There’s no doubt that cars have become quite expensive, and many buyers are looking to find creative ways to mitigate spending so much for their next purchase. Automotive manufacturers are wising up and realizing that the affordable vehicle in a usable and practical sense is making a comeback, and Ford has answered consumers with the least expensive hybrid around that happens to be a pickup truck – a unique small truck called the new Ford Maverick.
The new Ford Maverick is an all-new model that is built off the platform of the current Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Escape and it’s not to be confused with the 1970s Ford Maverick coupe of the past. As a compact-sized truck, a unique segment that’s paving a new path with vehicles like the new Hyundai Santa Cruz, the Ford Maverick takes on an approach to not only having a low starting price of $19,995 before any fees or options, but that price gets you into a hybrid vehicle. Yes, the new Ford Maverick starts off as a hybrid that combines a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine working in harmony with its AC motor.
In the hybrid setup, the 4-cylinder engine is good for 162 horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque while the electric motor turns over 126 horsepower and up to 173 lb-ft of torque. When both the electric motor and gasoline engine are working their hardest you get a combined output of 191 horsepower. The torque figure isn’t stated for a combined output but having 155 lb-ft from the engine and as much as 173 lb-ft from an electric motor helps to get the Maverick moving without feeling slow to hit 60 mph in about 7.8 seconds.
The new Ford Maverick comes in three trim levels (XL, XLT, Lariat) with each having the availability to upgrade to a 2.0-liter EcoBoost (turbocharged) 4-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission instead of the standard hybrid powertrain that gets a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Opting for the optional turbocharged engine gives the Maverick a higher towing rating of 4,000 pounds when it’s equipped with the $745 Tow package option, which requires the all-wheel-drive model. Otherwise, the 2.5-liter hybrid or 2.0-liter turbo Maverick in the front-wheel-drive setup is left to tow 2,000. The hybrid models are only available with front-wheel-drive.
With Ford utilizing a much-proven powertrain in the hybrid models, the Maverick seems well sorted for performance and utilization of the small 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. In fact, the Ford Maverick Hybrid musters out exceptional fuel economy numbers that I found to be mostly consistent. The EPA-estimated rating for the hybrid Maverick comes in at 42 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 37 mpg combined. To my surprise, I averaged about 39.7 mpg during my full week with the Maverick with mixed highway and heavy-traffic city driving. On the highway, I was able to best the EPA estimate where I got 35.2 mpg. There’s something truly magical about a “truck” getting these fuel mileage numbers, even if it is a “small” truck. The Maverick FWD with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost gets 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway (22 mpg city/29 mpg highway for the AWD). The overall range for the Maverick Hybrid is just over 570 miles thanks to the 13.8 gallon fuel tank, which is slightly smaller than the 2.0-liter EcoBoost Maverick’s 16.5 gallon tank.
The CVT does well to adjust to the proper gearing ratio on the fly without much-unwanted sluggishness out of the hole. The CVT also does well to limit any overrun when you let off of the throttle after a heavy application of the gas or waste its time emulating a traditional transmission. In all, I can say the CVT is pretty good for helping to manage the hybrid transitions, which are seamless to the point that you hardly ever know when the engine has fired up or you are running on electric power only. Here, Ford could have done a little more to give the driver additional hybrid information for the battery state and when the engine has turned over. There is one indicator that shows you if you are running on the gas engine or battery power alone, but it takes up the small LCD display in the center of the simplistic gauge cluster where you cannot display “other” information at the same time.
The ride quality is where the Maverick seemed to falter with somewhat of a firm ride quality. The 17-inch darkened wheels with all-season tires may help the ride a bit but you tend to know what type of pavement you’re always riding on. Overall, the Maverick is easy to drive, and its small size makes it enjoyable to maneuver in tight spaces.
The exterior look of the Maverick captures many Ford features filtered down from vehicles like the latest Ranger and F-150 but in a smaller form but has a unique character. It’s not a bad-looking small truck.
The 4.5-foot truck bed with its factory optional $495 spray-in liner has slots for lumber so you can tier up levels in addition to slots above the wheel wells for 4×8 plywood sheets. There’s a 20-amp circuit in the rear of the bed that can be tapped for accessories. For all new Maverick models, in either powertrain configuration, the payload max is 1,500 pounds.
For feature content in the Maverick, there’s just the right selections in the middle-trim XLT Hybrid to keep you satisfied. There’s standard auto on/off auto high-beam LED headlights across the board, rear view camera, and pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking. There’s also the addition of other desirable active safety features through the optional add-on Ford co-pilot360 features such as blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping aid. The infotainment unit, standard for all Mavericks, is an 8-inch touchscreen running Sync 3 and integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The climate control is automatic but single zone and lacks rear and side mirror defrosters unless you opt for the Lariat trim.
The interior space is generous up front but out back the seats have about the same room as the Hyundai Santa Cruz, not exactly spacious but usable on short trips. There’s only seat heating in the Lariat trim where you are left with basic cloth seats on my test vehicle’s XLT Hybrid trim but they are nicely accented with different colors and orange stitching. I would say the interior is done nicely, especially for the price point of such a versatile “hybrid” small truck.
There’s an abundance of hard plastics but clever use of them throughout with nicely contrasting colors and molded design elements throughout. There’s even the use of accented orange colors to highlight the vents, lower dashboard storage area, and the door pull handles. The graining of the plastic trim does well to keep the interior from looking overly cheap, in addition to the light-colored trim having carbon fiber scraps blended into the material to make it look more like a modern upscale kitchen countertop.
As a unibody small pickup truck, the Ford Maverick is an intriguing thing that has basically helped change the automotive market as we know it. The new Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz are making a huge splash with their small size and proof is in the fact that the Maverick is already sold out for most of 2022. The choice to move from cars has paid off well for Ford and I don’t think many will miss the multitude of cars when you have vehicles like the new Maverick. With the price of my 2022 Ford Maverick XLT Hybrid arriving at $26,775, there’s a lot of value here using a truck bed and hybrid powertrain combination that cannot be found anywhere else. Ford has knocked this one out of the park and has changed up the game in more ways than one.
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