2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands reportedly rides on steelies

Jonathon Ramsey

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A couple of weeks ago, spy shooters sent us a whole roll of shots featuring the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. The obvious gotcha was seeing three grille designs on the camouflaged prototypes, as that gave proof to an April rumor about different front fascias for at least three of the five available trims. Ford Authority tapped its contacts for more info, finding out that one of the testers was showing a bit more production skin than expected. The trims on offer at launch will be a base model, Badlands, Big Bend, Outer Banks, and First Edition. We don't know where the Badlands stands in the hierarchy, but FA's sources say standard fit on the Badlands will be the steel wheels and Falken Wildpeak A/T tires seen on one of the prototypes.

The base Chevrolet Trailblazer L comes on steelies wearing pure street tires, partly masking its shame at that fact by mounting a quartet of five-spoke wheel covers. We'll have to see how the Bronco Sport Badlands compares to the base Jeep Renegade Sport, the only Renegade in the lineup that starts with 16-inch steelies before the optional fancier aluminum rims, and wears street-looking Continental CrossContact LX Sport rubber. Falken makes a number of Wilpeak variants, one of them the soft-roader-specific A/T Trail that's clearly more aggressive than the Renegade's hoops, said to be "engineered to match the dynamic characteristics of modern crossovers" and provide "rugged off-road capability without compromise on the open road." One key detail is that the U.S. Tire Manufacturer's Association (USTMA) bestowed the three-peak mountain snowflake on the Falken, representing a severe snow service rating. The Continental hasn't earned the designation.

Ford has already built more than 100 units of the smaller Bronco at its Hermosillo, Mexico, plant for quality control validation, emissions testing, and crash testing. Production models are thought to start rolling down the lines in early September, after the plant concludes Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ assembly and retools. A debut shouldn't take too long after the new F-150 debuts later this month and the full-sized 2021 Bronco shows in July.

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