2022 Ford Maverick First Drive Review | Trucking smarter, not costlier

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - We have been looking forward to driving the 2022 Ford Maverick for a long time. When the compact pickup was first introduced, we at Autoblog explained how we all thought we would configure ours if we bought one. I thought I would choose a base hybrid and add the Ford Co-Pilot360 driver assistance package (and a console safe). That was before I could see the truck in person, let alone drive it. Even so, my preferred configuration came in luckily as low as $ 22,895. Now that I've finally seen the Maverick in person and spent many miles on and off the road in multiple versions, I was curious to see if my initial thoughts would apply.
We've seen lots of photos of the Maverick and even seen prototypes testing it in Metro Detroit, but it wasn't until we stood next to one that we really realized how small this truck is. At just 68.7 "tall - 4.6" lower than the Ranger and 6.9 "less than the F-150, we could see right over the roof. After all, it's based on Ford's modular C2 platform shared with the Escape and Bronco Sport. But for such a small pickup it has a big personality.
The standard drivetrain on the Maverick is a hybrid system with a 2.5 liter engine and an electric motor with a total of 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid is only available with front-wheel drive, but it's the efficiency darling with a target fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon in city and 33 mpg highway. The hybrid is rated for a 1,500 pound payload and 2,000 pound pull.
When you step into the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, you get a total of 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. It shares the hybrid's 1,500-pound payload but can pull up to 4,000 pounds with the available tow package ($ 745). It dispenses with a continuously variable transmission in favor of an eight-speed automatic. If you opt for the EcoBoost, you can also opt for all-wheel drive, which also swaps the independent twist beam rear suspension for a multi-link setup.
Regardless of the drivetrain, the Maverick is available in one of three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat. Base XL starts at $ 21,490 (including $ 1,495 in target fees) for the Hybrid. The EcoBoost adds $ 1,085 on all trim levels, while the all-wheel drive adds an additional $ 3,305. For those who want to venture further off the beaten track, the all-wheel drive Maverick XLT and Lariat fairings offer the FX4 package ($ 800) with all-terrain tires, custom-tuned suspension, additional underbody protection, mud / Rut and sand driving modes as well as hill descent control. A fully loaded Lariat with EcoBoost, 4WD, FX4 Package, 4K Towing Package, Ford Co-Pilot360, and Lariat Luxury Package is $ 35,715.
The inside of the Maverick is an interesting place. Cost-saving measures require the use of a lot of hard plastics, but we see and feel interesting shapes and textures. The plastic over the top of the dashboard has a grain that is reminiscent of canvas. We see interesting colors from the inclusion of ground carbon fiber by-products in other hard plastics. The door panels are shaped to accommodate a variety of water bottles of various shapes and sizes (and I'm happy to report that a 32-ounce Nalgene fits snugly in the tailgate). The door armrest is cut out, leaving a cantilevered gripping point with exposed fasteners for a sturdy, functional look. There are storage compartments under the center console, next to the standard 8-inch touchscreen, and on top of the dashboard behind the screen. The stern offers more hidden storage space in the cavernous bins under the bench in the second row.
The Maverick's humble bed is only 4.5 feet tall, but it's hellishly clever and jam-packed with usefulness. It's still big enough to hold a pallet of mulch with a standard 1,500 pound payload. There are slots that you can fit pieces of wood into to use as partitions. The multi-position tailgate can be attached to separate pins to hold it in a center position so that the top of the tailgate stays level with the wheel arches and can support 4x8 sheets of plywood in a flat, level position. Up to 10 bed lashing straps and a cargo management system enable you to secure your cargo. A pair of tailgate lashing straps also serve as a bottle opener. There are two pre-wired 12 volt sockets for wiring your own accessories, and an available 120 volt socket allows tools or equipment to be plugged in. Compartments on the side of the bed provide additional storage space, and a shelf in these compartments can be removed to accommodate about a two-liter bottle. So, yeah, it's not the biggest bed, but it's one of the smartest.
Ford has given owners plenty of leeway to come up with their own do-it-yourself solutions, whether it's building a raised floor or bike rack in the bed, wiring lights or other electronics, or even 3D printing brackets or partitions fit in the dovetail slots on the Ford Integrated Tether System (FITS) behind the center console or in the storage space under the seat. You'll notice QR codes printed on certain shelves in the car and bed. Scanning these will take you to ideas, parts lists, and instructions for some of these DIY projects. Of course, Ford is happy to sell you a $ 50 bike rack or accessory for these FITS slots, but it does acknowledge that its trucking customers have historically taken these types of projects into their own hands. Forum residents, you know what to do.
As the size of the Maverick suggests, it's an easy vehicle to drive whether you're navigating downtown traffic and parking lots, driving scenic freeways, or rural gravel roads. I drove the hybrid first and drove out of town and up Natchez Trace Parkway. The hybrid's instantaneous torque makes it eager to get started, and its 191 horsepower is enough to carry the speed uphill. After about an hour's drive from town to the hills outside Nashville, he returned about 39 miles per gallon with ease, mostly in the truck's normal drive mode. Later, with half a ton of mulch in bed and in tow / haul mode, the hybrid Maverick still drove just as easily, if not as efficiently. The only problem you had to find with the hybrid was the brake feel - a bit sensitive at first, but a little sticky as you step deeper on the pedal. It was easy to get used to and forget about it, however.
Driving the EcoBoost with all-wheel drive provided a more familiar, if slightly louder, driving experience for most drivers. Overtaking maneuvers are definitely faster and more sure-footed in curves and on loose surfaces. Also, if necessary, it can be upgraded to pull a maximum of 4,000 pounds. Its eight-speed automatic transmission will be more palatable to certain buyers, though the hybrid's CVT performed admirably. In any case, there is no way to switch yourself.
We got to spend a little time in the FX4 package on some muddy, rocky farm trails. The FX4's monotube suspension dissipates heat better for more consistent viscosity and a ride that can withstand more activity. The underbody protection did its job and distracted some of those larger stones from the mechanics under the vehicle. The FX4's mud / rut and sand modes add confidence, while hill descent control makes descending those steep inclines much less strenuous. It seemed fine for most types of driving that one might need to get to a campsite, across a farm, or to a hunting curtain. We suspect that even the base front-wheel drive Maverick could go a long way if it was fitted with the right tires. And at the price, it could potentially be a decent alternative to a side-by-side device for these types of work tasks.
So, having seen the Maverick first hand, it lives up to and exceeds my expectations. Would I still choose a relatively stripped-down hybrid? Probably. But when a fully loaded Mav still rings well below $ 40,000, it's hard to imagine a configuration wouldn't be a cute buy. I am ready to bet that the car buyers will agree. The big question now is, can Ford build these things fast enough?
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