One reason could be the difference in weather conditions. At the time of the Escape's quick run, the ambient temp was 76 degrees. The Maverick enjoyed testing temps 10 degrees cooler with more favorable atmospheric conditions, so its engine was likely producing more power. Additionally, because the Maverick is set up for truck duty, it gets a higher final drive ratio (3.63:1) versus the Escape's (3.47:1), which means more torque at the wheels and better low-end acceleration.
But wait, there's more! If you have the Maverick's 4,000-pound tow package, as our test car did, you get an even higher final drive ratio of 3.81:1. This gearing difference alone means our Maverick test car produced about 9.8% more torque at the wheels than our Escape test car did.
So the Maverick and Santa Cruz are pretty close in terms of acceleration, but how about braking and handling? Well, in our panic-stop test from 60 mph, they are dead even down to the foot, both getting it done in a respectable 119 feet. Each truck wears its own flavor of Michelin-brand all-season tires, but the Santa Cruz's are slightly wider 245-mm wide tires to the Mav's 225-mm rubber. The extra tire width likely played a factor in skidpad performance — the Maverick wasn't able to match the Santa Cruz's average of 0.85 g, only mustering a mediocre 0.80 g average on its best lap.
While skidpad numbers don't always paint the full picture, the Mav's relatively mediocre road-holding performance pretty much translates to its handling experience as a whole. If Ford's intention was to make this handle and feel like a smaller truck, it's succeeded. The Maverick's size still lends some natural nimbleness, which makes it better to drive than a midsize Ford Ranger, but it feels much less composed and its body less rigid than the Santa Cruz, which doesn't handle like a truck in the least.