Which Jeep Best Competes With the Ford Bronco Sport?

Ford’s coming after Jeep, aiming the big Bronco directly at the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. But which of Jeep’s three front-drive-based models is the closest rival for Ford’s Escape-based Bronco Sport? Let’s examine what we currently know or surmise about the Bronco Sport’s size, price, performance, and capability and find the closest Jeep match.

Size-Wise—Exterior

In terms of exterior wheelbase and length dimensions, Jeep’s Compass is the closest match to the Bronco Sport, at 103.8 and 173.0 inches, respectively, to Bronco Sport’s 105.1 and 172.7. The Renegade is considerably shorter (101.2/166.6), and the Cherokee is longer (107.1/182.0). But in striving for that boxy mien, the Ford measures taller than any of the above, at 67.9 inches for the base and 69.1 for the Badlands off-roader versus the Jeeps, which run from 64.6 to 67.8 inches for Compass to Cherokee. At 74.3 inches wide, the Bronco Sport slots between the Compass (73.8) and Cherokee (74.9).

Inner Space

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Inside, Compass comes closest in terms of cargo space, but you’d have to jump to a Grand Cherokee to beat the boxy Bronco Sport’s 65.0 cubic feet of max cargo space, and its 32.0 cubes behind the rear seat. Compass bests the Cherokee and Renegade with 59.8/27.2 cubic feet versus 54.7/25.8 and 50.8/18.5. Ford’s high roof lends unbeatable headroom, too—41.5 inches’ worth in front, 41.7 in back. The similarly boxy Renegade ranks next head-roomiest with 41.1 and 40.5. Bronco Sport lavishes superlative front legroom at 42.4 inches (0.6 inch ahead of the Compass), while rear leg room of 36.9 slots between the Renegade (35.1) and Compass (38.3). There’s ample shoulder room on offer in the Ford, at 57.0 inches in front/55.6 rear to the Compass’ 56.7/55.1. Total interior space, at 58.0 cubic feet in front, 49.5 rear, bests the Renegade in front by 3.2 cubes and ties the Cherokee in back. Basically, if you’re tall and carry a lot of stuff, Bronco Sport should be high on the shopping list.

Price

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Ford won’t announce official pricing until closer to the Bronco Sport’s December 2020 launch date, but we expect the base vehicle to open at about $27,000 with the fully off-road-ready 2.0-liter turbo Badlands model transacting around $35,000. Jeep offers each of these models with front drive, but all Bronco Sports will get all-wheel drive (the Escape is your front-drive option), so we’re only looking at Jeeps that spin all four wheels. Here, the base Bronco Sport slots almost evenly between the base Renegade and Cherokee, while the off-road-optimized Badlands model should start about $3,800 above the Compass Trailhawk and roughly $1,250 below the Cherokee Trailhawk.

Power/Torque/Weight

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In terms of on-road performance, the Bronco Sport 2.0-liter turbo looks poised to be a heavy favorite in the stop-light grands prix, boasting the second-highest torque (270 lb-ft) and the lowest weight-to-power rating of roughly 14.9 lb/hp (comparing manufacturer-claimed curb weights). The Cherokee V-6 makes the most power (271 hp) but also totes the heaviest load, weighing well over two tons.

Off-Road Clearance

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Bronco Sport squeaks ahead of all the transverse-engine Jeeps on ground clearance with 8.8 inches of it, but it ranks second to Renegade Trailhawk in approach angle, third (just ahead of Cherokee) on departure angle, and dead last in ramp-breakover angle. Those short overhangs give the Renegade Trailhawk the best approach and departure angles. We are eager to get the Bronco Sport Badlands model out in the dirt with any of the Jeep Trailhawk models to see how they compare, but the tape measure suggests there won’t be many places the Renegade Trailhawk can get to that a Badlands Bronco can’t follow.

Conclusion

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Buyers looking for a rugged appearance with an iconic back story, some reasonable ground clearance, and the basic foul-weather capability that comes with the base versions of these vehicles will find that the Bronco competes pretty closely on price with optioned-up versions of either the Renegade or Compass, while surpassing those models (and the larger, pricier Cherokee) on carrying capacity and on-road performance. We really need to experience the Bronco Sport Badlands’ SH-AWD/Twinster-like rear-axle torque-vectoring before we comment on its off-road capabilities, but folks looking for as much off-road capability as they can find in a front-drive-based compact crossover should seriously cross-shop the Bronco Sport Badlands against the Cherokee Trailhawk.

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