All those rumors and spy shots, it seems, have been on the money, Ford today confirming it will launch a new, compact pickup that will revive the name “Maverick.”
Set to make its formal debut next week, the new truck will slot into the line-up below the current Ford Ranger and target an emerging segment that could provide an option for young budget-minded buyers. It will take a non-traditional approach to the unveiling fitting for the audience Maverick is targeting.
“The all-new Ford Maverick makes its debut on June 8 with the help of actress Gabrielle Union,” Ford said in a statement released today. “She will show off the all-new truck on her own Instagram and TikTok channels, on Ford’s social channels as well as on Hulu. The Maverick will be Ford’s first vehicle to debut on its new U.S. TikTok channel.”
The move to use Union, who’s starred in a variety of movies and television series, mirrors Hyundai’s marketing efforts on its new Santa Cruz small pickup, aiming to attract younger, urban buyers to the vehicle and brand.
Bringing back a once-iconic badge
Ford first used the name, Maverick, for a compact two-door coupe launched in the 1970 model year, adding a four-door version later. It was one amongst a stable of so-called pony cars that included the smaller — and ill-fated — Pinto. Today, only the familiar Mustang nameplate survives, Maverick being discontinued in the U.S. in 1977, and in other markets two years later.
But rumors have been circulating for more than a year that Ford might bring the badge back and stamp it on the new, compact pickup that company officials had already confirmed in 2019 that they were working on. In July 2020, in fact, an image of a Ford tailgate bearing the Maverick name was leaked out.
Ford is the dominant U.S. player in the pickup market, the full-size F-Series line spending nearly four decades as the best-selling nameplate in the market. The midsize Ranger has gained traction since it was revived for the 2019 model year.
Targeting a new segment and a new buyer
With Maverick, the automaker will target young, entry-level buyers looking for something both versatile and affordable. Some industry analysts see a broad opportunity to grow a segment that has largely been ignored in recent decades. There are new signs of life, however, Hyundai earlier this year unveiling its own entry, the new Santa Cruz.
Unlike traditional, body-on-frame pickups, however, both Santa Cruz and Maverick will be unibody designs. The new Ford offering is believed to be based on the same platform as the Escape SUV.
Several Mavericks have been spied on public roads undergoing testing in recent months. They’ve been seen with different grille layouts, one with hexagonal openings, another with small rectangles. The differences are believed to represent separate versions of the compact pickup – much as Ford uses different grilles and lighting to distinguish various trim levels for the big F-150.
Several versions on tap
It is widely expected that the Maverick will be offered in both all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive. The AWD package may use an independent rear suspension, the FWD alternative getting a less expensive twist beam setup.
The Ford Maverick also is expected to share powertrains with the Escape, offering future buyers options including a base, turbocharged three-cylinder package making 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade would be a turbocharged Ecoboost four-cylinder engine displacing 2.0 liters and making 250 hp and 275 lb-ft.
There have also been some reports suggesting Maverick might get a hybrid option. The challenge will be holding down pricing so as not to push into the same territory as the current Ranger line.
Ford is expected to reveal more details on June 8, but we expect Maverick to go on sale late this year as a 2022 model. It will be produced at the same Hermosillo, Mexico plant now producing the Bronco Sport. That line also is based on the Escape platform, albeit one heavily modified for off-road adventuring.
Considering Ranger currently starts around $25,000, the 2022 Ford Maverick is expected to come in closer to the $20,000 mark in front-wheel-drive form.