Ford continues to channel the rich history of its iconic Bronco 4×4 with the introduction of two new retro-inspired special editions of its Bronco Sport compact SUV.
The 2023 Bronco Sport Heritage Edition and Bronco Sport Heritage Limited Edition celebrate the birth of the Bronco brand with a classic-themed appearance package that takes styling cues from the original 1966 truck. Both variants feature a white roof, white rear badging, white 17-inch aluminum wheels, and a white grille with red BRONCO letters.
The Bronco Sport Heritage Edition, built on the Big Bend trim level, uses Ford’s 181-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-three, which is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Suspension features include hydraulic front bump stops and specially tuned springs included in Ford’s High Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension (HOSS) system package, as well as five user-selectable “GOAT” terrain modes for off-road driving.
Heritage Edition interior styling includes white trim accents, plaid cloth seats, blue-red accent stitching, microsuede center console armrests and Navy Pier Blue accents on the door panels and dash. Buyers have a choice of seven paint options, including Robin’s Egg Blue, a throwback color based on the color available on the original Bronco.
The more expensive Heritage Limited Edition derives from the Bronco Sport lineup’s off-road-focused Badlands package, which features a larger turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, two additional GOAT modes, a torque-vectoring rear differential and a lockable center clutch. pack for all-wheel drive system. Our Peak Blue sample is one of three paint colors available, the others being the lighter Robin’s Egg Blue and the intense Yellowstone Metallic.
Heritage Limited Edition–special features include larger 29-inch all-terrain tires, leather-trimmed seats and white door inserts. Retro-style plaques adorn the center console, while metal Bronco door badges in classic ’60s script catch the eye.
Despite being based on the modest C2 unibody platform used in the Escape SUV and Maverick pickup, the Bronco Sport proved unexpectedly capable off-road, with its 2.0-liter 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque making light work of steep ditches, embedded rocks, and sand. in that form the Johnson Valley region of the Mojave Desert. (So much off-road development of the model took place here that Ford chose to include geographic coordinates from the area as an Easter egg hidden in the rear hatch trim molding.)
Aluminum skid plates, part of the standard Badlands equipment package, ease concerns about the Bronco Sport’s underbody with spiky terrain elements. Despite the Sport’s modest ride height, its 8.8-inches of ground clearance (on 235/65R-17 tires, the largest model available) proved plenty adequate for brisk desert driving in comfort as we followed in the footsteps of our dusty driver, Melissa. He’s well versed in the Bronco Sport’s abilities, having taken a stock Bronco Sport Badlands to first place in the 1500-mile off-road Rebelle Rally in 2021 and 2022.
It’s the suspension that makes the Bronco Sport, and while there are plenty of off-road driving modes, the SUV handles soft trails well in its standard driving mode. Locking all-wheel drive and rear differential are more than enough to confidently thrash through the deeper sand.
However, all of that is equally true of the less retro-tastic Badlands model. At $46,250, the Heritage Limited Edition comes fully equipped, bringing nearly $5000 worth of features that are optional in the Badlands. The screen comes off, and you see that retro look carries a premium of about $2000. One step down, the $34,245 Heritage Edition represents an additional charge of about $1500 over the equivalent Big Bend model.
Is that worth it? Well, a few miles east of where we’re driving this Bronco Sport, classic, stock and modified Broncos fill the viewing area of this year’s King of the Hammers desert road racing competition. For off-road enthusiasts, the appeal of those classic Broncos, the reborn Bronco, and this offshoot of the Bronco Sport are wrapped in a combination of capability and aesthetics. The Bronco Sports Heritage Edition relies more on the latter, but doesn’t detract from the former.
2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Edition
Vehicle Type: front engine, all wheel drive, 5 passenger, 4 door wagon
Foundation: Heritage, $34,245; Heritage Limited, $46,250
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve 1.5-liter inline-3, 181 hp, 190 lb-ft; turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inine-4, 250 hp, 277 lb-ft
Wheelbase: 105.1 in
Length: 172.7 in
Width: 74.3 inches
Height: 70.2–71.4 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 53–56/50 feet3
Curb weight (C/D estimate): 3600–3800 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 5.9–8.2 seconds
1/4-Mile: 14.5–16.3 seconds
Top Speed: 125 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 23–26/21–25/26–28 mpg