Finally, finally, finally, the nation’s leading truck maker has returned to the compact pickup market as Ford introduces the Maverick pickup truck.
Oldtimers will remember the original Ford Maverick as a cheap compact car that didn’t stand out, but this Maverick is going to be great in the market, just like Ford’s previous Ranger. The old Ranger, not the new midsize pickup of the same name, used to clutter up every high school parking lot in rural and urban America.
Know why? It was affordable and useful, and damn it, it was a TRUCK. And that’s what young male shoppers yearn for as they imagine themselves becoming men, starting a professional life and well, just expressing their macho as they crank out their country rock tunes.
Maverick’s appearance is less macho than any bulky mid-size and full-size mic that looks ready to defeat a demon in a Marvel action movie. Maverick is handsome and understated, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s also very affordable in all three of its trim levels, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
The base front-drive XL starts at $21,490 including delivery. The mid-tier XLT lists at $23,855 and the Lariat model tested starts at $26,985. That’s cheap in today’s truck world. Add $3,305 to any model if you prefer four-wheel drive, which is what most people do these days. However, you’ll also need to upgrade to Ford’s 2.0-liter I4 turbo engine ($1,085) in order to add 4WD.
Still, even this well-equipped Alto Blue Metallic (dark metallic blue that costs an extra $390) checked in at just $29,340. That’s after adding a sunroof ($795), Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 safety gear ($540), spray-on bedliner (a must at $495) and floor mats ($135). All models are double cabins.
What may surprise as much as the price is that each of these versions comes standard with a hybrid powertrain. That’s right, Ford’s 2.5-liter I4 is paired with a hybrid system to make this compact pickup a gas gulp around town. The EPA rates it at 42 mpg highway and 33 mpg city. I got 31.8 in a mix of cold, icy and snowy weather riding.
Power is smooth and fairly quiet, but modest unless you mash the throttle. Part of that can be attributed to its continuously variable transmission. If you need more power, this optional I4 turbo, mated to an eight-speed automatic, delivers 250 horsepower compared to the hybrid system’s sparse 191 and 155 lb-ft. of torque. Again, the hybrid is fine for normal driving conditions, the turbo is only necessary if you plan to tow more.
That’s because the hybrid is designed to tow just 2,000 pounds. well-equipped ($745 towing package), the turbo-powered Maverick will tow 4,000 pounds. Compare that to Hyundai’s new Santa Cruz, my Zoomie Vehicle of the Year, which can tow up to 5,000 lbs. Santa Cruz is Maverick’s main competitor, being the only other compact pickup to date, although it is sleeker and leans toward the crossover end of the market for ride and space.
Although all-wheel drive is extra, there are five drive modes set via a button on the console. These include Eco, Normal, Sport, Slippery and Tow/Haul. Sport increases acceleration.
Handling is certainly good with Maverick, which rides on the same chassis as the equally nimble Ford Escape and Bronco Sport. Steering effort is smooth and cornering fairly precise, making it easy on the road and in parking lots.
Driving is something else. Although Maverick is a unibody construction, and not a body-on-frame like most other trucks, the suspension is quite firm here. This leads to more twists and turns on our winter-ravaged Midwestern roads. Maverick is enjoyable on the highway, but on crumbling roads passengers will be shaken, not just jittery.
Braking is good as Maverick has four-wheel disc brakes.
For the record, Maverick’s bed is 4.5 feet deep, and the test unit had a spray-on bed liner. Lift height is only 30 inches and the tailgate folds down quickly, no easy drop or multi-function version here as on the fancier pickups. But it’s the right size for hauling wood, bushes and yard waste. Even a few bikes will fit in the back.
The interior is also the right size for four, or even five people, if at least one of them is a child. The rear seats are roomy and there’s plenty of storage space under the rear seat whose lower cushion folds down.
The interior of the test truck was simple but attractive with brown and dark blue leatherette seats. This blue matches the exterior of the truck. I also like the copper trim on the dash, air vents, and door armrests, which are abridged and fairly easy to use to close a door. The console is wisely a matte blue and brown so no reflections there on sunny days.
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The controls and displays are good, the main gauges are easy to see and read, and the 8-inch infotainment screen looks even smaller, but was easy to read.
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The rear seats are roomy and there’s plenty of storage space under the rear seat whose lower cushion folds down.
The controls and displays are fine, the main gauges easy to see and read, and the eight-inch infotainment screen looks even smaller, but was easy to read. The Lariat also has dual climate controls and push-button start, but no navigation system. Note that in an effort to keep costs down, the base level includes key start (remember that?) and cloth seats.
The seats themselves are quite comfortable here, but the front edge seems to have a little too much foam, which puts extra pressure on the legs, just behind the knees, of shorter drivers. Fortunately, the driver’s seat is electric, while the passenger’s is not. Yet the front edge still couldn’t be lowered enough for this short-driver’s long-haul comfort.
The seats aren’t heated either, nor is the steering wheel, even at this Lariat level. No wireless phone charger is standard here either.
Good news though, the entry height is like a sedan or small crossover, so no running boards are needed.
On the safety front, the Maverick includes a pre-collision assist system, backup camera, remote keyless entry and with the $540 Co-Pilot 360 adds blind spot and traffic alerts. lane-keep alert and assist, driver alert and full-size spare tire.
For off-road heroes, there’s also an FX4 package available for $800. This adds 17 inch off-road tires, upgraded cooling system and high capacity radiator, hill descent control, 6.5 inch dash, hitch, special aluminum wheels, skid plates and exposed front tow hooks. Note that you have to upgrade to the turbo engine before adding FX4, adding about another grand.
The base XL is of course a low-content base truck to keep the price just above $20,000, but the XLT adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, cruise control, a locking tailgate, and side mirrors. electrical. The Lariat tested includes the features of the XLT and adds the power driver’s seat, push-button start and 18-inch wheels.
As a final plus, the hybrid-powered Maverick has an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on this system, while the more powerful 2.0-liter turbo has a five-year or 60,000-mile warranty.
If you want a pickup truck, but don’t need a monster truck or can’t afford one, Maverick is finally a new choice.
Preview: 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD
Shots: Good size pickup with great handling and super MPG thanks to the hybrid system. Comfortable interior, low running board, lined bed, easy dash function, 5 driving modes, cool copper interior trim, dual climate controls, 4/5 seats, power driver’s seat and sunroof.
Miss: Just decent power, the ride is bouncy at times, a little too firm, the front edge of the seats are too high for drivers’ short legs, no heated seats or steering wheel, no wireless phone charger and no 4 driving wheels.
Made in: Hermosillo, Mexico
Motor: 2.5-litre I4 hybrid, 191 hp/155 torque
Transmission: Automatic CVT
Weight: 3,674 pounds.
Wheelbase: 121.1 inches
Length: 199.7 in.
Payload: 1,500 lbs.
Tow: 2,000 lbs.
MPG: 31.8 (tested)
Base price: $26,985 (delivery included)
To invoice: $26,475
Copilot 360, $540
Alto Blue paint, $390
Floor liner without groundsheet, $135
Electric sunroof, $795
Spray-on bed liner, $495
Test vehicle: $29,340
Sources: Ford, Kelly Blue Book