Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
Ford Maverick

Ford hopes to garner new sales with its Maverick truck

By Jim Bray
July 28, 2022

Ford has long been the "king of trucks'", at least when it comes to overall sales of its long-time top seller F-150. But the company is heading in a new direction with its brand-new Maverick, a pickup truck that isn't built like most other pickups.

The Maverick is more like Honda's Ridgeline than the F-150, or its smaller sibling the Ranger. This means that, rather than being built "body on frame" the way most pickup trucks are, it's a more car-like unibody arrangement that may not be as robust as the "dedicated" pickup trucks, but which brings its own delights to the equation – for instance, in overall driveability.

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It's a rare combination in pickup trucks. Besides the Maverick and the Ridgeline, I can only think of one other such truck/car combo and that's Hyundai's new Santa Cruz, which I haven't had a chance to see – let alone drive – yet.

So, the Maverick competes in a small niche. How does it do?

I thought it was terrific. Now, I'm not a truck guy and never will be, but within about a minute of having picked up Ford of Canada's sample Maverick, I was impressed mightily by how it drives. It drives more like a car – or, I guess, an SUV – than a truck, and to me that's a really good thing.

Most of the "regular" pickup trucks in which I've had seat time don't drive nearly as well as the Maverick. Plus, the full-sized ones are hard for me to get into (and out of without face planting) unless they come with running boards – and, once you're inside, you'll find that most of them chitter along, the rear end sliding over frost heaves, speed bumps, and the like. It isn't a great driving experience – but it does boast a lot of utility. So, if you need lots of "heavy duty" utility, the Maverick probably won't be your cup of tea.

But if your hauling needs aren't as robust, or as frequent, you might find a truck like this could be just what the doctor ordered.

Assuming you still trust doctors…

Ford's sample Maverick was a tad more up market than the base version, which was fine with me: base Mavericks are hybrids, "boasting" a 2.5 litre Atkinson cycle engine (191 combined horsepower and 155 lb.-ft. of torque) mated to an electronic continuously variable transmission. The standard version also comes only with front wheel drive, which may or may not be what you want. But since I bristle at the thought of a CVT, I'm glad Ford sent one with a "real" transmission.

But the base model is pretty cheap: $25,900 Canadian dollars, not counting the other fees and taxes you'll be extorted on behalf of Leviathan.

I can't imagine that one being nearly as interesting to drive as Ford's sample, which was the Lariat FX-4 version, with "intelligent" all-wheel drive (though it couldn't solve quadratic equations for me) and a quite satisfying two litre EcoBoost engine and a real, eight speed automatic transmission. Despite those eight speeds, the transmission selector (which is rotary, on the centre console) only gives you the traditional PRNDL configuration readout on the dashboard, and no manual mode to speak of – but in my experience, it worked just fine.

The EcoBoost version offers up 250 horses and 277 torquey-like thingies, and Ford says it'll tow up to 4000 pounds.  

Maverick's "FLEXBED" system includes a multi-position tailgate, a subdividable bed, 10 available anchor points, two 12-volt 20-amp outlets and two available 110-volt outlets for powering a laptop or a tailgate party.

Ford says Maverick can haul up to 1,500 pounds of stuff in its bed – they say it's equal to "37 bags of 40-pound mulch" (I pity the poor Ford staffer who had to prove that!). Even the hybrid can give you 2,000 pounds of towing (a ton of fun!), though of course that pales to the EcoBoost's 4,000.

The non-truck-like mien (the Maverick is supposedly based on the Escape platform) means it's simple to get into and out of and, because it's relatively small, it's easy to turn and to park and – unlike some of the big truck competition – its side mirrors don't block the driver's view out the side windows. This makes it more difficult to mow down pedestrians with oblivious abandon, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Well, I can think of a few pedestrians…

The driving position was nearly perfect for me, though the driver's seat (which adjusts with power) seems designed for someone a tad taller than me, and with longer thighs. This wasn't a big deal, however. And the rear seat is generous and should hold three people without them resorting to fisticuffs.

The interior is pretty state-of-the-art, in that it boasts stuff like an eight-inch screen atop the centre stack that offers Apple and Android compatibility. There's also, as standard equipment, "FordPass Connect" with an embedded modem and "Ford Co-Pilot360" stuff such as Automatic Emergency Braking and Automatic High Beam Headlamps.

The armrests inside the doors look a bit weird – they stop suddenly and then pick up again a few inches back – but it's actually a pretty neat design device that lets you store tall bottles (or whatever) in the door and the door pockets have enough vertical clearance to handle your tablet or notebook. There's also a storage bin available under the rear seats that Ford says "fits a fully inflated volleyball, laptop bags, roller blades, tools and other gear."

Ford offers the Maverick in three trim levels – XL, XLT and Lariat. There's an FX4 package available for the all-wheel-drive XLT and Lariat trucks ($1,120), which Ford says adds more off-road capability, with "rugged all-terrain tires and suspension tuning, additional underbody protection, and off-road-focused drive modes like Mud/Rut and Sand, as well as the addition of Hill Descent Control."

Ford's sample Maverick came with an outrageously loud, yet oddly attractive, "Cyber Orange" Tri-Coat Metallic paint ($550) that hearkened back to the original Ford Maverick, a car which was available with such whimsical paint colours as "Thanks Vermilion" and "Original Cinnamon". The Cyber Orange sure made it easy to find the Maverick in parking lots!

You also get all the usual safety nannies everyone is forced to pay for these days, but in typical Ford tradition you can shut the damn things off and they won't bother you any more.

Ford's sample came with the $4,700 Lariat luxury package, which adds stuff like satellite radio capability, rear parking sensor and eight tie-downs for the bed.  A "4K tow package" adds $750 to the tally as well, and the sample's 17-inch wheels ticked the total up by another $1,115.

The sample Lariat's price began a $34,450, but the nearly 10 grand in options brought that to an as-tested price of $44,050. For comparison, a top-line Honda Ridgeline Black Edition (according to Honda Canada's website) starts at $56,435 – though for that you also get a 3.5 litre V6 that puts out 280 horsepower.

I have to admit, though, in my never humble opinion, Fords these days are a lot less annoying to live with than Hondas, thanks to the latter's weirdly conceived interfaces (Ford continues to be among the most well thought out interfaces among the vehicles I get to drive) and really, really, really annoying nannies.

One thing I thought kind of odd was the requirement to actually take the key fob out of your pocket and stick it into a keyhole on the steering column to fire up the Maverick. You can unlock the vehicle remotely with the fob, which is as it should be, but it's just plain weird not having a push button start/stop in a modern vehicle. Not a big deal, and hardly a deal breaker, but odd to find in 2022.

I think Ford has a winner with the Maverick. It's clearly a compromise between "real" trucks and SUV's, but, as a truck, it drives better than it has any right to. And that, to me, is a huge plus, especially if it's going to be your daily driver.

And if you need something more robust once in a while, just rent an F-150.

Copyright 2022 Jim Bray

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