Ford has a thing for bringing back once popular nameplates – as the reborn Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup clearly demonstrate. Now, it seems, the automaker is going back down to the basement to dust off another musty old nameplate: the Maverick.
The Detroit automaker was slow to market with the revival of the Ranger a couple years back but, as sales surged without tanking demand for the full-size – and higher profit – F-150 – Ford planners figured that the brand could use yet another, even smaller pickup.
The project got the green light in mid-2018, and things have been moving along quickly, as these spy shots, used courtesy of website Motor1.com, clearly demonstrate.
While the automaker has been largely mum about the compact pickup program, all sources appear to agree that it will come to market late next year as a 2022 model to be dubbed the Ford Maverick.
The Maverick name has been around for a long time at Ford and seen numerous different applications. American motorists are most likely to be familiar with the compact 2- and 4-door compact models that were sold here from 1969 to 1977, continuing on in some Latin American markets for several more years. The name, of course, was meant to tie in with Ford’s most venerable product line, the Mustang — as was the subcompact Pinto.
Globally, the nameplate has found a variety of other applications. It was used for a rebadged version of the Nissan Patrol SUV Ford sold in Australia from 1988 to 1994, for an early European version of the Ford Escape, and for a rebadged version of the Nissan Terrano II SUV Ford sold in Europe from 1993 to 1999.
Now the badge will make its way back to its original U.S. market but bolt onto the back of the new Ford pickup.
According to the Motor 1 report – which briefly posted, then removed, pictures of the Maverick pickup in bare metal – the truck looks a lot like a downsized Ranger, though it features wheel well creases more closely resembling the F-150.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the tiny cargo bed which could prove to have severe limitations for anyone thinking of using it for commercial purposes. That seems to suggest the 2022 Ford Maverick would be aimed at retail buyers, perhaps aiming to recreate the phenomenon that made small trucks wildly popular with young Baby Boomers back in the 1970s.
That’s similar to what Hyundai has in mind with the Santa Cruz pickup it confirmed last month finally will go into production in 2021, about the same time that the new Maverick appears due.
As with the Santa Cruz, Ford won’t rely on a classic body-on-frame platform for the new Maverick. It will share its platform with the new Bronco Sport model that began rolling into U.S. showrooms last month. That would strongly suggest that the new truck will be assembled alongside the SUV at Ford’s big assembly plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.
As for powertrains, the Ford Maverick would be highly likely to share the SUV’s current powertrain options: a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder.
Whether Ford can stick to the schedule and launch the new Maverick on time for the 2022 model year remains uncertain in this era of pandemic manufacturing constraints. Though Bronco Sport hewed pretty much perfectly to schedule, the bigger Bronco 2- and 4-door models have been delayed from spring to summer 2021, Ford has confirmed, due to problems getting the removable tops sourced from supplier Webasto.
How big a market might there be for a pint-sized pickup? One of the reasons such products were so popular a half-century ago was their rock-bottom price. These days, it could be difficult to position the Maverick in the same niche – though producing the pickup in Mexico will clearly shave costs. The hardware on the spy shots suggest that Maverick could have off-road capabilities similar to those of the Bronco Sport, enhancing its appeal.
Ford’s willingness to revive old nameplates has had some real successes, the Ranger and Bronco two of the most obvious. But there have been failures, as well. The attempt to revive the Thunderbird early in the new millennium was a major flop, however, and Ford didn’t fare much better when it tried to bring back the Taurus badge a few years ago. We should get a sense of how well the reborn Maverick will do next year.