Ford reinvents the truly compact pickup with the Maverick, designed to meet the needs of everyone from the base buyer to the top-of-the-line Lariat owner. To accomplish this feat across a $20,000-pricing spread, designers incorporate common materials that catch the eye and smart features that win our accolades.
The startup sequence alone is special, with the bright LCD instrument cluster greeting the driver with an image of the Maverick with headlights blazing, spinning to a three-quarter view. Punch the ignition button and the projection rotates to show the back of the bed with “Built Ford Tough” appearing on the screen. Nice.
Despite the Maverick’s diminutive dimensions, the cabin seems spacious with clever designs for tucking away everything from cell phones to large water bottles, the latter made possible by keeping the door armrests short to allow for tall containers. Storage under the rear seats is large enough for laptop bags, heavy boots or even fully inflated volleyballs.
Our $37,000 tester (pictured, below) included all the high-end features. But it retained the rugged and simple interior materials common across Mavericks, such as the stone-texture plastic dashboard trim that is both rugged and economical, allowing Ford to keep Maverick’s starting price at just $20,000.
“There’s plastic everywhere, but it doesn’t look like plastic everywhere,” remarks judge Jim Irwin.
Judge Christie Schweinsberg notes the use of color and texture, including technical grain on plastics and a fabric-feel paint, to create a more upscale look and feel. Copper highlights throughout the cabin, from door armrests to vent surrounds, complement the Desert Brown seat and center console trim, with all elements tightly upholstered.
We noticed the truck cabin heats up quickly, controlled by large, rubberized temperature knobs for driver and passenger, in keeping with the truck’s simple and functional theme.
Ford’s SYNC connectivity system responds quickly and correctly to voice commands, while the vehicle’s capable driver-assistance functions impress. We put a lot of miles on the Maverick, enjoying the ease of dependable adaptive cruise control and lane keeping along the way.
What’s a truck without a useful bed? The Maverick’s short four-and-a-half-foot (1.38 m) bed belies its Flexbed functionality. It includes a multi-position tailgate to accommodate longer loads, power outlets and a dozen anchor points, some of which double as bottle openers.
We appreciate that Ford designers specifically targeted DIY solutions for building bike racks and other carrying options.
Notes judge Drew Winter: “The first thing that impressed me was the QR codes in various spots in the cabin and the box that would take you to places where you could buy and install accessories yourself without going to the dealer.”
Having Ford put a customer’s needs and priorities ahead of its accessories-business profits will resonate with what will likely be an entry-level buyer for Maverick.
With the Maverick, Ford puts the fun in functional – and wins a 2022 Wards 10 Best Interiors and UX trophy in the process.