Review: 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage brings back the 60s
Ford is making 1,966 models of the 2023 Bronco Sport in its Heritage editions. The 1966 number refers to the year the Bronco was introduced. The throwback trim levels for the Bronco Sport include steelie-appearing wheels, retro paint jobs, and nostalgic interior touches.
At a glance
- Harkens back to 1966 when the Bronco was introduced
- Heritage models are based on two trim levels of the Bronco Sport
- Two different drivetrain options, depending on trim chosen
- Cool nostalgic colors and interiors
The Ford Bronco Sport was introduced two years ago, hitting dealerships just before the long-awaited revival of the full-sized Bronco arrived. Based on the Escape, the smaller Bronco Sport is a crossover sport utility whose boxy design and higher ground clearance provides more yesteryear appeal and off-road capability when compared to the very similar Escape family hauler.
The Bronco Sport seats five, has a good-sized cargo space, and comes in several packages with two different powertrain options ... for now. Ford has promised more options for the little SUV – including electrification – but has made no announcement as for when those might be available.
The Heritage models of the Ford Bronco Sport come in two flavors: the Heritage and the Heritage Limited. The former is based on the second-tier Big Bend trim with its 1.5-liter turbocharged engine (181 hp / 135 kW). The Heritage Limited is based on the higher-end Badlands model with its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine (250 hp / 186 kW).
Also differing between the two editions is some of the off-road capability. The Big Bend/Heritage model has standard all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Badlands/Heritage Limited, however, has an upgraded four-wheel drive system with an off-road-centric rear differential, underbody skid plates, and off-pavement speed metering via Trail Control.
We drove the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited with the better off-road gear, and enjoyed its added power and better capability. It was amusing how much functionality Ford seems to attribute to this little SUV, though, with the off-road drive settings including rocks and mud and the like in the mix. With a ground clearance of only 8.8 inches (22.3 cm) and a street-ready suspension, the Bronco Sport is not a hardcore off-roader. It’s good, but not that good.
What really shines about the Heritage models of the Bronco Sport are the nostalgic touches. The alloy wheels are made to look like old-school steelies, the Bronco label across the front gets a body-contrast and highlight design, and the available two-tone paint colors are much like the colors available in the 1960s. They include the yellow as we drove it, a baby blue, and a darker blue. All three with white contrasts.
Inside, the Heritage models have plaid cloth seating, navy blue instrumentation, and the same white accents found outside the Bronco Sport. Stitching throughout is in nostalgic colors as well, including a bright red and a baby blue.
These throwback touches are probably the best rendition of the Bronco Sport. They remind us of a time when Batman with Adam West and Star Trek with William Shatner were brand new – even if we weren’t actually there for the originals in 1966. Car nerds will remember that year not just for the introduction of the Bronco, but also because it was when the Porsche 911 and powerful Dodge Charger were introduced.
As we said in our original assessment of the new Ford Bronco Sport, it’s a smooth driver with good capability and a comfortable interior. Its boxier design and more off-road focus mean it’s not as fuel-efficient as the Escape that it’s based upon, but that’s rarely what people worry about when buying something like this. The Bronco Sport is much more fun to operate and look at than is its more efficiency-focused sibling.
The 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage model begins at US$34,500 plus delivery. Production begins in the fall of 2023 (Northern Hemisphere).
Product page: 2023 Ford Bronco Sport
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Good or bad.
The original Bronco defined KISS. Keep it simple stupid.
I too admired the original Bronco, even before I had a driver’s license. In SE Michigan we regularly see perfectly restored original Broncos.
The new “real” Bronco is amazingly true to the genetics of the original Bronco, particularly in this age of modern technology vehicles.
The new real Bronco is now my “midlife crisis” (OK, post midlife) aspiration. Once the wait lists and buyer premiums calm down, I will own one.