With the release of two new Bronco Sport small SUV retro-inspired special editions, Ford continues to draw inspiration from the legendary legacy of the Bronco 4×4.

Both the 2023 Bronco Sport Heritage Edition and the 2023 Bronco Sport Heritage Limited Edition have a classic-themed look package that recalls the design of the first Bronco vehicle from 1966 to honour the brand’s 50th anniversary. All models share a white roof, white BRONCO writing for the grille, white 17-inch aluminium wheels, and a white rear bumper.

Ford’s 181-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-three is used in the Big Bend trim level’s Bronco Sport Heritage Edition, which is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The Ford High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension (HOSS) system package includes five user-selectable “G.O.A.T.” terrain modes for off-road driving, in addition to hydraulic front bump stops and specially tuned springs.

White trim accents, plaid fabric seats with blue and red accent stitching, a microsuede centre console armrest, and Navy Pier Blue highlights on the door panels and dashboard characterise the interior of the Heritage Edition. There are seven colour options to choose from, including a retro shade called Robin’s Egg Blue that was offered on the first-generation Bronco.

The more expensive Heritage Limited Edition is based on the Badlands off-road package found in the standard Bronco Sport trim level. This package adds a larger turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine, two more G.O.A.T. modes, a torque-vectoring rear differential, and a lockable centre clutch pack for the all-wheel-drive system. There are three different paint colours to choose from, including the bright Yellowstone Metallic and the more subdued Robin’s Egg Blue that we have on hand.

Extra-large 29-inch all-terrain tyres, leather upholstery, and white door inserts are just a few of the Heritage Limited Edition’s unique touches. The centre console is adorned with a vintage plaque, and the metal Bronco door badging in the original 1960s font is undeniably eye-catching.

2023 ford bronco sport heritage

The 2.0-liter’s 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque make easy work of the steep gullies, buried boulders, and thick sand that compose the Johnson Valley area of the Mojave Desert, surprising given that it is based on the same C2 unibody platform as the Escape SUV and Maverick truck. Due to the extensive off-road testing done here, Ford buried a geographical coordinate in the trim of the vehicle’s rear hatch as a subtle nod to the region’s significance.

The Bronco Sport’s undercarriage is protected with a skid plate made of aluminium, which is included in the basic Badlands equipment package in order to prevent damage from sharp rocks and other hazards. Following in Melissa’s dusty tracks into the desert, we find that the Sport’s 8.8-inch ground clearance (on 235/65R-17 tyres, the model’s widest possible) is more than enough for a comfortable drive at a brisk speed. She is well-versed in the Bronco Sport’s capabilities, having won the 1500-mile, off-road Rebelle Rally in a stock Bronco Sport Badlands in both 2021 and 2022.

The Bronco Sport’s suspension is the vehicle’s defining feature, and while there are many off-road modes available, the SUV is capable of handling even light trail running in the default setting. When the rear differential is locked together with the all-wheel-drive system, you may confidently smash through deeper sand.

But, the less retro-tastic Badlands model would hold true to all of those statements as well. The Heritage Limited Edition costs $46,250 and comes standard with over $5,000 worth of goodies that are only available as upgrades on the Badlands. Taking that into account, you’ll notice that the vintage appearance adds almost $2,000 to the whole cost. At $34,245, the Heritage Edition is the next trim level down from the Big Bend, but it costs about $1,500 more.

2023 ford bronco sport heritage

What do you think, is it worthwhile? Yes, old Broncos, both stock and modified, are swarming the spectator areas of this year’s King of the Hammers desert road-race championship a few miles east of where we rode this Bronco Sport. The allure of the original Bronco, the new Bronco, and this spinoff, the Bronco Sport, lies in the way they combine ruggedness and good looks in the eyes of off-road fans. There is a greater emphasis on the latter in the Bronco Sport Heritage Editions, but this has no negative effect on the former.