The return of small pickup trucks is finally happening. The Ford Maverick enters alongside the Hyundai Santa Cruz to kick off the re-emerging compact car-based truck genre. Where the Santa Cruz aims towards fun and style, the Maverick steers towards being a truck.
The 2022 Ford Maverick comes by default as a hybrid model for those interested in fuel efficiency. It delivers on that, but at the price of capability. Many of the things in the Ford Maverick will be familiar to Ford fans, though, as the truck shares a platform with the Ford Escape crossover and the little Ford Bronco Sport utility.
At a glance
- Low price and lots of nostalgia
- High fuel efficiency in hybrid model
- Bumpy ride and low-rent interior
- Not as capable as its primary competitor
- Already sold out for this model year
The new Maverick has several things going for it. It’s fairly low priced, it’s the only fully hybrid pickup in the midsized or compact classes, and its name draws on a lot of nostalgia both inside and outside of the automotive field. It’s fitting that it’s based on the Escapegiven that the Chinese and European version of the Escape was called “Maverick” in those markets in the early 2000s.
Australians, of course, will remember the 1980s Ford Maverick as a rebadged Nissan Patrol, while Americans remember the two-door compact Maverick car of the 1970s. Outside of automotive, of course, there’s James Garner’s “Maverick” character from the TV series made in the 1950s, and of course Tom Cruise’s callsign in the Top Gun films.
Downsides to the 2022 Maverick, however, are also clear. It’s not as capable as its competitor the Hyundai Santa Cruzit has a loud and bumpy ride quality, and its interior often feels lowball. The driver’s seat isn’t very adjustable, materials quality is a mix of good and iffy, and noise levels are high. The infotainment, however, is well done with fast responses and ease of use. Seating in the front is comfortable for the most part, though limited in adjustment, and seating in the rear is OK for short hauls and smaller passengers. There are plenty of places to put things, a few conveniences like charging ports and the like, and plenty of cup holders.
The standard Ford Maverick is the hybrid model with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that pairs with an electric motor to produce 191 horsepower (142.5 kW) through a continuously variable transmission. It’s rated at 42 mpg (5.6 l/100km) in the city and 33 mpg (7.1 l/100km) on the highway – which is good – but we weren’t able to match that highway number in our tests, averaging 31.5 instead. We have no reliable way to test city fuel economy.
Upgrading goes to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that outputs 250 horsepower (184 kW) to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 23 mpg (10.2 l/100km) in the city and 29 mpg (8.1 l/100km) on the highway. We have not tested the turbocharged model for comparison.
All Maverick models have a cargo bed that measures about 52 inches (132 cm) in usable length (length from cab end to inside of tailgate when closed) and a 1,500-lb (680-kg) payload capacity. Towing starts at 2,000 lbs (907 kg) for the hybrid model and ends at 4,000 lbs (1,814 kg) with the turbocharged model. For comparison, the Hyundai Santa Cruz’s towing is rated at 3,000 to 5,000 pounds.
The Maverick has both a front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive option. It won’t do much off-road, we found, outside of what most compact crossovers with about 8 inches of ground clearance can do. This isn’t an off-road beast, and nothing done to it will change that fundamental fact. It is, however, good enough on dirt roads and light off-road terrain to be useful. Just don’t expect it to be a popular sight in Moab or Baja.
What’s first and foremost in the Maverick’s overall design and feel, however, is its desire to be perceived as a truck. It feels, operates, and gives off a persona of “truck” in every way it can … despite the clearly car-adopted interior and framework it comes from. The modern but quirky interior design, bumpy ride feel, heavier than expected turning quality, and very pickup-truck body design all go towards that goal. There’s no mistaking the Maverick for anything else.
The 2022 Ford Maverick’s no-frills starting price of about US$22,000 also makes sure it’s seen as a utility option. Its popularity is unquestioned, of course, with all 2022 models now sold out and customers awaiting the (likely largely unchanged) 2023 model production to begin.
And for those Europeans hoping that this smaller pickup will enter their markets alongside the Ranger, expect disappointment. Ford has made it clear that the Maverick will not be exported to Europe. The Maverick is currently or will soon be offered in South American, Australian and Asian markets.
Product Page: 2022 Ford Maverick