Ford Maverick — A small pickup that works

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(April 10, 2022) As pickup trucks grow bigger, it seems more people are looking for a smaller truck that costs less, takes up less garage space, and is generally more fuel efficient. The problem until recently is the new class of mid-sized trucks — Chevy Colorado, Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger — are about as large as full-sized trucks of the 1990s. Where have all the mini-trucks of previous decades gone?

Galloping to the rescue are Ford and Hyundai with new smaller trucks rugged enough to do the hauling and towing of Mr. and Mrs. Suburbanite. Hyundai has jumped into the smaller pickup business with its Tucson-based Santa Cruz, a 195-inch-long pickup with a 118.3-inch wheelbase. But the current star of the smaller-truck show is the Ford Maverick, based on the compact Bronco Sport and Escape platform.

The Maverick has been an instant success, so sought-after that new orders for the 2022 truck were suspended a few months ago because sales had reached Ford's manufacturing capacity. Ford said it will reopen the ordering books sometime this summer for the 2023 version. This 200-inch long truck with a 121-inch wheelbase is 44 inches shorter than the F-150 crew cab and 11 inches shorter than the mid-sized Ranger.

In other words, the Maverick offers all the truck amenities albeit on a reduced scale, which makes it a perfect fit in the suburbs for weekend chores such as hauling flowers and mulch back from Home Depot or towing a couple of jet-skis to the beach. At the same time its car-like demeanor works for a single-car family who needs passenger-space for four adults and safe and dry luggage or grocery hauling under an optional $1,160 tonneau cover.

Parking lot maneuverability even in the modern mid-sized truck can be an issue. Not so with the Maverick. It's not much different than parking your standard-sized crossover such as the Escape or Equinox.

Its unibody construction differs from the Ranger's and F-150's classic body-on-frame construction, but the Maverick still delivers an impressive maximum tow rating of 4,000 pounds and payload capacity of 1,500 pounds.

The Maverick’s styling mimics the rest of the Ford truck lineup. The black mesh grille is a scaled-down take on the current F-Series front end. This Ford has an upright, boxy appearance, and its unibody construction means there’s no gap between the cab and the bed. While the ride height looks lower than on some body-on-frame trucks, there’s still up to 8.6 inches of ground clearance.

With the four-door configuration in a smaller size rear-seat legroom as been reduced and the bed is a rather short 4.5 feet. That being said, a normal-sized adult can get comfortable in back albeit with cooperation from his or her front-seat counterpart. And the back seat can be folded up to accommodate a bicycle or other assorted playthings inside the cabin.

One of the best features of the Maverick is its choice of drivetrains that give the buyer the option of stellar fuel economy or above average performance. On the economy side, there's nothing in the pickup community outside of EVs that rivals the Ford. The base models are equipped with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4 cylinder making 162 horsepower combined with two AC motors and a 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack good for a total output of 191 horsepower, mated to a continuously variable transmission.

This combination is EPA-rated at 42 mpg city, 33 highway and 37 combined. This outstanding mileage does not translate to "slow." The hybrid has been clocked from 0-to-60 in 7.7 seconds with a quarter mile time of 15.9 seconds at 90 mph. And the hybrid has a decent tow rating of 2,000 pounds.

Starting price of the hybrid XL trim is $21,490. Move to the fairly well equipped XLT for $23,855 — about half the cost of the average current cost of a new vehicle — or the top trim Lariat at $27,355, and you have most of the desired things of modern driving life.

For those who desire more power or who need up to 4,000 pounds towing, there's an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic and can complete a 0-to-60 run in about 6.5 seconds. The engine option costs around $1,085. And gas mileage numbers are rather good — 23 city, 30 highway and 26 combined for front drive, and 22/29/25 for AWD on regular gas.

The Maverick interior is an exercise in simplicity, and for us that's refreshing. There aren't a lot of frills or buttons, but finding the controls you need is very easy. The driving position is relatively upright, but the driver's seat and steering wheel don't offer much adjustability. Visibility is excellent in all directions looking through big windows in the boxy cabin. The seats are firmly padded, but supportive, and they hold up over long trips.

One of the interior highlights is the large amount of storage incorporated into the cabin. The doors can accommodate huge water bottles, the rear under-seat storage is large, and there are numerous small-item storage areas.

While there isn't much tech in the base version — standard eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and forward collision mitigation — we would strongly advise considering the Luxury Package which brings adaptive cruise control, upgraded touchscreen, upgraded audio system, a wireless charging pad, and lane keep assist.

Our test truck was a top trim Lariat with AWD and with the larger 2.0-liter turbocharged engine together with such options as a spay-in bedliner, rear parking sensors, trailer hitch receiver, tonneau cover, power tilt and sliding moonroof, and Ford Co-Pilot 360 safety.

Ford did not provide cost of our truck, but we estimate it at around $32,000.

2022 Ford Maverick


Base price, $21,490; as driven, $32,000 est.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 250 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 277 foot-pounds @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 121.1 inches
Length: 199.7 inches
Curb weight: 3,731 pounds
Turning circle: 40 feet
Towing capacity: 4,000 pounds (2.0 liter), 2,000 pounds (hybrid)
Payload capacity: 1,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 13.8 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 2L AWD - 22 city, 29 highway, 25 combined
0-60: 6.4 seconds
Also consider: Hyundai Santa Cruz

The Good
• Low starting price
• Hybrid engine very fuel efficient
• Quick acceleration from turbocharged engine

The Bad
• Small pickup bed

The Ugly
• Price can grow to $35,000 with options