Honda CR-V Hybrid Sidles into Our Long-Term Fleet

We begin a 40,000-mile shakedown of Honda's first electrified crossover to see if the powertrain scales up into the brand's bestselling vehicle.


We invited a 2021 Honda CR-V to join our long-term fleet so we could spend some quality time (and 40,000 miles) with Honda's bestseller and the fifth-bestselling vehicle in the United States. We chose the hybrid because it's new to the lineup and because we liked the 212-hp fuel-sipping powertrain in the Accord. In the CR-V, the system boosts fuel economy and performance, making it the choice for buyers who want efficiency and power. Those customers will have to shell out for it, though, given the CR-V Hybrid sits at the top of the range. In addition to shaking down the powertrain and seeing if it can deliver the promised fuel economy, we're hoping this compact crossover—the brand's first with hybrid power to make it to the U.S.—will give us a glimpse at the future of Honda, which will soon phase out gas-only powertrains in Europe.

We ordered a top-of-the-line Touring model loaded with just about everything: leather seats (heated up front), navigation, wireless phone charging, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, a nine-speaker audio system, a liftgate that opens when you wave your foot under the bumper, proximity key entry, remote start, the Honda Sensing suite of driver-assistance features, and more. Our $37,920 example has but one option: white paint for $395. Perhaps it's because all of southeast Michigan is currently covered in two feet of snow or because half the vehicles in the grocery-store parking lot are also painted in America's favorite automotive hue (and shaped like tall boxes), but the CR-V blends in a little too well with its surroundings. We wouldn't call the color choice regrettable but maybe a bit forgettable.

Inside, Honda's inoffensive design, easy-to-use 7.0-inch touchscreen, and highly adjustable center console should satisfy most shoppers in this class if not the nit-pickiest staffers on our masthead. Hybrid versions differ from regular CR-Vs in a few subtle ways. A unitless battery gauge replaces the tachometer in the digital instrument cluster and tells you vaguely how much juice you're using at any given moment. Honda also opted for a push-button transmission instead of the chunky gear lever used in the core model. Staff reaction to push-button shifters is mixed, but the setup at least makes for a tidy, unobtrusive center console. In the same way a light color creates the illusion that a room is larger than it is, the Ivory surfaces in our CR-V make the cabin appear adequately spacious, which, granted, it is, offering 103 cubic feet of passenger volume. Provided that light-beige leather can withstand the dye in our Levis, the simplicity of this interior all but ensures it will age well.

A couple of hybrid caveats to note: Choosing this powertrain nullifies the nonhybrid CR-V's 1500-pound tow rating, so technical editor David Beard will have to look elsewhere when he wants to tow his snowmobile. Which is just as well, considering the cargo hold probably wouldn't fit all of his gear. The gas-electric CR-V sacrifices six cubic feet of cargo space (and its spare tire) to the battery. The upside is that, compared with a regular all-wheel-drive CR-V, you gain 9 mpg in combined driving by the EPA's yardstick. That said, if you drive like we do, you can expect much worse results: We're currently averaging a mere 27 mpg.

The Honda's road manners are in line with the amiable-but-boring norm of the segment. Its smooth ride and secure handling are immediately apparent, but there's nothing here that'll make an enthusiast grin—unless of course you're reading its VIN, which by dumb luck contains a bit of bathroom humor. Floor the accelerator and the powertrain fills the cabin with 75 decibels of sound. That's quieter than the regular CR-V's 78-decibel moan at full throttle.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we haven't had as many butts in these seats as we'd like, but after soft-shoeing it through the break-in period, we sent the Honda to the test track. The hybrid's drive motor can contribute 232 pound-feet of torque from the get-go, which helps this ute reach 60 mph a tenth of a second quicker than the unelectrified model, but the latter catches up by 70 mph and pips the hybrid at the quarter-mile, 15.9 seconds to 16.1. Our long-termer also lagged behind the regular CR-V in braking (170 feet versus 165) and roadholding (0.80 g versus 0.85). Given both cars wear identical Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires, we suspect the hybrid's extra 190 pounds are primarily to blame. Fortunately, in the real world, this CR-V seems more athletic than the gas-only version, and its quicker 5-to-60-mph time bears that out. As we put more miles on the odometer, we hope to see some of these numbers improve—particularly the observed fuel economy.

Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 5131 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 27 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 14.0 gal Observed Fuel Range: 370 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0


When we speak about Honda Pilot, then we spoke about the largest and most capable SUV. It fits in the midsize three-row crossover category, but it offers slightly more rear-seat room than many rivals. There's plenty of cargo room too, with enough space behind the third row to carry a weekend trip's worth of luggage for every passenger. We're also impressed by the Pilot's fuel-efficient but powerful engine and exceptional ride and seat comfort.

The main competitors of the new 2022 Honda Pilot are: Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Volkswagen Atlas, Chevy Traverse, Ford Explorer. If we expire the parameters and then we should pay intention on Mazda CX-9 as well.

The current generation of Honda Pilot debuted back in 2016 and went through a light freshening in 2019 that included updated front and rear designs, a revamped cabin, a new infotainment system with a real volume knob, and more. This look has remained the same since, and we expect it to stay unchanged when the 2022 Pilot hits showrooms.

We expect no design changes when the 2022 Honda Pilot rolls into showrooms, so look for it to continue with the same revamped look it gained in 2019. This updated look included a new trapezoidal grille, revised fog lights, updated headlights, repositioned reverse lights, and a new rear garnish on higher trims. Inside, the update included a new steering wheel, updated gauge readouts, and more. The refreshed tech included the addition of 4G Wi-Fi, enlarged rear-seat entertainment screens, a physical volume knob, and an in-cabin PA system.

2022 Honda Pilot engine

Under its hood, we expect the 2022 Honda Pilot to retain its 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280 horsepower. This engine will continue to pair with a six-speed automatic transmission that’ll deliver power to the front wheels or all four wheels with optional all-wheel drive.

Like many Honda models, the current Pilot is among the safest vehicles in its class, and the IIHS solidifies this with a Top Safety Pick rating. It received “Good” crash-test ratings in all tests other than the passenger-side small-overlap test, which is received an “Acceptable” rating in. It also received a “Good” rating for its LED headlights in the Touring and Elite models. Rounding out the ratings is its “Superior”-rated standard automatic emergency braking system. Other standard safety gear includes adaptive cruise control and active lane control. We expect the safety equipment and ratings to remain the same in the 2022 Pilot.

2022 Honda Pilot Price and Release date

There is no official on-sale date for the 2022 Honda Pilot. Considering situation with Coronavirus (Covid-19), we anticipate the release date should be at summer 2021.

Pricing is also unconfirmed, but with no changes coming, we expect it to remain close to the current MSRP range of $32,770 to $50,840 (destination fees included).

Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Brings Upscale Efficiency

A smooth gas-electric powertrain, quiet cabin, and premium features give Hyundai's updated mid-size crossover an edge.

 Unlike Toyota, Hyundai isn't really known for its hybrids. Although its Ioniq hatchback is a solid shot across the Prius's bow, Hyundai doesn't broadly tout the fuel-sipping virtues of its hybrid powertrains, instead focusing on its familiar narrative of value and accessible luxury. But perhaps that's changing. Over the past year, the company has rolled out hybrid versions of several of its popular models, including the Sonata family sedan, the Elantra compact car, and the Tucson and Santa Fe SUVs.
2021 hyundai santa fe hybrid limited awd

HIGHS: Smooth handoff from electric to gas power, premium cabin, confident road manners.

At the test track, our all-wheel-drive Limited test ute got to 60 mph in a decent 7.5 seconds and sailed through the quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds at 90 mph. These numbers are close to the Santa Fe hybrid's only direct rival, the Toyota Venza, which was a bit slower in both metrics. Don't worry that the gas-electric Santa Fe is 1.5 seconds slower to 60 mph than the more-powerful turbocharged Calligraphy model we last tested. The immediate throttle response of the hybrid's electric motor at slower speeds makes it feel plenty eager in normal driving. Not only that, but the handoff between gasoline and electric power is virtually seamless. Only occasionally did we notice a slight thud as the four-cylinder deactivated while coasting to a stop, indicating that the power source had changed.

2021 hyundai santa fe hybrid limited awd

The Santa Fe Hybrid's cabin is impressively hushed. We measured a quiet 68 decibels at 70 mph, and the 69-decibel level it produces at full throttle is a substantial 7 decibels quieter than the non-hybrid turbocharged 2.5-liter version. But its ambiance is occasionally disturbed by Michigan's heavily pockmarked asphalt, which the suspension doesn't always dampen out. Otherwise, the handling of our test car on its 19-inch Continental CrossContact LX Sport all-season tires was similar to what we experienced in the regular model. The 0.82 g of grip we measured on the skidpad is adequate, although we'd prefer a shorter stop from 70 mph than the hybrid's 183 feet—some eight feet longer than the standard model. From behind the wheel, there's a feeling of solidity that reminds us of premium SUVs such as the BMW X5, and our test vehicle was decked out with features that bolster that impression.

LOWS: Not as fuel efficient as a Toyota Venza, unremarkable acceleration, occasional suspension shutters over rough roads.

2021 hyundai santa fe hybrid limited awd
Our Black Noir-painted example featured comfortable leather-trimmed seats with an upscale quilted pattern on the backrests. Dual digital displays serve as gauges, and infotainment and other luxuries—such as a Harman Kardon stereo and a large panoramic sunroof—added to the upscale vibe. Some cheaper plastics can be found on the lower, less-visible sections of the door panels and center console, but the top Limited trim easily meets the expectations set by its $41,135 base price. Even at the entry-level Blue model's $34,835 starting point, the Santa Fe hybrid is nicely finished.

But a hybrid also needs to deliver on fuel economy, and the Santa Fe's EPA estimates of 33 mpg city and 30 mpg highway are well below the Venza's 40/37 mpg ratings. We tested both vehicles on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test and recorded 31 mpg for the Hyundai and 36 mpg for the Toyota. That said, the Santa Fe hybrid fares notably better than some nonhybrid alternatives, such as the Honda Passport and the aforementioned Santa Fe Calligraphy, both of which managed 27 mpg in the same test. We averaged 28 mpg during the course of our car's loan.

2021 hyundai santa fe hybrid limited awd
While the auto industry as a whole is moving toward electric-only driving, hybrids such as the Santa Fe offer a means for range-anxious buyers to test the waters. This Hyundai's biggest issue is that it shares showroom space with the 2022 Tucson hybrid, which is nearly as spacious, just as nicely outfitted, and slightly cheaper. A plug-in-hybrid Santa Fe will join the lineup for the 2022 model year, but it'll only be sold in select states. We'll also likely see an all-electric Santa Fe-sized SUV at some point as Hyundai expands its Ioniq range of electric vehicles, starting next year with the Ioniq 5. Until then, the updated Santa Fe hybrid is an attractive two-row crossover with a premium cabin, a well-integrated hybrid powertrain, and above-average fuel efficiency.

Hyundai Bayon price and spec details

Hyundai's latest SUV set to arrive in the UK this summer

Details about the Hyundai Bayon SUV have been revealed, and it is due to go on sale in the UK in the summer of 2021. It’s designed to be a belated replacement to the ix20, brings with it some big car technology, and is designed to sit alongside the Kona in the Korean firm's multi-SUV line-up.

The Bayon is powered by a range of petrol-only engines, the most powerful of which is a mild-hybrid. It's going to need to impress, as it has a huge number of rivals to fight off for your cash, taking on everything from Ford’s Puma to the Peugeot 2008, Nissan Juke and new Vauxhall Mokka. As a Hyundai, it comes with a comprehensive five-year warranty, and impressive reputation for reliability and build quality.

Unlike the ix20, the Bayon’s exterior can’t be described as anonymous, which is something that’s almost a requirement in order to stick out in one of the most crowded areas of the car market. There are some familiar Hyundai cues here: split headlights at the front like the Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe, and a glass-heavy rear end with very interesting kinks in the surfacing.

What's it like inside?
The interior has a lot of the design details shared with the recently-launched the i20 hatchback: big screen in the centre, digital dials, straked vents that stretch across the width of the dashboard.

You get a choice of 8.0- or 10.25-inch infotainment screens. The entry-level version includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In addition, a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel is available with different graphics, depending on the drive mode and the driver selection.

It also comes with the latest version of Hyundai’s Bluelink online connected set-up, which gives you real-time data for journey planning, you can create user profiles for all the people who drive it, and there's even a calendar to which you can add your Google and Apple meetings too. You can locate, lock, and unlock the car remotely using the Bluelink app on your smartphone.

As for interior space, it’s about average in terms of roominess in the Bayon, with a 411-litre boot – a little smaller than you’d get on a Nissan Juke or Ford Puma. It comes with an 'intelligent' luggage cover that can be slid along the rear of the back seat to fully separate the passenger compartment from the boot area.

What's it like to drive?
We've yet to try the Bayon in the UK, but our colleagues at Auto Zeitung in Germany have driven the 1.0-litre mild-hybrid version. The electrification means that this 120hp model is unusually quiet for a three-cylinder engine, although the 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds and maximum speed aren't that impressive compared with its rivals, especially its in-house rival, the Kona.

It gets good marks for its agility in the city - it's zippy and easy to steer - but it also performs well on A-roads and motorways. We'll learn more in the coming weeks and months once we try a wider selection of models in the range.

What models and trims are available?
There’s no hybrid – plug-in or regular – here, neither is there an electric variant like the Vauxhall Mokka-e or Peugeot e-2008. Instead, there’s a base-spec 1.2-litre petrol, but the (slightly) more interesting options come in the shape of a 1.0-litre turbo with either 100 or 120hp – the latter of which has mild-hybrid assistance. There’s no diesel option.

Go for one of these and you have the choice of a six-speed ‘intelligent’ manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

That manual option allows at-speed coasting when you release the accelerator – something usually reserved for the most sophisticated automatics - in order to boost fuel efficiency. When put into Sport mode, the intelligent manual also has rev matching – something only seen thus far on Hyundai’s N performance range.

What else should I know?
The Bayon is strong on safety features, with Hyundai claiming it to be 'best in class' in terms of features. It comes with Hyundai's SmartSense safety package, which includes Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control (NSCC), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), and Lane Following Assist (LFA).

Prices aren’t confirmed yet, but expect the Bayon to start with a cash price of around £18,000. That makes it cheaper than the Nissan Juke and Ford Puma, but close to the Skoda Kamiq and, of course, the Hyundai Kona. The firm says the Bayon will be available in summer 2021.


Hyundai Santa Fe 2.5T Pushes Toward Luxury

In top Calligraphy trim, Hyundai's new Santa Fe two-row crossover has luxury aspirations and a strong, 277-hp turbo engine.

It is hard for a car lover to get excited about the two-row mid-sized crossover segment. And although we're not happy to admit it, unexciting and practical is exactly what a lot of car buyers want and need. Speaking of need, while we were on our way back from a Costco run in the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe, we spotted a BMW Z3 with the top down and a massive, framed poster riding shotgun. The driver probably has more stories to tell about that Z3 than most crossover owners, but while we were looking enviously at his roadster, he probably cast a wanting eye on our practical and spacious Santa Fe. It's also entirely possible he never saw the Santa Fe as his poster was blocking most of the view to his right.

While a five-passenger near-luxury crossover may never be what we daydream about, so far in 2021 the Santa Fe has been Hyundai's second-bestselling vehicle, only a few hundred units behind the Tucson, Hyundai's slightly smaller crossover. Hyundai's compact Elantra slightly outsold the Santa Fe in 2020, but its sales are down 26 percent compared to the first two months of 2020. If crossovers are to be Hyundai's future, the recently redesigned Santa Fe is a fine emissary.

 The Santa Fe starts at $28,035 for the base SE with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive adds $1700. From there the rungs climb through the SEL and Limited before reaching the top-shelf Calligraphy. The $43,440 Calligraphy model that made the rounds in the office came packed with standard features. The only extra was a $155 set of carpeted floor mats. Hyundai introduced the high-spec Calligraphy trim level in the Palisade, and now it is trickling down to the Santa Fe. Calligraphy adds quilted leather seats, a panoramic roof, all the driver-assistance technology inattentive drivers crave including lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and an adaptive cruise-control system.

The front seats are supportive, and there's plenty of space to store small items, including a dedicated slot for your phone. But the new push-button shifter will take some getting used to.

The rear seat isn't as pleasant a place. While the legroom is good, there's a lack of headroom for anyone approaching six feet. The second row is outfitted and trimmed just as nicely as the first row, but the panoramic roof removes 1.2 inches of headroom. There's ample cargo space, and the Santa Fe will easily support a trip to the picture-framing shop or the luggage of four road-tripping folks.

A 277-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder is standard on Limited and Calligraphy models, lesser Santa Fes have a 191-hp naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four. The turbocharged engine has 42 more horsepower than the previous gen's turbocharged 2.0-liter four. The new turbo-four and the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission work together seamlessly. Runs to 60 mph take a quick 6.0 seconds, and the transmission readily downshifts and helps the Santa Fe move from 50 to 70 mph in 4.1 seconds. That sprint to 60 mph is just behind the 280-hp Honda Passport's 5.8-second dash and noticeably quicker than the 6.8-second effort we recorded in a Ford Edge Titanium with a 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four.

At the track, we measured 0.81 g overall on the skidpad, which bests the Passport's 0.78 g of lateral stick but trails the Edge's 0.83. The Santa Fe's steering is heavier than the numb and lighter steering in many crossovers. On the highway, there are no dead spots or latency to speak of. It's no Alfa Romeo, but it's responsive and a victor in this segment. The ride can tend towards jittery depending on the road, and you may catch the rear seatbacks jiggling along in the rearview mirror. Our tester arrived with 19-inch wheels rather than the 20s that most Calligraphy models will have in the future, so the 20s might be even harsher. If you'd like your Santa Fe set up that way, too, act fast. Hyundai is selling 19-inch versions as a "limited availability" variant of the Calligraphy, and you'll get a $200 discount for forgoing the bigger wheels. Hyundai hasn't explained why the 20s aren't out yet, but our money is on supply-chain disruptions.

With the cruise set at 75 mph, the Santa Fe returned 27 mpg over a 200-mile highway drive, a single mpg shy of the EPA's estimate. And over almost 400 miles of real-world driving (much of it around town but some of it on uncongested highways), it returned 20 mpg, one short of the Santa Fe's EPA city rating. A Passport returns EPA numbers of 19 city and 24 highway, and an Edge with the 2.0-liter turbo comes in at 20 city and 28 highway.

The worst mid-size crossovers are dull and soulless enough to sap your soul. The Santa Fe is different. Its exterior design is original and attractive. Aside from the occasionally jittery ride, the Santa Fe drives and behaves in a refined and almost engaging manner. We've yet to sample the naturally aspirated Santa Fe or the new hybrid powertrain, but based on what we know of the rest of Hyundai's product portfolio, they're probably nicer inside than their price tags suggest. Every car in this segment asks buyers to make sacrifices in the name of convenience, but the Santa Fe demands less and gives more than many others in its class. If you're not ready for or don't need the Palisade and Telluride's three rows, the Santa Fe should get you home from the framing shop without drawing too much attention.

New Hyundai Kona 2021 review

The Hyundai Kona has been revised for 2021 and we find out just how much it's improved

The updates to the Hyundai Kona improve its overall experience, with an efficient and effective mild-hybrid powertrain, a more composed and comfortable ride, and some useful tech upgrades in the cabin. But these gains aren’t enough to shove the car to the front of the pack; the Kona still isn’t as good to drive as the best small SUVs, and it continues to lag behind the likes of the Renault Captur and Ford Puma on practicality.

Hyundai will soon have an embarrassment of riches in the small SUV class. The Korean brand has a new offering, the Bayon, on the way in the coming months. And it will be joining a facelifted version of the Kona in the line-up.

Here, then, is the revised version of Hyundai’s ‘original’ small SUV. It’s had a little more than the typical mid-life nip and tuck too; yes, the usual updates like headlights and bumpers are present and correct, but there’s also a redesigned bonnet, and the changes are sufficient to make this car around 40mm longer overall than the outgoing version. The overall effect is to give the car a slightly more aggressive, chunky stance - perhaps even making it more of a crossover and less of a baby SUV. There’s also a new N Line trim level that tries to add a sporty look.

Under the bonnet, the Kona gets an updated range of engines. The 1.6-litre turbo unit at the top of the line-up gains some extra power, moving up to 195bhp, and the diesel motor (yes, here’s a car still available with one) gains a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

The same tech is also available as an option on the Kona’s 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine - and it’s this powertrain that we’re driving here. The engine itself produces 118bhp, and is the same unit that is likely to appear in higher-end i20s later this year.

The hybrid system uses an integrated starter/generator and a small lithium-ion battery to give the combustion engine a boost when pulling away from rest. It also benefits, though, from Hyundai’s Intelligent Manual Transmission - a six-speed manual gearbox that has no physical connection between the clutch pedal and the clutch. This sensor-based solution means that the engine can be switched off when the car is cruising along - and then fired up again, thanks to the 48-volt hybrid tech, when required.

It’s a complex piece of engineering but in practice works extremely well. You won’t feel much extra shove when starting off but once you’re up and running, you’ll have to rely on the visual cues on the instrument panel - the rev-counter needle flicking up and down - to tell that the engine is being cut in and out. It’s incredibly smooth in its transition - astonishingly so when you think that you can be doing 70mph at the time.

The engine has enough power to cope with a car of the Kona’s size, but not quite enough to ever make it feel like it’s capable of really punchy performance. The 0-62mph dash takes a leisurely 11.9 seconds - making the electrified version of this engine slower than the non-hybrid edition in either manual or auto form. It’s more efficient, though, with claimed average economy of 46.3mpg, and based on our experience with the car, this should be achievable in everyday use.

The Kona has also received tweaks to its chassis and suspension, and while they’re not enough to transform the car into a vehicle with real appeal for keen drivers, they do give the model a bit more dynamic polish. The most pleasing development of all is better bump absorption, making the Kona an effective tool on scarred urban roads, even on our Ultimate model’s 18-inch alloy wheels.

Body control feels a little tighter than before too, so while the inert steering and taller body still don’t really play ball and deliver enjoyment on twisty roads, the overall package feels like a more effective compromise than it did before. It’s a result, we’d like to think, of the UK testing instigated by Hyundai’s head of vehicle dynamics, ex-BMW M division man Albert Biermann.

In the cabin the biggest upgrade comes in tech, thanks to a new 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, as seen first in the all-new i20. It’s crisp and easy to use - an ideal companion, in fact, for the similarly sized infotainment system that comes as standard on this Ultimate trim level. It remains one of the best set-ups you’ll find in any vehicle, frankly, with clear graphics, a great interface and quick responses to inputs. Recent upgrades have improved its connectivity further, thanks to fresh functionality in Hyundai’s Bluelink phone application.

The rest of the cabin gets some new materials but they don’t do much to lift the overall experience. It’s not that it’s badly screwed together or lacking soft-touch fabrics in key areas; it’s just that the fascia is a sea of black, grey and dark grey plastic, with only the very occasional flash of chrome to brighten proceedings.

Nor, it must be said, has the facelift done anything to address one of the Kona’s key weaknesses: rear packaging. Two adults can fit in there, even behind a couple of six-footers, but once in place, they’re unlikely to thank you for anything approaching a long journey.

The boot remains pretty unimpressive too - not helped, still, by a relatively high floor that’s designed to accommodate the circuitry of the hybrid and pure-electric editions. The Kona’s capacity is 374 litres, so it isn’t going to challenge the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 or Ford Puma on practicality.


Ford Kuga SUV review: PHEV and diesel versions driven

They say to understand where you’re going you need to know where you came from, but so stark is the contrast between this third-generation Ford Kuga and the Blue Oval’s first European mid-sized SUV – the developed-with-Nissan Maverick of 1993 – that the scholastic learning is worthy of a Masters dissertation in crossover evolution.

In fact, it’s quite the leap from its immediate eight-year-old predecessor, having grown (89mm longer, 44mm wider), yet become more lithe (6mm lower, up to 80kg lighter) in the process.

Doesn’t it look, you know, very Focusy?
As with both previous iterations of Kuga, the Mk3 shares its platform componentry with the contemporary Focus, but this time around the styling closely apes its hatchback sibling. Perhaps too much so.

Lucid Red 2020 Ford Kuga ST-Line First Edition PHEV side elevation driving

It looks softer, less aggressive, with a lower window and bonnet line than before, giving the impression that it is a Focus that’s been stretched vertically – there’s a fine amount of headroom, incidentally.

Plus, if you opt for an ST-Line or Vignale trim level – this is an ST-Line First Edition in the pictures – there’s so much colour-coding going on that the Kuga loses some of the visual toughness associated with unpainted plastic bumper mouldings and wheelarches. You’ll have to stick to the lower end of the range if you favour those cues. Or buy a Focus Active…

How’re those Focus underpinnings working out?
Very nicely. We’ve previously lauded Kugas for their handling prowess among others in a segment where it’s previously been high on the R&D wish list. Certainly, while the competition’s caught up considerably, the latest Kuga still noses ahead.

It’s not quite the zesty class leader the latest Ford Puma is in the category below, but we’d go as far as to say that the Mk3 Kuga is a better drive than many Focus hatchback derivatives.

Sorry, I nearly sprayed my tea everywhere – better than a Focus?
Absolutely – don’t forget the majority of the Focus line-up makes do with a less-sophisticated torsion beam arrangement out back, whereas all Kugas benefit from all-round independent suspension.

Lucid Red 2020 Ford Kuga ST-Line First Edition PHEV front three-quarter driving

In short, not only does the Kuga feel superbly composed when tackling a series of sweeping bends – aided and abetted by feelsome, if a tad light, steering – body control is well-contained, too, ensuring it doesn’t list around corners like a vessel on the Solent.

Ride quality is the other beneficiary of the trick suspension, although it’s slightly compromised by the firmer damping arrangement on ST-Line models with their Sports set-ups. Still, the 60-profile rubber further irons-out the sharpness of most road surface imperfections.

What’s new on the engine front, then?
It’s a blend of EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel powerplants familiar from across the Ford line-up, with all but the pokiest 188bhp oil burner available solely with front-wheel drive. If you’re considering using a Kuga where the asphalt runs out, you’re off-roading wrong.

More importantly, Ford’s finally getting its act together in terms of electrification: there’s an EcoBlue mild-hybrid with a 48-volt system, plus the plug-in hybrid range-topper tested here. There’s also a non-plug-in version of the same package.

Unlike rivals’ PHEV offerings where a tiny turbo petrol motor’s used, Ford’s plumped for a 2.5-litre four-pot operating on the more efficient Atkinson cycle. Rather than the electrical powertrain components simply being added to the engine as a bolt-on, here the two work as a package: the electrical energy is used to compensate for the lack of a forced induction system at lower revs, with the engine joining in when it can do so efficiently.

Together the power units produce 222bhp, with the electric motor accounting for 108bhp of that, confirming the unstressed nature of the engine. Ford claims over 200mpg under the latest, more rigorous WLTP testing regime, but once you’ve sapped the batteries, a figure closer to 40mpg is more likely in the real world.

Various driving models are on offer, as well as the ability to store electrical energy ready for driving in a ULEZ area. Officially, the 14.4kWh battery pack will serve up to 35 miles of zero-emissions driving and should only take around three hours to charge on a dedicated wallbox.

It’s brisk, rather than quick – the 188bhp diesel Kuga’s faster, stat fans – but at 32g/km of CO2 this one’s going to have user choosers drooling in a way Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV simply doesn’t.

Channelling that grunt to the forward axle is a Ford-developed CVT transmission, with artificial ratios within its software to mimic a more conventional automatic. It works to a degree, but it still causes the engine to work harder at lower speeds, which sounds loud and gruff in the process.

How easy is the Kuga to live with?
In typical Ford fashion: very. That it’s a Focus facsimile inside – albeit roomier – is not a shock, so it’s very easy to use, if not the most exciting dashboard to look at. Acres of black plastic and fabric doesn’t help give it much sparkle, either.

More importantly, it’s riddled with cubbies and sensibly shaped mouldings to keep all manner of cabin detritus located securely. Plus, there’s a smattering of USB points, an optional three-pin domestic plug socket and an available smartphone wireless charging plate with its own rubberised well.

Lucid Red 2020 Ford Kuga ST-Line First Edition PHEV dashboard viewed from passenger side

Back seat occupants are especially well catered for in what Ford claims to be the roomiest C-segment SUV for those in the rear. It feels spacious, even on models without a glazed roof, a feat improved further by a sliding 60:40 split rear bench that also reclines.

Boot space is also generous, but the flimsy, fabric loadspace cover – which completely lifts out of the way when the tailgate’s open – smacks of requiring a Heath-Robinson trademark label.

Packed with tech
Whether it’s technology to keep you safer on the roads, such as the various driver-assistance systems that contributed to the Kuga’s five-star EuroNCAP rating, or it’s a slicker, higher resolution edition of the Sync 3 multimedia touchscreen with colours that at last don’t look like they’ve been through a boil wash, most versions are well kitted-out.

Titanium versions upwards feature a generous equipment roster, but we’d especially pick out the quad-projector LED headlamps as an extra worthy of serious consideration.

ST-Line models and higher also have a very slick 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s configurable and changes colour depending on the driving mode. Most also include an icon of the rear of a Mondeo – well, Fusion, really – but Sport is illustrated by a Mustang GT and Sand/Snow with an F-150 pick-up. Neat touch.

Don't forget the mild hybrid!
As Ford ups its electric game – even unveiling an EV version of its F-150 pick-up in the US – it’s easy to overlook the modest-sounding mild-hybrid version of the Kuga. Especially as it’s a diesel – yes, those old things.

Lurking in the middle of a line-up that also includes petrol, diesel, ‘self-charging’ hybrid and plug-in hybrid, the EcoBlue Hybrid version of the Kuga works extremely well on the road, and for many it could also be the version that consistently delivers true economy and efficiency.

It’s based on Ford’s 148bhp four-cylinder turbodiesel. The alternator is replaced by a multi-tasking belt-driven integrated starter-generator. It captures energy from braking and coasting, storing it in a 48-volt battery. That energy makes the automatic stop-start system more effective; it can be used to support the engine; and it helps run various electrical ancillaries.

The BISG works as a motor, but takes up little space and adds little weight. Similarly, the 48V battery has a modest capacity – it doesn’t allow electric-only driving – but it’s enough to help ease the load on the engine, reducing emissions and improving fuel consumption. And it does that throughout every journey, unlike a PHEV, which only works at its best if charged frequently.

On our brief test drive, we couldn’t match the official 55.4mpg, but we did manage figures in the high 40s, which is impressive considering that we were gettting a move on, and enjoying the EcoBlue unit’s hearty pulling power. On the move it’s smooth and quiet, and married to a six-speed manual gearbox that’s slick enough to encourage frequent shifting, so you keep the engine in its sweet spot.

Ford Kuga: verdict
So, how much is all this going to set you back? The Kuga line-up starts at £26,445, and carries on almost as far as £40k. So it's not the cheapest of relatively compact mainstream crossovers. But why should it be? It drives well, it's well equipped and has an all-round air of quality about it.

It’s going to have user choosers reaching the end of their Outlander PHEV leases clambering for a more satisfying SUV to drive.

In benefit-in-kind terms, a 20% rate taxpayer’s only going to be looking at a £60 monthly bill to run one as a company car. Expect to see a lot of these on the road, and know that the drivers are enjoying more than just good real-world value – it's also good to drive.


The Empire Strikes Back - Ford is the new model F-150 Raptor

While the rest of the world still sees pickup trucks as "prehistoric" work vehicles whose sole purpose is to do work on farms or construction sites, Americans have long found a way to make them civilized enough to be in every garage "across the pond." parked one copy.

The trend actually began in the late 1970s when pickups first received identical equipment from passenger cars, so American buyers quickly realized that they could use such vehicles for transportation to the office on weekdays and then for small chores around the house or weekend fun.

During the nineties, the trend spread to high-performance street racers, but no one dared to make an extreme SUV that will be able to compete on the world's largest "off-road" tracks. And then, in 2008, Ford debuted with the release of the Raptor bestseller F-150 and once again changed the way the "Yankees" see pickups.

There really was no such extreme racer in that period, and how good the Raptor is is perhaps best confirmed by the fact that one of the series finished second in the very demanding Baja 1000 race, which is considered the second biggest field competition after the Dakar Rally.

Ford will say it has sold more Raptors in the last twelve years than Chevrolet has delivered units of the Corvette sports model. Although at first glance these two vehicles have nothing in common, their price is almost identical, so they attract customers with an equally deep pocket.

The Raptor also now has competition and a look at the Ram 1500 TRX from Fiat-Chrysler Corporation, whose 702 horsepower looks impressive in addition to Ford's "only" 450 "throats". The second largest American manufacturer is now arriving with the new Raptor and wants to be in the spotlight again.

At first glance, the novelty still doesn’t seem to match the TRX, but Ford assures us that it doesn’t all lie in raw figures such as engine power and acceleration from standstill to 100 km / h in the direction. For starters, the company says that mass is the biggest enemy of high performance, so the solution is not to add strength but to reduce the weight of the truck. And the Raptor definitely delights in that category as it weighs "only" 2,475 kilograms.

We say "only" because the stated figure is as much as 400 "kilos" lower compared to the Rama thanks to the aluminum construction of the chassis and shell. Perhaps such a figure still seems insignificant, but for vehicles that spend a lot of time "in the air", every gram is worth paying attention to.

The Raptor is not only significantly lighter than the TRX but also dominates in terms of ground clearance. For example, the Raptor boasts 37-inch tires, while those on the TRX are "only" 35-inch. Ford is also better in terms of overall ground clearance (38.1 by 35.5 centimeters) and has developed a suspension to be able to withstand the effort at greater angles. Translated into a simpler language, if you find yourself on difficult terrain from which you need to get out with a slower and planned ride - the Raptor is still the king of its segment.

The category we expected the most detail about is the one where Ford has yet to release information. It is, of course, an engine. The Raptor has in the past provided a 3.5-liter with 450 horsepower, which is significantly less than the 6.2-liter petrol with 702 “heads” in the TRX. Ford has announced to us that the novelty will continue to be available only with a V6 engine, at least initially, but its power is still unknown. It is quite certain that the number will be higher than in the past and we can optimistically hope that it will approach the figure of approximately 500 "horses".

Ford also said that the Raptor R with a V8 engine will arrive next year, and we are quite sure that it is a 5.2-liter model from the Mustang Shelby GT500 with 760 horsepower. In all cases, power is transmitted to all four wheels via a ten-speed automatic transmission.

We will mention another very interesting detail, and that is adjusting the driving style. We have already seen some of the regimes from them, such as Normal and Sport, while Baja serves to storm at high speeds through the desert parts of the American federal states of Arizona or Nevada.

But what is completely new is the so-called "Quiet" regime, or literally "Silence". It allows the Raptor to become even more civilized and not wake up your neighbors if you come home late in the evening or early morning.

The design changes are as we expected. Although the Raptor may look like a standard F-150, the two vehicles actually share only a roof and headlights. Every other stylish part was developed especially for the SUV and we will easily recognize it by aggressive details such as the radiator grille and hood. The interior and equipment have not changed significantly, so we recommend that you read the earlier edition of the new fourteenth generation, where we described in detail what new technology the F-150 brings.

In any case, production will start in the summer, and the new Raptor will arrive in showrooms in October.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review: a new breed

 Ford’s latest pony car is a near-silent, totally environment-friendly galloper shaped like a crossbreed cocktail of Aintree winner and steeplechase champion. Badged Mustang like millions of great American sports cars launched since the nameplate first popped up in 1964, the Mach-E is heralded as decidedly dynamic EV which puts street cred above cabin acreage and presence before lollipop aerodynamics.

Best electric SUVs

Similar to the reborn Bronco, the e-CUV is designated to build a bridge between the brand’s glory years and a planet-friendlier tomorrow. Question is, where exactly does the electric Ford rank in the fast growing catch-up queue which includes new arrivals like the VW ID.4 and the Volvo XC40 Recharge?

Give me a spec debrief

Designed in Dearborn, the Mach-E is arguably not quite centrefold pretty but well proportioned, functional and unmistakably Ford; like a grown up Kuga with pursed painted lips and a nicely rounded rear end with Mustang-style taillights.

The cosseting cabin of the electric Ford is a notably more up-market suite on wheels than the loveless driver environment of the Tesla clad in plastified hide and jinxed with below-par build quality, the cheapo somewhat off-the-mark interior of the ID.4, or the iPace work station which appears to be different mainly for the sake of nonconformism. There’s a larger-than-life centre touchscreen running Ford’s new Sync 4 infotainment, complemented by a smaller rectangular display in the driver’s direct field of vision. With the exception of the rotary volume control, the buttons on the steering-wheel and the circular gear-selector first copyrighted by Jaguar, access to all MMI areas is by touchscreen and voice control.

Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment: does it work?

All first edition models (like our test car) of the Mach-E are already sold out, so your choice in the UK comprises Standard or Extended Range versions, both available with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Prices start at just over £40k before the plug-in car grant has been applied.

Here are the different versions:

Standard Range RWD: 265bhp, 6.1sec 0-62mph, claimed 273-mile range
Standard Range AWD 265bhp, 6.2sec 0-62mph, claimed 379-mile range
Extended Range RWD 290bhp, 5.6sec 0-62mph, claimed 248-mile range
Extended Range AWD: 346bhp, 5.1sec 0-62mph, claimed 335-mile range

Ford is also planning a Performance Edition, though that’s as-yet unconfirmed for the UK. For comparison, the most potent Mach-E is around four grand more expensive than the 340bhp Model Y AWD, which fields a less potent 72.5kWh battery but will accelerate in 5.1sec from 0-62mph, reach a top speed of 135mph and can charge with up to 250kW. While the blue oval effort is restricted to 111mph, it matches its key rival against the stopwatch, and it boasts 21 miles of extra distance.

Let’s drive!
Oddly, the first few miles disappoint. What’s wrong with this chewing-gum steering which feels as if a rope with a sack of potatoes attached to both ends was straddling the rack? Switching off the lane guidance fixes it: no more woolly self-centering now, no half-hearted auto-corrections, no vague feedback with increasing lock. The insurance companies love these assistance systems, committed drivers hate them.

After many hours behind the wheel, the steering no longer feels quite so odd, though that V-shaped self-centering phenomenon and the on-lock lightness have not gone away completely. Instead, assets like the pinpoint accuracy, the relatively tight turning circle of 11.6 metres and the balanced damping have come to the forefront.

The low-speed ride is knobbly, but that weighty skateboard underneath gets into a rhythm above 40mph. Composure remains flat at all times (thanks to the low centre of gravity and a pair of anti-roll bars), and the straight-line stability is as unperturbed as the car’s stance through hurried changes of direction, under hard braking and when staging a borderline overtaking act which is obviously never ever interrupted by a potentially critical upshift action.

How fast is it?
Well, to make the best use of the Mach-E is to play with the new drive modes, poetically named Whisper, Active and Untamed. In Whisper, the steering is too light and there is a Do Not Disturb sign dangling from the accelerator pedal. In contrast, Untamed cannot wait to unlock the high voltage corral and speed up the direction determinator, but the computer-generated driving noise sounds like the tumble dry programme of a distant washing machine, lift-off exaggerates that controversial one-pedal feel, and fake downshifts are the rule under braking. No, thanks. So, Active it is, which strikes a purposeful balance between relaxed and excited, makes coasting a way of life, subtly synchronizes the sensations telegraphed to your palms and feet. Sadly, there are no shift paddles to play with, be it to trigger instant energy regeneration or release momentum for a more emphatic flow.

Still in Active, the brakes are every bit as attentive as the throttle, the stopping power is strong and progressive, and despite repeated attempts we could not detect the exact transition point between electric and hydraulic deceleration. If anything, this time-warp energy-squashing system needs a strong right foot to combat the slowly rising pedal pressure.

Ford Mustang Mach-E: verdict
Ford’s first fully electric planet-saver is fun to drive, commendably efficient as well as cool to look at and to be seen in. The brittle low-speed ride and synthetic steering mark it down, but there’s a little more flair here than a Tesla Model Y.


Ford Bronco Sport Review: Who Ordered the Budget Land Rover?

The verdict: This Ford’s combination of on-road manners, genuine off-road ability, slick interior designs and rugged good looks make it a Land Rover for budget-minded buyers.

Versus the competition: The only compact SUV that comes close to what the Bronco Sport can do is the “trail-rated” Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, and even then, the Bronco costs less. Other compact SUVs might have more interior room, but they’re really meant only for on-road driving, not cross-country adventures like the Bronco Sport.

Yes, I know, we’re all very excited for the arrival of the 2021 Ford Bronco, and everyone’s just abuzz about it: How well does it go off-road? Is it better than a Wrangler? Is the top easy to take down? How heavy are the removable doors? And so on. But what we should keep in mind is that Ford introduced not one but two SUVs under the Bronco name: the “big” Bronco and this one, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport.

Here’s where the off-road purists start their lament: “Oh, that’s not a proper off-road vehicle,” they’ll say. “That’s just a Ford Escape with some off-road bits stapled to it.” And while that’s not entirely inaccurate, it’s also not the whole story. Ford has made a lot of hay about how the big Bronco is super-capable off-road, with tons of technology, best-in-class specs and some genuine trail cred. Then the company pasted that “Bronco” name onto the front of this smaller, compact SUV — and that should also tell you something about it.

The compact Bronco Sport does indeed share some of its hidden bits with the Escape (as well as the no-longer-sold-in-the-U.S. Focus sedan), but those are common structural parts no buyer will ever see, like the expensive-to-make firewall stamping and other underbody elements. The Bronco Sport is shorter than the Escape both in wheelbase and in overall length, sporting very different dimensions aimed at creating a highly capable off-road SUV meant to challenge the Jeep Cherokee. Along the way, Ford has thoroughly engineered the SUV to do things that will surprise a lot of off-road purists who think only a body-on-frame, super-lifted, rear-wheel-drive, truck-based monster can successfully conquer trails. After spending an afternoon in the Bronco Sport with free run over a challenging off-road park, I’m here to tell you it may be a better choice for an everyday off-roader than the big Bronco itself.

Let’s start with a quick discussion of the various types of Bronco Sport you can buy, as Ford has created five trim levels, each providing a different kind of experience. In order of increasing content, they are Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands and First Edition.

The Base trim is exactly that: a no-frills compact SUV featuring everything you need for adventure, including a peppy turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine cranking out 181 horsepower and 190 pounds-feet of torque. It’s mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels. It has all the basics, like an 8-inch display screen, 17-inch wheels, an electronic Terrain Management System with Ford’s “G.O.A.T. Modes” (stands for “Goes Over Any Type of Terrain”), Ford Co-Pilot360 safety systems and more. Choose the Big Bend model and you’ll get some additional content, including two-way manually folding rear seats, privacy glass, push-button start, rubberized cargo floors and some other nice-to-have bits and pieces. The Outer Banks model is meant to be the nicer “luxury” version, with a leather interior, power seats, a digital gauge cluster and bigger 18-inch wheels. In “Jeep-speak,” you’d call this one the Sahara trim.

Then we get to the top off-road model, the Badlands. It swaps out the turbo 1.5-liter engine for a 2.0-liter one that makes 250 hp and 277 pounds-feet of torque. It gets a 1-inch lift kit, a special off-road suspension, off-road tires, a more advanced four-wheel-drive system with a twin-clutch rear-drive differential, seven G.O.A.T. modes instead of five, underbody bash plates, tow hooks, a front trail camera and more. There’s also an even more exclusive First Edition model, but it’s already sold out, so I won’t bother with that one. Instead, let’s focus a lot of our attention on the Badlands model — which is deserving of that attention because it’s extraordinarily impressive.

Out On the Road
The first thing you’ll notice about the Bronco Sport if you drive any version of it is that it feels like a bigger SUV than it is. The hood feels almost horizontal, and it’s big, square and very traditional-feeling, creating a similar sensation to sitting in the bigger Bronco. It’s pleasingly boxy, helping you see the corners of the SUV — useful in off-road situations or parking lot maneuvers. That formidable hood is the only thing that feels big about the Bronco Sport, though, as the rest of its dynamics show it to be a nimble, tight-handling little SUV that’s as good to drive on the street as it is in the dirt.

The turbocharged 1.5-liter engine that comes in the vast majority of Bronco Sports is torquey, peppy and has plenty of grunt for around-town driving. Slip the G.O.A.T. mode selector into Sport and it becomes truly quick, with the eight-speed automatic transmission keeping things on boil by maintaining a lower gear than it would in the normal driving mode. It does tend to run out of steam at higher speeds, however, so passing maneuvers on highways might require a little planning, but it never feels slow or ponderous in its operation; for the vast majority of users, it’s going to be plenty of motor. The optional turbo 2.0-liter engine takes things to the next level: Available only in the top Badlands and sold-out First Edition trim levels, you’ll pay for the privilege of extra power, but it does show noticeably better performance on acceleration. Honestly, though, I’d be perfectly happy with the 1.5-liter engine; the 2.0-liter seems more like a perk than a benefit.

The Bronco Sport handles well, too — despite fairly highly boosted steering feel — and definitely features some different characteristics depending on which trim level you choose. Lesser trim levels with their all-terrain tires feel a bit tighter, while the Badlands and its softer, lifted suspension and dedicated off-road tires feels a bit floatier. The Badlands is also a bit louder since its knobbier tires send more road noise into the cabin; given the Bronco Sport’s off-road intentions, though, this is neither unexpected nor unwelcome. The overall on-road driving experience is impressive, combining carlike handling with easy operation, a tall driving position, excellent outward visibility and the traditional crossover characteristics that have made the body style so popular.

Deep in the Woods
The purpose of a Bronco Sport is not commuting; for that, Ford has the perfectly capable Escape. The Bronco Sport’s on-road civility means you can commute in it just fine, but it has the equipment, technology and engineering to be a highly capable off-road machine. Ford likes to bill the Bronco Sport as having a different mission than the big Bronco. The Sport is for getting you to basecamp with all your stuff so you can do whatever you came to do, whether hiking or kayaking or mountain biking. The big Bronco is meant to go further — to be the very reason you’re out in the wilderness, the activity you went off-road for. If that’s the case, though, Ford has made the Bronco Sport far more capable than it needs to be.

My afternoon with a Bronco Sport at the Holly Oaks Off-Road Vehicle Park in Southeast Michigan saw me take a Badlands over slippery rock faces, through high-speed sand pits, around tight wooded trails and down steep declines, all meant to be challenging for any SUV — and likely impossible for the vast majority of cute-ute crossovers. The Bronco Sport not only handled such obstacles with ease, it did so with a level of comfort that was absent in my previous ride-along in a big Bronco. Given its smaller dimensions that make it easier to shepherd through tight trails, one wonders if the Bronco Sport isn’t the better choice for a “casual” off-road adventurer, leaving the more expensive, heavier big Bronco for those who want the most hardcore experience they could have.

Ford makes it easy to take the Bronco Sport into the muck thanks to the use of its G.O.A.T. modes. The Badlands has seven of them, adding Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl to the standard five of Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand. You can lock the four-wheel drive yourself, but switching into the mode that matches your environment will do that for you as needed, along with making adjustments to things like electronic steering feedback, throttle input, transmission shift points, traction control and more.

This is where the budget Land Rover comparisons come in. The system feels similar to how the latest British-brand luxury SUVs handle a lot of their off-road duties. The Bronco Sport will match a lot of the abilities of a vehicle like a Land Rover Discovery Sport, and it comes with the added perk of a slew of more than 100 factory-approved accessories, ranging from lights to racks to rooftop tents that can be ordered along with the SUV at the point of purchase. Using their Terrain Response system, Land Rovers adjust a lot of the same systems Ford does with its G.O.A.T. modes, allowing for a multiple-personality SUV that’s perfectly comfortable on-road and perfectly capable off-road. Simply drive off the pavement, switch into the mode that best describes what you’re about to drive over, and away you go — no fuss, no muss. It works exceptionally well and will allow a lot of less experienced off-roaders to do things that require a bit of training in, say, a Jeep Wrangler, in which you need to know how to adjust most systems and equipment yourself. To Jeep’s credit, the Cherokee has a similar system that also adjusts various vehicle systems to the conditions; a full-on matchup between the Bronco Sport and Jeep Cherokee is an absolute must, and soon.

Getting There Is Half the Fun (Possibly Three-Quarters of It)
In addition to crafting a massively capable budget Land Rover out of a Ford Escape, the Blue Oval has also added a considerable dash of style and utility to the interior. The Bronco Sport’s interior is completely different from the Escape’s, with a more industrial, rugged look to the shapes and surfaces that’s entirely in keeping with its family lineage to the Bronco line. There’s even an available rubberized floor covering in case you want something that’s easy to wipe out. It’s also notable that Ford has introduced to the Bronco Sport interior color that’s missing from a lot of SUVs these days — shades of blue, bronze, silver and orange that are all a welcome departure from the dull greige in a lot of competitor vehicles.

While the interior is good, it’s also not perfect. As is the case with a lot of Fords, the seats feel smaller than they should be and are shaped in uncomfortable ways. The Badlands model’s optional leather-covered chairs had bottom cushions with an odd dome that made me feel like I was sitting on an exercise ball. The backseat is not terribly generous in the legroom department — likely a function of losing some wheelbase versus the Escape. Headroom isn’t an issue thanks to the Bronco Sport’s safari-style roof and upright, boxy styling. The cargo area looks plentiful, but Ford has not yet published dimensions for the Bronco Sport, so comparisons with other compact SUVs are difficult at this time. Of note here is the standard flip-up glass rear window, which is a feature you don’t often see anymore but which is useful for just popping something into the cargo area without having to open the entire hatch (and maybe having things spill out).

On the technology front, the Bronco Sport has all the modern amenities and safety conveniences you might expect from a new Ford, plus maybe one or two tech bits that seem a little odd. First, Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard, bringing things like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, auto high beams and a backup camera. Upgrade to Co-Pilot360 Plus and you’ll also get adaptive cruise control with lane-centering, evasive steering assist and more.

The multimedia system in the Bronco Sport is curiously not the latest Sync 4 system you can get in the new 2021 Ford F-150, but rather the older Sync 3 system that runs on an 8-inch touchscreen. It’s a little small in terms of display size — most new competitors have larger screens — but it’s as large and up-to-date as the system in the Escape. It also has something that Sync 4 doesn’t have: a “home” button, which we never thought we’d miss until Ford eliminated it in the F-150. The system still works fine, syncing up with a smartphone without issue, and provides Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in case you don’t want to use the native Ford systems.


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