2022 Ford Maverick is a big little truck

A few years ago, when the world questioned the announcement that Ford would stop selling cars in the United States (with the exception of the Mustang), Ford executives had to hide a smirk. That’s because they knew the little Maverick pickup about to be announced would soon be ready to take the entry-level spot in the lineup.

The Maverick is about the size of the previous generation Ranger that Ford ditched a decade ago. It has a very affordable starting price. It is available only as a four-door Crew Cab model in three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat. And its arrival makes sense: with the Maverick, but also the new Hyundai Santa Cruz 2022, small trucks are back.

Driving up to the Maverick, the first impression is how low its roofline is. The new truck sits nearly five inches lower than the current Ranger and nearly seven inches below the F-150. If you are around five feet nine or more tall, you will be able to see right over the cab, which is extremely rare for a pickup today.

The Maverick may be less of a mini-F-150 than an Escape in van form, but its capabilities are enough to convince people that it’s not just a costume. Based on the same C2 unibody platform, the chassis is largely shared with the Escape, but has been beefed up to achieve a compelling 1,500-pound payload capacity, greater than that of the four-door Toyota Tacoma.

The pricing is as surprising as the return to the small truck segment. There is no three-cylinder 1.5-liter like in its platform companions Escape and Bronco Sport; instead, the entry-level $ 21,490 Maverick is a front-wheel-drive four-cylinder hybrid. This is Ford’s well-sorted technology that dates back to the 2005 Escape hybrid. The combined power of its four and two 2.5-liter electric motors is 191 horsepower, and its price is $ 7,785 cheaper. than that powertrain in the Escape. The upgrade option is a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder developing 250 horsepower, which is an extra $ 1,085 on any trim level.

Converting a compact SUV into a pickup brings an unusual amalgamation of car and truck characteristics. For example, massive and antisocial levels of skating, even from a rolling start with the front-wheel drive 2.0T. We recommend going for all-wheel drive ($ 2,220) with the more powerful engine. On the road, the Maverick has the resolute strength of a unibody SUV with a firm ride that allows for high payload and improves body control. A blossoming is a playful spin of the throttle to the limit, reminiscent of compact sedans that Ford no longer sells. But stability control can’t be turned off completely, so it’s a short-lived thrill. The steering has truck-like imprecision, and exertion is high, while the braking feel of the oversized brakes, compared to the Escape or Bronco Sport, is solid and inspires confidence. The 2.0T engine is switched off. The wringing out mainly causes the flowing noise of the exhaust system. But it’s fast; the 60 mph sprint should come to about six seconds flat.

The front-wheel drive hybrid has a power level better suited to powering the front wheels only. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder hums more than the 2.0T muffler, but it’s not obnoxious. Overall, the Maverick is surprisingly understated considering its low price tag. The hybrid’s brake pedal is a bit nonlinear, as is the standard mixed brake. And in mixed driving conditions that were light on the highway, but not light on the throttle, we saw an average listed above Ford’s 40 mpg EPA city demand. Impressive.

With the low price comes a simplified range and carefully omitted features. For example, no rear defroster is available. To start with a push button and get rid of the key cylinder – remember? Heated seats and heated steering wheel are part of the $ 3,340 Luxury package which is another Lariat exclusive. There are no interior color or finish options in a trim level, and there is no leather. The 8.0-inch touchscreen isn’t as high-resolution as Ford’s best and rules out features like in-built navigation, although that’s not a real loss with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features.

And yet, with interesting materials and nifty flexibility, the interior isn’t cheap at all and is in fact one of the most inventive we’ve seen from Ford. The lightweight trim in the front of the dashboard trim contains pieces of carbon fiber mixed together to create a quartz countertop-like look, and there are splashes of color on the vents and the console pan. . The top of the dash is made of hard plastic, but here too the graining significantly enhances its appearance. The only typical cheap black grain plastic sits in the center of the coin bin flywheel. The door pockets are also nifty; cutting short the typical grab handle leaves a place to store large water bottles. A bicycle tire can slide through these slots to fit the rear seat area. This rear seat is roomy for adults, but not roomy for a compact SUV – it’s roughly the same size as the Hyundai Santa Cruz.

There are also a ton of personalization opportunities. Ford accessories can plug in somewhere in the back of the center console and in the under-seat storage compartments, but the company will also release calculations for this accessory so owners can 3D print their own designs. The 4.5-foot bed features wood slots to divide the available space horizontally and create two-level storage. The tailgate has a mid-point position that puts it flush with the wheel arches for transporting four-by-eight sheets of plywood. Customers can also tap into an electrical circuit on its own 20 amp fuse, wired to the back of the bed, for any accessories they wish to install.

The tow package ($ 745), which increases the truck’s capacity from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds, is only available with all-wheel drive. It features improved engine cooling, a transmission oil cooler and a shorter final reduction ratio. We towed 3,650 pounds of ATVs with a 2.0T so equipped and hauled two jet skis (2,000 pounds) with a hybrid, and in neither case did the truck feel overloaded.

Will truck buyers, who have had nothing but derision for the clever but warm Honda Ridgeline, agree with a Ford unibody pickup? Based on over 100,000 initial orders, it appears Ford’s decision to pull out of the cars was well founded.

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About Frances R. Smith

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