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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A gray 2021 Ford Bronco Sport with luggage on the roof is driving in sand as part of the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport vs 2021 Toyota RAV4 comparison.

Does the All-New Ford Bronco Sport Beat the RAV4?

This year, we’ve seen the release of several high-performance SUVs, and we have even had some newcomers enter the ring. Competition is fierce, and this is undoubtedly the case when putting the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport vs 2021 Toyota RAV4. While the Bronco had previously been a staple of Ford’s lineup long in the past and has recently come back into the mainstream, the Bronco Sport is all-new. With this in mind, the Bronco Sport has plenty to live up to and faces a wide range of competitors. Vehicles such as the RAV4 are worthy adversaries that have dominated the market for years. However, the Bronco Sport has one aspect covered that Toyota’s offering doesn’t, one that could be the defining reason behind a customer’s purchase, and that is its far better off-roading capabilities.

How Does Performance Compare?

When compared against one another, performance ultimately goes to the 2021 Bronco Sport because of its two available powertrains, both of which are turbocharged. For the RAV4, the only gasoline-powered engine that you may choose is a 2.5L four-cylinder that comes paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine will give the RAV4 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Because of this relatively low torque output, you won’t be doing any significant towing as it only has a maximum towing capacity of 1500 lbs.

As previously mentioned, there are two turbocharged engines available for the Bronco Sport. Coming standard with the Bronco Sport is a turbocharged 1.5L that also comes paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Regardless of the relatively small size of this engine, it’s able to come rather close to matching the larger 2.5L found inside of the RAV4. With this 1.5L I-3, your Bronco Sport will produce 181 hp, and while this doesn’t outpace the RAV4’s engine, its 190 lb-ft of torque does.

It’s here where the Bronco Sport’s improvements become most notable as the available turbocharged 2.0L vastly outperforms the 2.5L inside of the RAV4. Like each mentioned engine thus far, it’ll come paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the aforementioned engines, the transmission for this option adds an assortment of amenities, such as paddle shifters for manual gear changes.

This turbocharged engine, in particular, produces 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, which is about 23% more horsepower and a 51% larger torque output than the RAV4’s engine. Because of this stark increase in torque, the Bronco Sport in certain configurations such as Badlands has the ability to tow up to 2,200 lbs when properly equipped, 47% more than the RAV4. Combined with the previously mentioned transmission, the Bronco Sport is an exciting ride, both on and off the road.

A red 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is driving on a gravel trail on a mountain.

The G.O.A.T. Difference

Trims such as the Bronco Sport Badlands are well regarded for their enhanced off-roading capabilities. However, every Bronco Sport comes with a key feature that helps with driving in various weather conditions, and this is called G.O.A.T. modes, or Goes Over Any Terrain. Toyota does include a similar feature with the RAV4 dubbed Multi-Terrain Select. The main difference between the two is that Multi-Terrain Select only allows for alternation between four drive modes, whereas the Bronco Sport allows for switching between seven different modes. It’s worth noting, however, obtaining all seven terrain modes requires opting for the Badlands trim. Otherwise, you’ll have five modes to select from.

The four terrain modes available on the RAV4 include one for mud and sand, another for rock and dirt, a mode for traveling in the snow, and a normal mode. In comparison, with the Bronco Sport Badlands, you’ll find the likes of Normal mode, Eco, Slippery for wet road conditions, Sand, Mud/Ruts, Rock Crawl, and lastly, Sport. Also coming standard on every Bronco Sport are 4×4 capabilities that allow for consistent performance when driving off the beaten path. Opting for the aforementioned Badlands trim will upgrade the 4×4 system in the Bronco Sport to a sophisticated twin-clutch solution, which will help you get through terrains such as mud with ease.

The Bronco Sport Badlands is an extraordinary trim, not only because of these inclusions but also because of several others. Some of these features also improve the off-roading experience significantly, such as a front-facing camera. This makes navigation on an off-road trail far simpler and much safer because you’ll always have an extra layer of visibility between yourself and the trail. The Badlands also has an approach angle of 30.4 degrees and 8.8 inches of ground clearance, which should be plenty for off-roading.

Which Interior Has More Space?

Interestingly, the interiors of both the 2021 Bronco Sport and the RAV4 have just about the same amount of similarities as there are differences. For starters, both vehicles support a maximum passenger capacity of five passengers with no optional third-row. This places the Bronco Sport and the RAV4 at an equal opportunity to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of one another. For example, the interior of the RAV4 lends itself to a larger amount of available cargo space, whereas the Bronco Sport manages to be the more comfortable fit, especially for any taller passengers.

Inside of the RAV4, you’ll have a maximum cargo capacity of 69.8 cu ft, which will shrink to 37.6 cu ft when the backseats are standing upright. Although not by a massive margin, this is slightly larger than the 65.2 cu ft of maximum available cargo space within the Bronco Sport and the 32.5 cu ft of space when the Bronco Sport’s rear seats are in place. The difference between these two is bound to be negligible at best for the average driver. However, you’ll instantly be aware that the interior you’re sitting in feels too cramped.

Sitting inside of the RAV4 will only give you 37.7 inches of headroom in the front-row, while the Bronco Sport gives front-seat passengers 39.1 inches. We see a similar situation in the back row as the RAV4 will give passengers in the back 39.5-inches of headroom instead of the Bronco Sport’s 41.7-inches. Available legroom, on the other hand, sees the Bronco Sport give front-row passengers a better 42.4-inches of legroom, while the RAV4 has 41-inches. Overall, passenger space and comfort are decidedly in favor of the Ford SUV.

A gray 2021 Toyota RAV4 is driving on a dirt trail in the woods.

Which SUV Should You Buy?

Between these two SUVs, there are a host of strengths that each one possesses. However, we feel that any driver who prefers performance should opt for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Additionally, the inclusion of various off-roading amenities such as a standard 4×4 system in the Bronco Sport only gets better once you’ve opted for select trims such as Badlands. Ultimately, the RAV4 does have a few places where it comes out on top, such as having slightly more cargo space. However, when it comes to raw performance and the utmost off-roading capabilities between these two SUVs, then there really isn’t a better choice than the Bronco Sport. To begin the shopping process for your new Bronco Sport, visit your local Ford dealership and take one for a test drive today.

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