Ford had the small truck market all to itself with the original Ford Ranger, until it was retired after the 2011 model year. The Ranger badge reappeared on a mid-size pickup for 2019 , but apparently there is room in the lineup for an even smaller truck.
If the name Maverick sounds familiar, that’s because Ford once applied it to a small car in the late 1960s. Back then, it was the most affordable Ford you could buy. Well, the same goes for the 2022 Maverick, which, on price alone, is sure to get a lot of attention from both traditional and non-traditional pickup buyers. It’s about the cheapest Ford you can buy, next to the EcoSport subcompact crossover.
For non-traditional buyers, in particular, the Maverick’s SuperCrew (Crew Cab) body style with four full doors and seating for five passengers makes it practical and family-friendly. The 4.5-foot-long bed is about 15 centimeters (six inches) longer than the one attached to the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup. It’s also slightly longer than the Honda Ridgeline’s bed floor. Ford says the Maverick can haul 18 4×8 sheets of three-quarter-inch plywood flat on the cargo floor, but with the tailgate down, of course.
The Maverick’s platform comes from the unitized (frameless) Ford Bronco Sport and Escape crossovers. For pickup service, it has been reinforced in key areas to accommodate payloads of up to 1,500 pounds (682 kilograms).
Styling has nothing in common with the Escape, but the Maverick bears some resemblance to the full-size F-150 pickup, particularly its grille and headlights.
The interior exudes a minimalist vibe that fits well with the Maverick’s life purpose, and its base price is below the $30,000 mark in Canada. Knobs and knobs control most functions, including audio and ventilation systems, plus an oversized rotary control for gear selection. Even the gauges and standard 8.0-inch touchscreen are simply functional, along with a rear seat cushion that flips up to reveal storage bins for valuables.
The standard hybrid powertrain is as unique as the Maverick itself. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder is paired with an electric motor to produce a net 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. It comes with a continuously variable transmission.
Optional with all trim levels is a non-hybrid powertrain: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder developing 250 horsepower and 277 lb-ft is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
All-wheel drive is available with the 2.0. The system doesn’t have a two-speed transfer case, which means there’s no low range for more extreme off-road driving.
The hybrid can tow up to 2,000 pounds (909 kilograms), while the 2.0-liter is rated at 4,000 pounds (1,820 kilograms) and comes equipped with a factory tow package. That’s less than the maximum 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) the Santa Cruz and Ridgeline can tow.
Where the hybrid really shines is fuel economy, or lack thereof. The unofficial rating is 5.6 l/100 km in the city, 7.1 on the highway and 6.3 in mixed. The turbo powertrain is rated at 10.7/8.1/9.6.
The base Maverick XL rings in at $28,000 including destination charges. The standard equipment list is pretty slim – think work truck, here – and doesn’t include cruise control.
The mid-range XLT, which will likely be where most buyers go, gets cruise control and upgraded seat coverings, rear seat armrest, heated steering wheel, a power-locking tailgate and 17-inch alloy wheels. Steel wheels are standard.
The top-of-the-line Lariat costs $36,550 and comes with dual-zone climate control, leather seating surfaces (including the power driver’s seat), power sliding rear window and 18-inch wheels.
The FX4 Off-Road Package is available for all AWD Mavericks. With it, you get skid plates, a larger-capacity radiator, and unique aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires. There’s also hill descent control that keeps the Maverick at a slow, steady pace when descending steep grades, without the driver having to use the brakes.
As an alternative to utility vehicles, the Maverick has many virtues, such as the ability to haul heavy/bulky cargo. As such, it could become a hero of urban construction sites or a new tool for delivery companies.
Factor in the hybrid’s modest fuel mileage and attractive price tag and trucker and non-trucker types alike could climb aboard.
What you need to know: 2022 Ford Maverick
Type: Front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive compact pickup truck
Engines (hp): 2.5-liter inline-4 plus electric motor (191); 2.0-liter inline-4, turbocharged (250)
Transmission: Continuously variable (2.5); eight-speed automatic (2.0)
Market position: Ford is back in the compact pickup class after more than a decade. The Hyundai Santa Cruz is the only real contender, but it’s very different and has a much higher base price.
Points: Neatly styled and packaged little truck. • The interior has clear and simple controls. • The base hybrid burns all the fuel, while the optional 4-cylinder turbocharger does the heavy lifting. • The basic version is inexpensive, but lacks the most available active safety technology. • If any pickup truck can attract non-traditional buyers, it’s probably this one.
Driving assistance: Blind spot warning with backup alert in case of cross traffic (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); forward emergency braking (standard); inattentive driver alert (na); lane departure warning (opt.); pedestrian detection (na)
L/100 km (city/highway): 5.6/7.1 (hybrid)
Basic price (destination incl.): $28,000
Hyundai Santa Cruz
- Base price: $40,450
- The sleek little carrier looks good, but the loading area is rather small. AWD is standard.
- Base price: $47,500
- The larger four-door pickup is equipped with a 280 horsepower V6. AWD is standard.
- Base price: $40,300
- The midsize truck is available in extended cab and crew cab models. AWD is standard.
– written by Malcom Gunn, managing partner at Wheelbase Media