The 2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup is everything the automaker’s other trucks are not. It’s small (almost a foot shorter than a Ranger), it’s built on a unibody platform instead of a traditional frame and it’s a hybrid estimated to hit 41 mpg in city driving. It also is priced just under $20,000, making it the least expensive truck built by Ford in a decade.
As active-outdoor lifestyles (or looking the part) continue to drive the public migration from sedans to crossovers and SUVs, a contingent of buyers are discovering that a genuine pickup bed might be more in line with their preferences than a hatchback. Like the recently unveiled 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, the Ford Maverick is aimed directly at this emerging demographic. They’re not heavy haulers, but the bed is convenient for bicycles and wet beach or dirty athletic gear; they don’t tow a full-size travel trailer or boat, but the option to pull personal watercraft or a small trailer is a welcome addition; all-wheel drive is available if they need it, but they know from experience it’s not required.
Ford tried a similar approach with the mid-size Explorer Sport Trac a decade earlier. It had its fans, but it was a compromise built on the existing bones of the Explorer and never really resonated with the emerging active class during its run from 2000 to 2010. The Ranger, Ford’s long-running (1983-2012 and 2019-present) small-to-mid-size pickup, has never hidden its workhorse identity. If the Maverick has a true spiritual progenitor, it’s the short-lived (2003-2006) Subaru Baja, a small pickup for outdoorsy types based on Subaru’s Outback wagon.
How Big, Or Small Rather, Is The Maverick?
The Maverick has the same proportions as Ford’s other trucks at a glance, just scaled down. In familial terms, the 199.7-inch-long Maverick’s steel body is over four feet shorter than an F-250, 32 inches shorter than an F-150 and 11 inches shorter than the current Ranger. At 68.7 inches tall, the Maverick gives up 2.4-inches in height to the Ranger, 6.9-inches to the F-150 and 10.6-inches to the F-250.
Pertinently, the Maverick is exactly 4-inches longer and 2-inches taller than the Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup. For a more familiar point of reference, the Maverick is 10.5 inches shorter than the unibody Honda Ridgeline, which measures 210.2-inches and as of 2021 is all-wheel-drive only. It’s worth noting that the Maverick lacks the under-bed storage space of the Ridgeline and Santa Cruz.
Ford is billing the four-door Maverick as a proper 5-passenger vehicle, and they appear to have carved some significant room from its compact dimensions. The front passengers have 40.3-inches of headroom, 42.8 inches of legroom (to the accelerator pedal) and 55.4 inches of hip room. Those measurements are within 0.4 inches of the larger Ranger in every dimension (39.8, 43.1, 55.8). Rear seating is a similar story: the Maverick posts 39.6- inches of headroom, 35.9-inches of rear legroom (36.9-inch in the 2.0L) and 54.1-inches of hip room, measurements that are all incrementally larger than in the Ranger.
Maverick Pickup Bed Size And DIY Versatility
The bed is 4.5-feet long and 6-feet with the tailgate down, slightly longer than the Santa Cruz’s 4.3-foot bed but foot curter than the Ridgeline’s 5.3-footer. The Santa Cruz’s bed is also not evenly shaped, curving inward at the top to reduce the bed length at that height to 4 feet. Though the Maverick’s bed is less than four feet across the floor between the wheel arches, you can lock the tailgate in the mid-position, and carry the venerable 4×8 sheet goods like plywood and drywall supported on the top of wheelhouses and the tailgate lip. For instance, Ford says up to 18 sheets of ¾-inch plywood can be safely transported in this fashion.
The max payload rating is 1,500 pounds regardless of powertrain, 200 pounds shy of the Santa Cruz’s 1,700-pound rating.
But the Maverick is a lifestyle vehicle, not a heavy hauler. Accordingly, Ford came up with a versatile cargo system it calls FLEXBED after reportedly watching people struggle to load and transport gear. Thanks to series of vertical and horizontal slots molded into the bed, users can create segmented storage, elevated floors, bike and kayak racks and more with 2×4 or 2×6 dimensional lumber. Two tie-downs and four D-rings provide lashing points. Built-in threaded holes in the sides allow more creativity. There is a Ford cargo management system on offer, but Ford encourages creative types to the hardware store and get some lumber or C-Channel and bolt it in as desired. In a stroke of DIY inspiration, a QR Code is present in the bed that displays several ideas for customizing your bed when scanned.
Finally, a standard 12-volt circuit prewired in the bed is designed to be utilized in DIY projects like adding air pumps and lighting without hacking into the factory wiring harness.
Maverick Powertrains And Trims
Three trims will be available at launch: XL, XLT and Lariat. Additionally, a Maverick First Edition package will be available for the 2022 model year. Built off the Lariat trim, the First Edition includes unique exterior graphics, a gloss black roof, mirror caps and wheels (18-inches for the hybrid or unique 17-inchers for the gas model), a soft tonneau cover and body-color door handles. Three exclusive color options for the First Edition include Carbonized Gray, Area 51 (a blue hue seen on the Bronco Sport) and Rapid Red.
Two powertrains are available on the Maverick. The base hybrid unit is comprised of a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder rated at 162 horsepower and 152 pound-feet torque combined with a 94-kW electric motor. Together they produce 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque directed through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) to the front wheels. The CVT is a Ford Truck first, and all-wheel drive is not available with the hybrid. The battery pack resides underneath the passenger side of the vehicle. Preliminary fuel economy estimates indicate 40 mpg in city driving and a range of 500 miles. Five standard drive modes are included: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Tow/Haul.
The electric motor is designed in-house and is assembled at Ford’s Van Dyke transmission plant, where it also makes the motor for the new F-150 Lightning pickup EV. Creating the electric motor inside the company allows the engineers to regularly communicate with the product team, increasing efficiency and keeping costs low, says Ford. On a tech note, the motor uses the superior “hairpin” method for the windings, which Ford says allows them to push more current while keeping noise down. Additionally, the center magnets are molded into the center core—most glue in the magnets—allowing for faster motor speeds, translating to faster vehicle speed. Ford says the Maverick hybrid has passed a rigorous testing regime, including towing a 2,000-pound trailer up a significant grade.
Stepping up to the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder ramps up the horsepower quotient to 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque funneled through a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission. If these numbers sound familiar, it is likely because they are identical to those of the 2.0-liter engine found in the Bronco Sport.
Crucially, opting for the 2.0-liter opens the door to all-wheel drive and the optional 4K tow package, which provides a 4,000-pound tow rating, double the base truck. The all-wheel drive option raises the ground clearance from 8.3-inches to 8.6 inches. There will also be an FX4 package available on XLT and Lariat trims, adding all-terrain tires and specific suspension tuning, additional underbody protection and additional off-road drive modes like Mud/Rut and Sand, as well as the addition of Hill Descent Control.
Fuel economy estimates and pricing for the 2.0-liter upgrade have not been released.
Ford Maverick Design And Assembly
The Maverick will be built at Ford’s Hermosillo Assembly Plant in Sonora, Mexico, where it also assembles the Bronco Sport. Given that, and several other similarities, including the two-liter engine option and the shared 63.4-inch front track and 62.8-inch rear track, it’s clear there’s a fair bit of cross-pollination going on beneath the surface with the Maverick and Bronco Sport.
Aware of emerging tastes and functionality needs, Ford sidestepped fake leather and faux finishes as much as possible inside, instead incorporating unique textures and materials like reground carbon fiber for strength and visual interest. The dash panel has a stone-like finish, like a super-durable synthetic countertop. The random flashes of color throughout the cabin signal storage and functionality options like the wireless charging bin in the front console.
FITS (Ford Integrated Tether System) is a versatile integrated mounting system that allows rear-seat passengers to choose between available gadgets like cupholders, a storage/trash bin, a cord organizer, a double hook for grocery bags and purses and under-seat storage dividers. Ford says more FITS slot creations are in development and plans on open-sourcing the geometry so people can 3D-print DIY solutions to integrate with the FITS system for their specific needs.
Safety and Tech Features
Standard equipment on all Mavericks includes an 8-inch center touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, FordPass Connect with embedded modem and Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices and the ability to find the truck, check the fuel level, lock and unlock the doors and start or turn off the vehicle from your phone. Standard safety tech includes forward automatic emergency braking and collision warnings and automatic high beam headlamps; available safety features include adaptive cruise control with stop & go, blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, lane centering and evasive steering assist.
In an era when tech and safety features take top billing for most new vehicles in the youth segment, Ford shows a commendable understanding of the target demographics and leads with the core functionality of the Maverick overall. Yes, it comes with some friendly standard tech and safety features, but there are signs of tech-gimmick weariness in the entry-level market. 40 MPG, room for five inside and bikes in the back with a starting price under $20,000 speak volumes to a generation emerging from a two-year pandemic hibernation.