2021 Ford Bronco Sport vs 2021 Toyota RAV4

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  • 2021 Ford Bronco Sport

    A white 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks is angled left.

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    2021 Toyota RAV4

    A grey 2021 Toyota RAV4 LE is angled right.

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    181 - 250Horsepower (hp)203
    190 - 277Torque (lb-ft)184
    YesStandard 4x4No

    The arrival of the 2021 Ford Bronco is one of the most anticipated automotive events in recent years, and just as anticipated is the arrival of the more compact Bronco Sport. While the full-size Bronco has garnered praise and applauds from both critics and fans, the Bronco Sport should definitely not be overlooked, nor should it be overshadowed. For those who lead active lifestyles, the Ford Bronco Sport is a worthy choice that stacks up well against mainstream SUVs. So let's take some time to compare the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport vs 2021 Toyota RAV4, the most mainstream SUV on the market.

    Just like the full-size Bronco, the Bronco Sport offers a boxy design, off-road chops, and a spacious interior. As you might remember, Ford scrapped the Bronco line not all that long ago in favor of road-focused SUVs like the Explorer and Expedition. But fans of the iconic SUV begged Ford to bring it back. In the end, public pressure prevailed, and a new and greatly improved Bronco line was born that included a smaller and more nimble version. In comparison, the RAV4 has been a staple of the compact SUV market since the late 1990s and continues to be the most popular SUV in America. However, the modern RAV4 retains little of the off-road capabilities that it originally had.

  • Performance

    A pale green 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is shown from the side next to a river after winning the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport vs 2021 Toyota RAV4 comparison.The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is equipped with a standard turbocharged 1.5-liter engine that offers up 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. Not bad, but there will be those who desire a little more power. For those adventurous souls, Ford also offers a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Both engine choices are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth shifts and good fuel economy. With the Ford Bronco Sport, you also enjoy standard 4x4 regardless of the choice of engine.

    Off-Road and On-Road Performance

    The 2.0-liter engine brings with it some other improvements, including upgraded cooling components and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. For those who want to squeeze even more joy out of driving the Bronco Sport, the paddle shifters will give you incredible control over the vehicle. The top of the line Badlands trim even comes with a sophisticated twin-clutch 4x4 system that can transfer power laterally between the rear wheels for maximum torque.

    It is a nice surprise that the Bronco Sport does so well off the beaten path, just as surprising, maybe a little more so, is the towing capacity, which maxes out at 2,200 pounds. Being an adventurous person interested in a crossover SUV to match your personality, the Bronco Sport is perfectly capable of towing the dirt bikes and four-wheelers you spend your weekend enjoying. You will even find that the Bronco Sport enjoys decent acceleration times. This small SUV won't win a race against speed demons like the Mustang (not many vehicles will), but it does hold its own on the road. More specifically, the 1.5-liter engine will go from 0 to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, while the 2.0-liter engine will accelerate to the same speed in a snappy 6.5 seconds.

    Where's the Excitement?

    The 2021 Toyota RAV4 has a single engine option - a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Further, four-wheel drive is not standard, which means forking over extra cash if you want to be able to handle bad weather and back roads. Even the grandly named Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims of the RAV4 lack anything close to the Bronco Sport Badland's twin-clutch 4x4 setup.

    The RAV4 also suffers from less ground clearance and inferior approach and departure angle to the Bronco Sport. So if you do take it off-road, you will have to pay more attention to keep from being hung up on obstacles - and let's not even try to compare the water fording capabilities of the two SUVs. Even on the road, the RAV4 lags behind with an 0 to 60 time of 8.2 seconds and a towing capacity of just 1,5000 pounds. While the RAV4 may be the safe choice in the compact SUV market, it is far from an exciting one.

  • Features

    A close up shows a woman using the keyless entry pad on a black 2021 Ford Bronco Sport.Inside the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, you will find plenty of room and several enticing features. It might be small, but Ford somehow managed to carve out plenty of interior space for up to five passengers with ample head and legroom. As far as cargo space is concerned, the Bronco Sport will easily transport a couple of mountain bikes or all of your camping gear. There are also plenty of storage bins located throughout the cabin, even under the back seats.

    After sliding behind the steering wheel, you will discover the many comfort features standard in the Bronco Sport, including keyless entry, cruise control, power mirrors, and audio controls on the steering wheel. The higher trim levels offer navigation control, heated front seats, remote engine start, and keyless start.

    The cargo area of the Bronco Sport is well-designed, and certain trim levels offer a 110-volt household outlet in addition to the standard 12-volt outlet in the back. There is no carpet in the cargo area; the back of the seats and the floor are covered with rubberized mats that can be easily removed and hosed down. When you reach your camping destination, you can slide out the innovative work table located in the cargo area; it is part of the five-way configurable Cargo Management System. As you can see, the Ford Bronco Sport is set up to aid you on your adventures.

    Safety and Technology

    All Bronco Sport models feature an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system supported by the Sync 3 software and supporting touch-sensitive controls as well as voice commands. As a bonus, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features. For interested parties, you can upgrade to satellite radio or choose a premium audio system.

    The Ford Bronco Sport also comes with a nice collection of standard safety features. All trims include blind-spot warning, automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward-collision warning. If it's the little things in life that you appreciate, imagine the ability to back out of a crowded parking spot in the lot of the supermarket without having to have your kids in the back check to see if all is clear.

    What Does the RAV4 Offer?

    As you might expect, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 comes with a nice set of features as well, but a few of the more important ones are optional. For example, cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring, standard with the Ford Bronco Sport, are options you have to pay for. The RAV4 infotainment system features a standard 7-inch touchscreen slightly smaller than the Bronco Sport, although an 8-inch screen is optional. Finally, the Toyota lacks most of the Ford's most innovative features, like seat-back MOLLE loops for securing gear.

  • Exterior

    A close up shows the front grille from a low angle on a silver 2021 Ford Bronco Sport.The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport certainly looks as though it belongs on a mountain trail kicking up dirt and rocks; it resembles the full-size Bronco and sports a rugged-looking exterior. And while it lacks the macho look of its big brother, one might conclude the Bronco Sport is a handsome model. But don't let the size fool you; it has nearly the same rock-crawling abilities as its full-size version.

    Beyond what is found under the hood, the higher trim levels, especially the Badlands, feature advanced four-wheel-drive systems. Ford added two more off-road drive modes, Rock Crawl and Mud/Ruts, in addition to upgraded shocks and sway bars, larger tires, and even an extra inch of ground clearance.

    The RAV4

    There is nothing wrong with the way the RAV4 looks; in fact, Toyota has done a great job making the current model look a bit less boring than before. However, it just doesn't look like it should be anywhere but on a paved road. And honestly, it is quite difficult to compete in looks with something as unique as the Ford Bronco. When you spot a RAV4 on the road, it's no big deal, but people will sit up and pay attention when they see a Bronco Sport - it just has that much character.

    The higher trim levels of the RAV4, most notably the TRD Off-Road, are advertised as holding their own in off-road conditions, but they lack some important features that boost the Broncos off-road capabilities. If you are interested in a crossover and you spend your weekends engaging in outdoor adventures, there is no doubt you should go with the Bronco Sport.

    Two Broncos

    Some people might be leaning towards the full-size Bronco and not giving the Bronco Sport a chance, but that would be a mistake. The Bronco Sport offers nearly as much capability as the bigger version in a more nimble and affordable package. Don't let the crossover name fool you; it's not your typical small SUV, and the Bronco Sport can tackle some serious trails. Don't forget that the Bronco Sport is just as capable on paved roads, the engine supplies plenty of power, the transmission is seamless, and the steering is light and responsive. Inside and out, the 2021 Ford Bronco delivers on all levels.

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