keen pricing for the foreseeable future, with buyers able to snag an Escape for between $35,990 to $49,590 before on road costs. 

Set to arrive later this year is the Escape ST-Line PHEV, priced at $52,940, which will offer about 56 kilometres of electric-only range

Ford Bronco Sport 2021 towing
Ford Bronco Sport is available with the Escape potent turbocharged inline-four that puts out 183kW of power and 373Nm of torque

“[The Escape] was ramping up when it was launched towards the end of last year and we expect to get more traction with it this year and then the PHEV when it arrives around the fourth quarter this year which will give it even more growth,” Mr McDonald said.

“I think there is a general trend in our market for [internal combustion] engines but also alternative fuel sources and that’s something we want to be part of.”

Ford managed to shift 390 Escapes in December 2020, eclipsing the likes of the Renault Koleos and the run-out Volkswagen Tiguan, but the result was still a far cry from the Toyota RAV4 segment leader at 3,542 sales.