Those who remember the 1970-’77 Ford Maverick will recall it as the so-so compact sedan that succeeded the 1960-’70 Falcon on the same rear-wheel-drive platform. Good name, forgettable car. Now, decades later, that good name is back on what should be a big hit for Ford.
The world’s first pickup with a fuel-efficient standard hybrid powertrain, it also boasts a lot of modern features, good CUV-like dynamics, real-truck toughness, (small-truck) capabilities and surprisingly affordable pricing.
Based on the same compact crossover architecture as the Escape and Bronco Sport, Ford bills its '22 Maverick (pictured, left) as “the truck for people who never knew they wanted a truck.”
Though not yet official, its EPA city rating is projected at 40 mpg (5.9 L/100 km), and its starting price is just $19,995, plus $1,495 destination. The midrange XLT trim starts at $22,280, the top-line Lariat at $25,490.
“The Maverick product proposition is like nothing else out there,” says Ford truck marketing manager Todd Eckert. “It’s a great-looking truck featuring four doors with room for five adults, plenty of towing and hauling for weekend trips or do-it-yourself projects, and it starts under $20,000.”
Its 2.5L Atkinson-cycle 4-cyl. hybrid delivers 191 hp combined and 155 lb.-ft. (210 Nm) of torque to the front wheels through a CVT, and it can tow up to 2,000 lbs. (907 kg) and carry 1,500 lbs. (680 kg) of payload.
Or buyers can choose the available non-hybrid (for $1,085) 250-hp EcoBoost gasoline 2.0L which delivers 277 lb.-ft. (376 Nm) of torque through an 8-speed automatic and standard front-wheel drive or available (for $2,220) all-wheel drive.
Equipped with an optional ($745) tow package, the EcoBoost Maverick’s tow rating doubles to 4,000 lbs. (1,814 kg) A well-equipped ’22 Maverick should sticker for about $38,000.
Ford’s Co-Pilot360 technology includes standard Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Automatic High Beam Headlamps, while available options include Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Blindspot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Centering and Evasive Steering Assist.
The five standard drive modes are Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Tow/Haul.
Inside, the 8-in. (20-cm) center touchscreen offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus standard FordPass Connect (with embedded modem and Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices) that can start the Maverick or shut it down, check its fuel level, lock or unlock its doors and even locate it in a crowded parking lot, all from its owner’s phone.
The simple (yet not cheap-looking) interior (pictured below) is surprisingly roomy in front, a little less so for legroom in back unless front legroom is compromised, and it offers a variety of clever cubbies and storage bins.
The door armrests are split to allow a one-liter (33.8-oz.) water bottle to sit upright in a bin, while the large door pockets have sufficient vertical clearance to store a tablet or notebooks.
A Ford Integrated Tether System provides “multitasking solutions” for rear-seat passengers, and an available accessory package includes cupholders, a storage or trash bin, cord organizer, a double hook for grocery bags and purses, and under-seat storage dividers.
In all, Ford says more than 150 accessories are available. There’s also a spacious storage bin under the rear seats that can accommodate a fully inflated volleyball, laptop bags, rollerblades, tools and other gear.
The (just) 4.5-ft.-long (1,371-mm) Flexbed provides a variety of cargo storage and organization solutions, including segmented storage, elevated floors, bike and kayak racks and more (by sliding 2x4s or 2x6s into slots in the bed sides) plus two tie-downs, four D-rings and built-in threaded holes in the sides, and customers can scan a Flexbed QR code in the bed for ideas.
The tailgate has a halfway-open position and offers a 6-ft. (1.8-m) floor when down. Two available 400W 110V outlets – one in the bed, one in the cabin – can power phones, laptops, small TVs, power tools and battery chargers. And there’s a storage cubby built into the side of the bed on XLT, or two available on Lariat trucks.
The standard hybrid powertrain provides good performance, though its CVT hesitates briefly before kicking in for full-throttle two-lane passes, and the 2.0L EcoBoost engine is stronger in all speed ranges. Curvy road handling is satisfyingly agile, steering crisp and responsive and braking sure and linear. We averaged 23.2 mpg (10.1 L/100 km) through 32 miles (52 km) of fairly aggressive back-road driving in an EcoBoost XLT and an impressive 35.9 mpg (6.5 L/100 km) in a Lariat Hybrid.
We liked the dual knobs (volume and tune/scroll) and handy hard buttons for infotainment and dual climate control, but only two USB ports are standard.
The XLT used a standard ignition key and lacked both embedded navigation and satellite radio, the thinking being that customers will provide their own nav and entertainment through their phones. The Lariat did have pushbutton start.
The Maverick is offered at three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat. An $800 FX4 package available on AWD XLT and Lariat adds more off-road capability with rugged all-terrain tires and suspension tuning, Hill Descent Control, additional underbody protection and Mud/Rut and Sand off-road drive modes.
A first-year-only, Lariat-based First Edition package features unique wheels, colors and graphics.