As a toddler, I attempted to run over a neighbor in a late 1980s Dodge Omni. How this happened and what motivated me to fail at vehicular manslaughter isn't important, but as my family tells it, the incident is what prompted my dad to buy his first pickup truck. I was too short to reach the door handles on the Dodge Ram he replaced the Omni with, and therefore, I couldn't maim my fellow residents until I was taller.
In the 30-odd years since that purchase, my dad has been a truck man, trading in and leasing new Dodge and Ram products every three years. But I can count on one hand the number of times he's used one of those vehicles to do truck things. There was the occasional load of mulch, and we towed a pop-up camper a few times in my murderous youth, but by and large his trucks existed to get our family from A to B. Whether this is a common occurrence among truck owners, I can't say for certain. But I suspect most of them would be happier with something like the 2022 Ford Maverick.
The Maverick is a return to basics, of sorts, with few frills beyond a usable bed and a sizable backseat, and fewer still of the sacrifices larger, more capable trucks demand. That combo comes at an accessible starting price and, in the case of this hybrid-powered tester, un-truck-like fuel economy numbers.
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|Quick Stats||2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid 4x2|
|Engine:||2.5-liter I4 w/Permanent Magnet Motor|
|Output:||191 Horsepower / 155 Pound-Feet|
|Efficiency:||42 City / 33 Highway / 37 Combined|
Editor’s Note: While we drove a Maverick Lariat with Area 51 paint, a photo snafu means you’re seeing a Maverick XLT in Hot Pepper Red. The interior images are of a Lariat and come from Ford. We apologize for the mixup.
- Exterior Color: Area 51
- Interior Color: Desert Brown
- Wheel Size: 18-inch
The Maverick's exterior might not be for all truck buyers, of course. One could even call this curvy little thing cute, with its rounded front-end and pert butt. The F-Series cues, such as the C-clamp headlights, large-ish grille, and “MAVERICK” stamping on the tailgate are a bit like a toddler wearing his dad's work boots, adorable and absurd in equal measure. Considering the ultra-butch pickups of today, though, the Maverick's friendly exterior is a breath of fresh air.
Still, I do worry that Ford has leaned a little too far into cute and cuddly. Leaving the wheel arches unpainted and offering a sportier grille/bumper option would add just a touch of sportiness that might broaden the truck’s appeal. Overall, the Maverick's exterior is less interesting than the flashier Hyundai Santa Cruz, with its more sporting posture (even if its overall height is down 2 inches on the Maverick) and high-sided bed.
The Maverick's interior is a masterclass on how to make cheap interesting. Plastic dominates, and much of it is the hard, unyielding variety. But Ford dresses up the cabin with fresh shapes, textures, and a liberal use of color, all of which overshadow the low-rent materials. The door panels are fantastic, with a splash of anodized bronze on the grab handle contrasting well with the gray door pocket and its geometric detailing. That same anodized bronze appears again on the dash, with an integrated element stretching the width of the cabin and proudly showing off exposed bolts.
Beyond the materials, the Maverick's cabin is par for the course. It plucks all its primary interfaces from the Ford parts bin, sharing its steering wheel, climate controls, 6.5-inch in-cluster display, and 8.0-inch touchscreen with the Bronco Sport and Escape, which ride atop the same modular front-drive architecture. These are all fine items, but they feel a bit generic relative to the flashier elements in the cabin.
Gallery: 2022 Ford Maverick: Review
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 33.3 Cubic Feet (Bed)
The Maverick's budget price has little impact on its level of comfort. The front seats are supportive and well padded, while the leatherette upholstery feels plenty rich. This tester's Lariat trim adds eight-way power adjustability on the driver's side, although the passenger's controls remain manual. Sightlines are excellent in all directions, owing to the Maverick's expansive greenhouse.
While customers might question whether to go with the larger, more capable Ranger or opt for the Maverick, those that use all five seats will want the smaller truck. The Mav has more headroom in both rows and 1.4 inches of extra second-row legroom. The rear bench lifts up, exposing a sizable storage cubby, while huge door pockets and an ample center console provide plenty of room for stuff. The bed isn't huge, but Ford cites 33.3 cubic feet of space, and as my colleague Brett T. Evans has shown, it's a versatile space with tie-downs and other options for hauling.
Ford's decision to opt for a unibody design over a body-on-frame layout means that, like the Honda Ridgeline, the Maverick rides more like a crossover than a pickup truck. On paved roads, the Ford shrugs off bumps and potholes with none of the annoyances common in larger vehicles. Get off road, though, and the more primitive twist-beam rear suspension (the only setup available on front-drive Mavs) struggles over washboard surfaces, with the limited stability requiring lower speeds. Still, the Maverick's suspension is leaps and bounds better in everyday driving than larger trucks, like the Ranger.
Going for the Maverick's hybrid powertrain leads to surprising refinement, too. While there's no dedicated EV drive mode, this truck's electric elements work well with the 2.5-liter gas engine, keeping noise to a minimum in regular driving. But stand on the gas pedal and the four-cylinder grows shouty and unpleasant until the speed builds and the revs die down. Around town, though, this is a quiet trucklet.
- Center Display: 8.0-inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 6.5-inch
- Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: No
The Maverick might be an entirely new product, but its bones and technology match its platform siblings, the Bronco Sport and Escape (and Europe's Focus). But likely thanks to its budget positioning, this top-end Lariat tester is missing some typically standard equipment. Heated seats, navigation, and even remote start require the $3,340 Lariat Luxury package, for example.
What you will get is a simple, attractive 8.0-inch display running Sync 3 software. The screen is ultra-responsive and quick to start, but beyond wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity, it's little more than an interface for the radio. Oh, and speaking of the audio system, satellite radio is in that same pricey package, although the base six-speaker arrangement avoids the hollow and tinny sound common with low-end audio on affordable cars.
A 6.5-inch cluster display joins the 8.0-inch screen and adds a touch more functionality via various pages. It functions similarly to the displays in other Ford products, with a reconfigurable page, and several preset pieces of information covering trip data, audio info, and even off-road status. Overall, the tech suite fits the Maverick's price, although I wish the standard equipment roster was more robust.
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- Engine: 2.5-liter I4 w/Permanent Magnet Motor
- Output: 191 Horsepower / 155 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: eCVT
Like so many affordable hybrids, the Maverick's gas-electric pairing is designed for frugality. The front-drive-only powertrain is good for 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet in total. Tasked with motivating 3,674 pounds (a mere 57 pounds less than a Maverick with all-wheel drive and the 250-hp turbocharged engine), the hybrid powertrain requires a fair amount of pedal to execute freeway merges and two-lane-road passes. But outside of those wide-open-throttle situations, the Maverick's performance is satisfying.
Off the line and at around-town speeds, the electric motor and 1.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery provide all the torque the Maverick needs. At suburban speeds and in partial-throttle situations, the pairing of gas engine, electric motor, and electric continuously variable transmission feels well thought out. The 2.5-liter is quiet at suburban speeds, and there's rarely any confusion from under the hood about what power source should be in charge. It was only under wide-open throttle that the gas engine's soundtrack grew disruptive. It was also there that the performance faded fastest.
I didn't do any towing with the Maverick, but the hybrid model's 2,000-pound capacity is modest. The turbocharged 2.0-liter model can manage double that (when carrying the 4K Towing pack and all-wheel drive), while Hyundai rates every Santa Cruz – including the 191-hp base model – at 3,500 pounds with a trailer brake equipped. A Santa Cruz with the turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive leads the segment with a 5,000-pound capacity.
Going with any front-drive Maverick means settling for a twist-beam rear suspension, while all variants carry independent McPherson struts up front, like the Bronco Sport and Escape. And in terms of handling, the Maverick skews far closer to its on-road crossover counterpart.
This truck is sharper than the softly sprung Bronco Sport, showing a greater willingness to change direction and less body roll overall. But the unibody construction and similar suspension layout also mean it feels just like any other crossover in a bend – that might be a good thing to first-time truck buyers, but veterans of the breed should consider a lengthy test drive to make sure they're happy with such a change.
Unlike so many hybrids, the Maverick's regenerative brakes are pleasant to modulate. There's some initial grabbiness, but none of the unpredictability at extreme low speeds. After a week at the helm, I’d managed to adjust my driving style to the point that we rarely noticed the switch from regen to friction braking.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 0
- NHTSA Rating: Five Stars Overall
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
Every Maverick comes standard with automatic emergency braking and automatic high beams, but any additional active safety gear requires the $540 Co-Pilot 360 package. That expense is annoying more than anything else. It's one more configuration for Ford to produce, dealers to stock, and customers to navigate, while at the same time, the package adds little – just blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert and lane-keeping assist.
To score the broadest host of active safety systems, you need the $3,340 Lariat Luxury pack and its prerequisite Co-Pilot pack. It includes adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist and lane centering technology, exceeding the low- and mid-pack Santa Cruz trims and matching the two high-end models. Still, it's disappointing Ford requires two option packages on its top trim to add modern active safety technology, particularly on a product targeted towards younger shoppers.
I didn't need to call on emergency braking during my week of testing, but the forward collision warning system did its thing a few times, flashing and beeping away. The system felt a little sensitive, but I suppose when it comes to preventing collisions, that's better than the alternative. While my tester had the Co-Pilot 360 package, I rarely felt the lane-keeping assist at work and had to settle for simple warning animations via the digital cluster rather than noticeable intervention.
- City: 42 MPG
- Highway: 33 MPG
- Combined: 37 MPG
The Maverick's perfect score is little surprise. It's the most economical gas-powered truck on the market, returning 42 miles per gallon city, 33 highway, and 37 combined. In comparison, the front-drive Hyundai Santa Cruz is basically a gas guzzler, netting 21 city, 26 highway, 23 combined. The truck market's previous efficiency leader, the diesel-powered Chevrolet Colorado, can muster 20 city, 30 highway, and 23 combined.
On my 85-mile test route, which included a long highway stretch at 75 miles per hour and plenty of 45-mph country and suburban roads, I recorded a computer-indicated 37.3 miles per gallon (in line with the EPA combined figure), while the Maverick covered 18.5 miles on electric power. As weird as it is to say, if you want an efficient vehicle, maybe try this truck?
- Base Price: $19,995 + $1,495 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $26,985
- As-Tested Price: $28,950
As of this writing, Ford can't build the hybrid-powered Maverick fast enough. If you're able to find one in dealers, prices start at $21,490, including the $1,495 destination charge. That'll score you a base XL on steel wheels, which is a pretty neat look. The Lariat trim demands $26,985 to start, while my tester added on several low-cost options, bringing the as-tested price to $28,950.
The $1,965 in extras included rubberized floor mats ($135), the Co-Pilot 360 pack ($540), and a spray-in bedliner ($495), which are all things I'd order myself. The priciest option was a small-ish sunroof ($795), which felt unnecessary in such a small vehicle with such an airy greenhouse.
Tough as it is to swallow, I'd order the Maverick with the $3,340 Lariat Luxury pack, especially if you live somewhere that's cold for half the year like Michigan. Heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and remote start alone are worth the price of admission. Along with active safety enhancements, upgrades to the bed (a 400-watt outlet with an inverter, LED box lighting, and additional tie downs) and tech touches like an eight-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio system, navigation, and satellite radio, the Maverick's priciest package is as pricey as it is worth considering.
The Maverick's chief rival, the Hyundai Santa Cruz is an overall more expensive proposition. Starting at $25,215, including the $1,225 destination charge, the base SE is quite a bit dearer than a Maverick XL. That said, it's better equipped, with things like wireless Apple CarPlay, standard 18-inch wheels, and standard active safety equipment that Ford offers as an option.
The Santa Cruz's two top-end trims, the SEL Premium and Limited are quite different from the Maverick, packing 281-hp turbocharged engines and all-wheel drive as standard. Instead, look to the mid-range SEL to challenge this front-drive, hybrid-powered Maverick. Starting at $28,415 with front-wheel drive and 191 hp, the Santa Cruz SEL lacks the optional safety gear of the Lariat Luxury pack – adaptive cruise control is completely unavailable, for example – but offers greater towing capacity and similar creature comforts.
Gallery: 2022 Ford Maverick: Review
2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid 4x2