- All-new compact pickup truck from Ford
- Small, city-friendly dimensions and a lower price than the midsize Ranger
- Built on the same platform as the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport
- Launches the first Maverick pickup truck generation
Ford has resurrected a moniker from its largely forgotten 1970s compact car for its newest pickup truck: the 2022 Maverick. Based on the Ford Escape small SUV (which additionally supplies the architecture for the Bronco Sport), the Maverick is a small pickup truck that slots below the Ranger and the F-150 in Ford's lineup.
Its unibody construction differs from the Ranger's and F-150's classic body-on-frame construction, but the Ford Maverick pickup still delivers some impressive tow ratings. It also has a more comfortable ride than its larger siblings. This makes the Maverick a solid choice for buyers who want the versatility of a pickup but don't need an old-school truck's absurdly high capabilities (and potentially high pricing). We expect the Maverick to go on sale in the fall of 2021.
So, check this out: The Ford Maverick can be a hybrid. It comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor to produce a combined 191 horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque. This combo sends its power to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
This hybrid powertrain delivers pleasing muscle for hustling around town, but we noticed some refinement issues during our initial drive. The handoff from electric to gas-engine power isn't always smooth, and the CVT can feel lurchy and overworked. Also, the brake pedal lacks feel and gets grabby at low speeds, so it can be hard to stop smoothly and accurately. Of course, the upside is exemplary fuel economy — so the choice is yours.
If you're looking for more power and a more traditional driving experience, there's an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 250 hp and 277 lb-ft. The 2.0-liter engine uses an eight-speed automatic transmission and can be paired with front- or all-wheel drive.
This engine has smoother manners. You can certainly feel the extra power, and while the gear shifts aren't the smoothest or quickest around, the transmission is easier to live with. Most importantly, the brake pedal has a much more progressive response and feel down to a stop. The Maverick's steering is also nicely weighted and progressive — avoiding the unsettling dead spots that currently plague the Ranger and Bronco Sport. All in all, the Maverick offers two distinct versions that have different types of appeal.
Ford unabashedly calls the Maverick a truck, and from the driver's seat it plays the part. The Maverick feels more like a truck than a compact SUV. On the road, even smooth pavement elicits small rumbles and bumps that make their way into the cabin. It's not enough to be noisy or harsh exactly, but it's just enough to give the impression that you're driving something of considerable heft.
Otherwise the Maverick feels composed on the road. It offers good stability in high-speed turns and doesn't lean too much from side to side. There is noticeable outside noise once you're fully up to speed, but not an egregious amount by any means. You have solid outward visibility due to a large windscreen and windows, with side mirrors that make it easy to locate your angles. The hood is wide and broad, but it's low enough to provide clear sight lines ahead. In many ways the Maverick feels like a truck shrunk down to a more usable crossover size.
The interior is pretty cool. Ford constructed the interior with seemingly inexpensive plastic and other materials without making the entire vibe feel cheap. There are robust, tough-looking surfaces that feel like they'll hold up to abuse over time and interesting textures, colors and design elements that jazz up the cabin. Then, there's hard, hollow plastic where it should be — holding water bottles in place, helping to keep the Maverick's price in a respectable range.
There's only one Maverick body style — a crew cab — and it's pretty spacious. Up front, there's plenty of room for small items in the center console and plenty of room for two average-size adults. At least two average-size adults will fit in the back seat. Most drivers and passengers will need to duck to get inside the Maverick, though, because of the low roof height.
All Maverick trim levels come standard with a number of tech features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, an 8-inch center screen, two USB ports (one USB-A and one USB-C), 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability and a six-speaker stereo. That's an impressive suite of tech when you consider the Maverick's low starting price. The list of standard driver aids is shorter, but you do get forward collision mitigation (warns you of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios) regardless of trim level.
There's also an available 8-inch touchscreen that provides Ford's Sync 3 system — which we've got lots of experience with. Ford's Sync system isn't our favorite when it comes to the layout of the controls or the screen resolution, but it does provide excellent voice controls for simple tasks like changing the radio station. An integrated navigation system isn't available at all on the Maverick, but we see that as a sign of the times. As more shoppers rely on smartphones for navigation, many less expensive vehicles will eliminate the option altogether.
Optional driver aids for the Maverick are extensive and they include:
Ford has done some really interesting things to accommodate buyers here. For starters, there's a 1,500-pound payload across the lineup regardless of engine. That's respectable even by midsize-pickup-truck standards, and the Maverick is comfortable carrying as much of that payload in its bed as you like. (By contrast, the Hyundai Santa Cruz has a higher payload capacity but can only carry 660 pounds in its bed.)
We hauled around 1,050 pounds of cement mix strapped inside the Maverick's bed and the truck — which had the turbocharged engine — felt well prepared for the task. It comes with a Tow/Haul driving mode that optimizes engine performance and stiffens up the steering for added confidence. The transmission will also keep a lower gear ratio longer and therefore a higher rpm on downhill grades to relieve stress on the brakes. This makes the Maverick feel like it is working harder, but it also enables smooth, stress-free driving even while moving uphill or coming to stops quickly.
Tow ratings are impressive too, at least when you consider the Maverick's small size. Maximum towing capacity is up to 2,000 pounds with the hybrid powertrain and as much as 4,000 pounds with the turbo 2.0-liter engine and optional towing package. In a Maverick with the turbo 2.0-liter engine, we towed a trailer totaling 3,650 pounds and again found the truck up to the task. It's capable of quickly reaching highway speeds and maintaining that pace comfortably.
We did not experience any noticeable wobbling or shakiness, which can be unsettling when towing with trucks loaded so near their maximum capacity. No such issues with the Maverick. The towing package includes extras such as an oil cooler, an upgraded radiator, a trailer brake controller and a seven-pin prewired trailer connection. That's excellent for its admittedly small class. And if you have a need to pull more than 4,000 pounds, you should probably be considering a midsize truck anyway.
Then there's the bed-organizational system (which Ford calls Flexbed) that allows for multiple levels of storage. You can combine the wheelwells in the bed with a multi-height tailgate to create storage shelves for long, thin items, or you can organize storage in many configurations using pieces of lumber. The Maverick also has D-rings and movable in-bed rails to help you strap stuff down, plus a small cubby for tools.
Inside, the Maverick has lots of neat storage options — a number of in-door cup-and-bottle holders for passengers, a large glovebox, a decent-size center console and a big underseat storage compartment in the back seat. The hybrid battery takes about half of the storage space under the rear seats, but otherwise there's plenty of room for storage. One other thing to note: The rear seat can only fold down as a whole unit since there's no 60-40 split capability.
If you want some sort of strange customized storage compartment that Ford doesn't offer, you can do that too. FITS is a new system (short for Ford Integrated Tether System) developed for the Maverick with slots located in the cabin that will accommodate dealer-offered storage solutions such as extra cupholders or a trash bin. Ford is also planning on releasing the physical dimensions of the slots publicly so that owners can design and 3D-print their own custom storage solutions.
We don't have official EPA estimates for the Maverick with the hybrid engine yet. Ford's initial press release touts 40 mpg in the city with the base hybrid powertrain. We also noticed in the fine print of an early Maverick brochure that Ford is aiming for 37 mpg combined with the base powertrain (41 city/33 highway), which is a seriously high set of ratings for anything with a cargo bed. If the powertrains under the hood of the Ford Escape and the Bronco Sport are any indication, that'll probably be the high point, however. The turbocharged engine gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg with front-wheel drive or 25 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The 2022 Ford Maverick is available in three main trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat. The XL doesn't have much equipment, but it's eligible for most of the upper trim levels' options. For instance, the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and the 4K towing package (trailer brake controller, trailer hitch receiver with seven-pin wiring harness, transmission oil cooler, higher-capacity radiator) are available in any trim level.
This base trim includes features such as:
Options for the Maverick include the previously mentioned 4K tow package, an FX4 Off-Road package (all-terrain tires, exposed front tow hooks, hill descent control, skid plates), and Luxury packages for the XLT and Lariat trims that include a spray-in bedliner, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging and an upgraded eight-speaker stereo.
The Ford Maverick may be small, but it's no city runabout. From the way it drives to its few-frills interior, the Maverick feels like a truck first and foremost. This is a compact pickup for towing and hauling with confidence — just at a smaller size and lower price point than other trucks on the market. We can't wait to see whether its real-world hybrid fuel efficiency elevates the Maverick into a higher standing still, so check back once we're able to conduct a full evaluation.