The Right Truck at the Right Time
We were glad to see Ford bring the Ranger pickup back, but in order to stay up with the established crop of midsize pickups, it had to be much bigger and more capable than the compact Ranger we knew and loved. Fortunately, Ford still saw an opening for a smaller pickup, one much more closer in size to that original ranger. But this time they’re calling it…Maverick!
If you’ve heard or read anything about the 2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup, you know it’s based on Ford’s Escape crossover platform, which means no full-frame underneath, much like Honda’s Ridgeline. This may instantly rustle the feathers of the hardcore truck crowd, but we decided to keep an open mind as we headed to the national press launch in Tennessee. And, in order to start checking things off the truck must-do list, we ventured off-road to some steep rutty hills, as well as a few high speed bumpy sections of the trail.
The Maverick, with optional all-wheel-drive, handled both with ease. An available FX4 package adds mono-tube dampers, underbody protection, all-terrain tires, and additional Mud, Rut and Sand drive modes to go along with Hill Descent Control.
And while the typical truck is anything but fuel stingy, the Maverick is something of a game changer-- as the first pickup truck with full-hybrid power standard. That means entry level XL Trim! It’s 2.5-liter I4-based, with 191-horsepower and 42-mpgs in the city. It is front–wheel-drive only, however. If you want all-wheel-drive, you’ll have to step up to the optional 2.0-liter I4 EcoBoost engine-- at least for now. Output is 250–horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque with a perfectly matched 8-speed automatic transmission.
All Mavericks are roomy 4-door crew cabs, and all have 8-inch touchscreen infotainment with plenty of big, manual controls. Front seats are quite comfortable, and there’s plenty of room in the utilitarian cabin for folks both large and small. ActiveX seating materials are unique and appear highly durable. The rear seating area is cozier, but still quite comfy with decent leg room, and the seat bottom flips up to reveal sizable storage areas.
While hardly F-Series menacing, the Maverick does have real truck style; especially the base XL, with its standard 17–inch steel wheels. Smooth body panels, with a lack of any sizable gaps between them, gives it an almost injection-molded look.
As to overall size outside, the Maverick is 3.2 inches shorter than the longest classic Ranger, while 11.1 inches shorter, and 4.6 inches lower than the current Ranger, but that real back seat means a cargo bed that is only 4½-feet long. Still, lots of integrated features make it as useful as possible.
Max towing of 4,000-lbs. is by way of the EcoBoost with an optional 4K towing package. That’s a lot of weight to pull with a 4-banger, and it definitely works hard at highway speeds. We had quite a bit of towing time with the standard hybrid, also. It felt plenty-powerful enough to tow its max of 2,000–lbs, and its e-cvt means no harsh gear changes, plus some aggressive regen braking in tow mode kept things well controlled on long downhill grades.
It was long amounts of flat pavement that we searched out next, back home at Mason Dixon Dragway.
Even with EcoBoost power, our all–wheel-drive Maverick Lariat was a little sluggish off the line, but wakens up nicely once the tach gets north of 4,200-rpm and scoots to 60 in 6.2–seconds. It’s extremely quiet in the cabin and transmission shifts are very smooth, making for a pleasant 14.8-second trip through the ¼-mile, ending at 93 miles-per-hour. The Escape is quite a capable handler for its segment, so no surprise the Maverick equated itself reasonably well in our handling course, feeling light on its feet and more like a sporty SUV than a truck.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 42-City, 33-Highway, and 37–Combined for the Hybrid; 23-City, 30-Highway, and 26–Combined for the EcoBoost; our 26.1 miles-per-gallon average of Regular was right on the money.
The major reason Maverick exists is to give buyers a more affordable option for their light duty truck needs, and Ford has delivered. undercutting even the EcoSport crossover as their new entry-level model. A base XL hybrid starts at just $21,490; XLT at $23,775, and Lariat at $26,985. $1,085 more for the 2.0-liter EcoBoost; $3,305 if you combine it with all-wheel-drive.
We’ve been saying for years that we really need some smaller, more affordable pickup trucks, perfect for homeowners to get weekend projects and adventures done while being fun, frugal, and easy to park for the rest of the week. The 2022 Ford Maverick is, without a doubt, the right truck at the right time-- which is exactly what you’d expect from the brand that’s been the pickup truck leader for more than 40–years.
Engine: 2.0L I4 EcoBoost
Torque: 277 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.8 seconds at 93 mph
EPA: 23 City / 30 Highway / 26 Combined