Words: Sammy Chan
Photography: Sammy Chan
Published: May 25, 2022
SALT SPRING ISLAND, British Columbia - Ever since Ford took us by surprise announcing that it will stop production of all sedans (except Mustang) four years ago, it has been feverishly at work looking at all sorts of replacements. A small pickup truck came up as a top choice. Afterall, with SUVs and CUVs now encompassing all categories and all sizes, why can't pickup trucks? With only the medium-sized Ranger and the full-size F-150 to sell, it then makes perfect sense for Ford to add a small pickup to its portfolio, and to colonize the segment before GM and Toyota joins the fray.
Pickup trucks have always been a stablemate in North America, not just because of culture or image, but rather the way we pay homage to live a casual-free and DIY way of life. Ford once again repeated its old trick by bringing Bronco back to life, this time pulling "Maverick" out of a bag of abandoned car names. Doesn't matter that the 70s Maverick was a sedan and not a pickup truck. Its namepuller must have been either an old Maverick fan or might it be the other Maverick, Dallas Mavericks? Also revived from elimination (nearly, after trailing the Suns 3-2), they went on to win two consecutive games to go into the Western Conference finals. Who said they can't repeat what they did in 2011 by winning the championship. Ford product planners better get ready (a fleet of Mavericks for the homecoming parade, literally).
Not only does Ford buck the car market trend with a pickup, it also revolutionalizes it by repositioning hybrids as a more affordable choice than similar gasoline models. The starting MSRP of a Maverick Hybrid is $25,900, and with no direct competitors in the pickup segment, Maverick aims its arrow at the $25,370 Honda Civic Sedan, $24,890 Toyota Corolla Cross, and pretty much all compact sedans and crossovers.
Ford Maverick comes in Hybrid and EcoBoost versions. Hybrid is only available in XL and XLT trims while EcoBoost adds a more lavishly equipped Lariat model. All Maverick Hybrids are front-wheel drive while EcoBoosts are all all-wheel drive. Pricing for all models are: XL $25,900, XLT $28,500, EcoBoost XL $28,400, XLT $31,000, Lariat $34,450. Need AWD and gas saving at the same time? Sorry to say, you can't have your cake and eat it too.
Other than basic necessities like power windows and air conditioning, remote keyless entry, auto high beams, 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, FordPass Connect with embedded modem and WiFi, rear view camera and tire pressure monitor are also standard. XLT models add an enclosed bed storage, power tailgate lock, SecuriCode keypad, 12V powerpoints, Pre-Collision Assist with AEB, and more. Lariat models benefit from more expensive-looking upgrades inside and out, with body coloured mirrors and door handles, and standard LED headlights and "window in window" rear windows. A rear window is a $220 option on XL and XLT, and is manual not power operated.
If you have to have heated seats, a heated steering wheel and a power-adjustable driver seat like me, then adding the Luxury Package is a must, but it is only available on XLT and Lariat. In XLT, Luxury Package also comes with a 400W/110V outlet, leather steering wheel, full-size spare tire, 8 bed tie-downs and trailer towing hitch. Lariat models add adaptive cruise, blind spot warning system, lane centering, wireless phone charging, SiriusXM and an 8-speaker B&O sound system.
Ford Maverick's unibody chassis is shared with Escape and Bronco Sport. Though born as a lightweight truck, it meets all factory standards of "Built Ford Tough". Visually, the Maverick is significantly larger than both the Escape and Bronco Sport, and actual dimensions endorse this perception. A small pickup it is, a small car certainly not.
Not only is it physically bigger than the Bronco Sport, the Maverick also has a larger and more imposing front end, sporting a much larger grille and headlights. Body contours are in line with other pickups from Ford - nothing to write home about in aesthetics or design language terms. Just like all other pickups these days, the rear door is tastefully imprinted with the truck's name.
The interior design is unpretentious - honest, simple, and practical. Materials used are easy to clean and maintain, with recycled material furnishing the door and dash panels giving it a stone-like finish. As bland as it is, the Maverick has injected some refreshing design elements such as the way the door grabs end to accomodate taller water bottles, the not original but nicely reiterated exposed screws and eyewear holder behind the screen.
Pickup users tend to pay more attention to the cargo bed design than an SUV owner would pay to a trunk. Coined "Flexbed" by Ford, the bed is 4.5 feet long, more than enough to carry a 2 seater sofa (50"). Mind you, the Ranger and F-150 are just half foot and one foot longer, and with the tailgate open, Maverick's bed can be extended to six-feet. Six Tie-Downs are standard and can be optioned to as many as ten. Ford said the whole bed is a DIY fan's paradise, simply scan the QR code on the bed wall and start customizing whichever way you like it. Speaking of DIY, the orange plastic holder that "plugs" the hole next to the screen could be downloaded to your 3D printer. Printer not included.
Combined with a 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 98-watt electric motor, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine delivers a maximum output of 191 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. From start to speeds below 40 km/h and if the battery is sufficiently charged, the car will run in EV mode, until the motor kicks in seamlessly and without fuss. The Maverick also uses the Escape Hybrid's ECVT transmission, which provides simulated shifts to mimic gear changes while in Sport mode.
The Maverick's other engine, the much more powerful 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder, is standard on Lariat, but optional on XL and XLT models. At 5,500 rpm, the engine has a maximum horsepower of 250 hp and a maximum torque of 277 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm. The EcoBoost is equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Just a few minutes into driving and we could tell that its incredibly polished and pleasant, and feels energetic with every move and stab of the throttle.
If performance or towing capability ranks high on your priority list, the EcoBoost with AWD is the way to go. Towing capacity is 2,000 lbs, but EcoBoost owners can add a 4K Tow Package ($800) to increase capacity to 4,000 lbs, enough to tow a camper, yacht or the 2,900-lb Airstream camper shown here. Payload capability is also a big concern for pickup buyers. Here, capability is the same for both Hybrid and EcoBoost, all able to shoulder 1,500 lbs.
Even base Mavericks offer a gamut of different driving modes, which also varies depending on which engine it serves. Hybrid has Eco, Normal, Sport, Slippery and Snow modes, while EcoBoost being AWD replaces Eco and Sport modes with Sand and Mud/Rut. Hill Descent Control is also an included feature (EcoBoost).
At BC's picturesque Salt Spring Island media drive, in addition to Maverick's full line-up, XLT and Lariat EcoBoost with FX4 Off-Road Package ($1,120) were also available for testing. One towing a 2,900-lb camper and one with 480-lb 4x8 plywood payload were also there for a short sprint. For someone who has doesn't tow things on a regular basis, it is both surprising and encouraging to discover just how easy it is to drive and control a wholesome mass of 6,631 lbs (2,900 + 3,731 lb curb weight). Acceleration from the EcoBoost engine was more than adequate, the turning radius is shorter than expected, and we never broke a sweat navigating it all around the island.
When loaded up with a bed full of timber, it was quite another story, with the suspension and brakes taking much of the beating. The Maverick is a lightweight pick up truck after all, and the load changes and weight shifting could easily be felt. Fortunately, the brakes were more than up to the task, andn the Falken tires reassured with confidence despite the added load.
Many automakers have attempted to add pickup variants to their series portfolio, like the Jeep Gladiator and even the Subaru Baja. But Ford is one of the first to morph one out of a compact SUV. It has its perks. With a very affordable entry price, teamed up with a hybrid powertrain and a versatile playful bed, and the all-new Ford Maverick should have no difficulty hacking the traditional family car market.
Model: 2022 Ford Maverick
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,072/1,844/1,745
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder Hybrid/2.0L EcoBoost 4-cylinder
Transmission: ECVT/8-speed automatic
Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut-type
Suspension-Rear: Independent twistbeam(Hybrid)/Multi-link trailing arm(EcoBoost)
Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined): 5.6/7.1/6.3(Hybrid)/10.7/8.1/9.6(EcoBoost) L/100 km
Tires: Continental ProContact TX 225/65R17 (XL/XLT) Falken Wildpeak A/T (Lariat)