Retro is cool, right? From mid-century modern furniture to vinyl LPs, and Barbie at the movies.
Now Ford is jumping on to the retro bandwagon with a Heritage version of its cute-ute Bronco Sport compact SUV.
This is Ford’s homage to its square-box 1966 Bronco and oozes retro cool with its very-Florida Robin’s Egg Blue paint, Oxford White roof, and white-painted slotted 17-inch wheels.
And how cool is that square-edged front grille, with its bright-white paint, fire-truck-red Bronco lettering, and circular LED lights, just like an original ’66?
You could just picture Happy Days’ Richie Cunningham turning up at Jefferson High behind the wheel of this throwback trucklette.
That Robin’s Egg Blue is one of seven Heritage colors Ford offers, and one of three that gets paired with the Oxford White roof (the others are Yellowstone Metallic and Peak Blue).
In the week I just spent with this powder-blue Heritage Limited 4×4, I couldn’t have gotten more thumbs-ups, more selfie shots, more “I love that truck” reactions than I would driving a lime-green Lamborghini.
Don’t confuse it with Ford’s latest full-sized Bronco. That’s much more the tougher, bolder-crushing, mud-plugging truck. Think of the Sport as a Bronco-lite with more road-friendly driving manners.
While entry Sport models come with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 181 horsepower, the Heritage gets the uprated 2.0-liter turbo-four packing a more robust 250 horseys.
It’s an absolute sweetheart of an engine that’s as frisky as a sugared-up two-year-old, has oodles of mid-range thrust for swift passing and freeway merging, and is whisper-quiet at 75 miles per hour on I-75.
Coupled with a super-responsive eight-speed automatic, it leaps off the line like Seabiscuit in his prime, with just the faintest of sporty growls. Heck, it even has paddles for D-I-Y shifting.
Then you throw in the Heritage’s uniquely-tuned front suspension struts, monotube rear shocks, all-wheel drive, and surprisingly precise steering, and this compact SUV delivers a lovely combination of nimble handling and a smooth ride.
For a soft roader, it can even play well in the dirt. The Heritage models boast a slightly increased ride height and knobbly Falken off-road tires to take you on the road less traveled.
No, it won’t take you through an Amazonian rain forest. But with no fewer than seven drive mode settings, you’d have no problem getting out of that muddy Little League soccer practice parking lot or wading through a Bayshore Boulevard flood.
Climb aboard and the Heritage merges retro with modern. The retro part is that baseball-glove-like perforated brown leather covering the seats, complete with an embossed bucking-Bronco logo.
Bang up to date is the 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, the wireless charging pad, push-button start, and eight-inch center touchscreen.
The cabin itself is a lovely place to be. I love the tall roof, big windows, and slim pillars that make for terrific all-round visibility, while the standard glass moonroof adds plenty of interior light.
Front seats are super comfy, while the rear bench has enough kneeroom for two or three adults not to feel cramped. For trips to IKEA, fold the seat flat and your Ekedalen extendable table will fit just fine.
While an entry-level Bronco Sport stickers from just under $33,000, the price of retro cool with the Heritage model is a little more at $35,295. But step up to the lovely Limited version with the 2.0-liter engine, the all-wheel drive, and leather trim and you’re looking at a fairly lofty $46,250.
Hey, Ken and Barbie. Maybe it’s time to give up that pink Corvette for something a little more practical.