Over the last 38 years, I’ve always owned a pickup truck of some kind. Even before that, I drove my dad’s pickup when I needed one. Trucks are simply too useful to be without one. Whether you need to tow your boat (or whatever) or haul a load of stuff, or both at once, a pickup truck is the Swiss army knife of vehicles.
There are certain rules, however. Automakers have been making pickups pretty much the same way since Henry Ford made the first flatbed Model TT in 1917. Pickup trucks have always been made on a ladder frame with the engine in front and a solid axle in back.
Further, trucks have always been made with rear-wheel or later, four-wheel drive. Honda broke the mold with the upscale Ridgeline starting in 2004, but the comparatively high purchase price made the Ridgeline a curiosity rather than a game-changer.
Now Ford has reimagined the compact pickup truck for the modern era, and they made a few key choices that have made the Maverick wildly popular with a generation that has never seen a truly new mini truck.
The Ford Maverick is a compact pickup truck built on the same underlying chassis as the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport small SUVs. Instead of the traditional ladder frame with a separately mounted body and bed, the Maverick is built on a stamped unibody platform, designed primarily as a front-drive vehicle with all-wheel drive capability.
Where a traditional truck uses a solid rear axle suspended below leaf springs, the Maverick offers independent rear suspension under coil springs. Under the hood, buyers can choose from a turbocharged gas engine or a fuel-efficient hybrid.
Those are all important distinctions, but the real winning combination with the Maverick is its convenient compact size and its starting price, which is $20,995 before fees for the 2022 we tested, rising to $22,195 for the 2023 model. A small, affordable truck is just what young urban buyers need. I know because that’s what I drove when I was young and cash strapped.
The first thing to note is that the Maverick looks like a Ford pickup truck. The first-generation Ridgeline did not look like a truck, so it wasn’t widely recognized as a truck. Honda fixed that with the second generation, and Ford learned the lesson.
The Maverick is available only as a crew cab, with a short bed. That’s what sells these days, because that format offers more use cases than a single cab with a longer bed. It’s that Swiss army knife thing again; you can keep stuff locked up warm and dry in the cabin and carry passengers when you need to. The 54-inch bed is long enough to carry a lot of stuff, especially if you use the tailgate to extend the bed to 78 inches.
Ford scored big with the Maverick’s interior by looking backwards. Simplicity is the rule, with just the features you really need. There’s an 8-inch infotainment screen and a basic climate control setup, with a couple important extras like available wireless device charging.
There’s decent room in the rear seat area, especially if you ever rode in the back of an “Extra Cab” mini truck as a youth. Flip up the rear seat cushions and you’ll find convenient and discreet out-of-sight storage compartments.
As mentioned, the Maverick gives you two attractive powertrain choices. The low-cost entry model comes with a 2.5-liter hybrid engine with a continuously variable transmission and front-wheel drive. That package is good for 191 total system horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque, but the real news is 42 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway. For eco- and price-conscious buyers, that’s a big win.
If you want all-wheel drive, you’ll need to get the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine option. This comes with a more traditional 8-speed automatic transmission and your choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. You’ll surely enjoy the 250 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. This driveline returns 22-23 mpg in the city and 29-30 mpg on the highway. That’s still better fuel economy than the midsize Ford Ranger, by the way.
Because the curb weights of both variants are about the same, towing is rated at 2,000 pounds with either driveline, though you can boost that to 4,000 pounds with the EcoBoost engine and an available tow package. The Maverick’s payload is 1,500 pounds no matter how you configure it.
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rated the 2022 Maverick with five stars for overall frontal and side crashes, and four stars for rollover safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Maverick generally good ratings, with the headlights rated as “Acceptable” and a demerit for not having a seat belt reminder.
Ford provides a basic safety suite for every Maverick, but the Co-Pilot 360 package that implements adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and more is an optional extra.
The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system runs Ford’s Sync system and works just fine. It supports smartphone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so your navigation is handled. There’s also a B&O premium sound system available on the top Lariat trim.
If you’ve ever owned a true mini truck from the 1970s or 1980s, you’ll find the Maverick familiar, but greatly improved. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing because it makes you forget that those old trucks didn’t have air conditioning and that the seats were barely a layer of foam over a simple frame. The Maverick drives like a nimble, quick mini truck, but gives you all the comfort of a modern vehicle.
One big factor in the ride and handling quality is the Maverick’s independent rear suspension. If you’re used to bouncing over bumps in a traditional truck, you’ll find the Maverick rides more like the SUV on which it’s based. The Maverick is also much quieter than a “real” truck, and provides adequate power with the hybrid drivetrain, and real fun power in the turbo version.
2022 Ford Maverick hybrid Specifications
|Dimension||L: 199.7 inches/W: 72.6 inches/H: 68.7 inches/Wheelbase: 121.1 inches|
|Powertrain||2.5-liter 4-cylinder and hybrid electric motor; CVT|
|Fuel Economy||42 mpg city/33 mpg highway/37 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $23,690; As tested: $30,095 including $1,495 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
By the time you read this, most of the available stock (if you’re lucky enough to find a Maverick for sale that hasn’t been reserved) will be 2023 models, so we’ll talk about those.
There are three trim levels of Maverick. The base XL trim starts at $23,690 once you add Ford’s rather steep $1,495 destination fee. You can add Co-Pilot 360 for $650, and that’s a good deal. The price is the same whether you buy the XL Hybrid or the EcoBoost with front-wheel drive. Choosing all-wheel drive will cost you an additional $2,220. Once you select the EcoBoost and all-wheel drive, you can also upgrade the towing capacity to 4,000 pounds with the $745 trailering package, which includes a trailer brake controller and receiver, and enhanced cooling. That’s a no-brainer even if you never tow anything.
Moving up, the XLT trim will cost you $26,595 with front-drive, or you can add the AWD for $2,220 again. You’ll also get alloy wheels and access to a bunch of other option packages mostly centered around off-road capability, like the Tremor package for $2,995. That gets you a full off-road suspension, skid plates, differential locks, and so on. There’s also a $1,730 XLT luxury package with heated seats and a bunch of other features.
At the top of the line, the Maverick Lariat trim starts at $30,095 with the hybrid, or $32,315 with the EcoBoost, because at the Lariat level, they also throw in the AWD system. All the XLT packages are available in Lariat trim as well.
If I was buying a Maverick for my own use, nostalgia and my own penny-pinching nature would drive me toward the base trim hybrid as the cheapest possible truck, but I have to admit, I’d like that EcoBoost engine and all-wheel drive, especially in the winter. But even if I got the EcoBoost engine and AWD, I think I’d still buy the base trim for the best value. I would add the tow package and Co-Pilot 360, however, because they’re great values on useful equipment.
The bottom line on the Maverick is that Ford went back to basics of functionality, but in a modern package. It’s no surprise that dealers will laugh at you if you want to walk onto the lot and drive off in a Maverick. Ford will sell as many of these as they can make, because the Maverick hits all the right notes. Hopefully supply catches up with demand soon, but don’t bet on it.
2022 Ford Maverick hybrid — Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Ford Maverick reliable?
According to Consumer Reports, the Ford Maverick should be more reliable than the average new vehicle.
What is the wait time to get a new Maverick?
Recent reported wait times are 8-10 months for an EcoBoost, and up to a year for a Hybrid.
Is the Maverick bigger or smaller than a Nissan Frontier?
Smaller. The Frontier is a midsize, while the Maverick is a compact truck.