This is the 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid XL. A few weeks ago, while reviewing a Nissan Frontier, I commented that I was excited to see the small pickup truck market coming back to life. It really is a great solution to the choices new truck buyers are facing these days. Crazy fuel prices flanked by a newfound appreciation for travel and adventure after over two years of being locked up under pandemic orders. It’s the right time for small trucks, and customers seem to be responding well. The most exciting entrant into the market of all though is the new Ford Maverick.
At a quick glance it looks similar in shape and size to an old Ranger or Chevrolet S10, but there’s a lot more going here. The Maverick is a front-drive unibody platform, with a standard hybrid powertrain, seating for five, and a functional bed. It is an extremely versatile vehicle and fills a gap between crossover and pickup truck. Best of all, it is available at some very affordable prices points, and happily, my Maverick XL tester is as basic as they come. So, we get to see how much small pickup $26,900 buys.
Ford nailed the styling on these in my opinion. It’s boxy, utilitarian, and just quirky enough to be interesting. It looks like a fairly rugged little truck from the outside; smart plastic cladding around the rocker panels and wheel wells to protect the body from damage, a 4.5-foot bed with a multi-position tail gate to help handle longer loads, and silver painted steel wheels. Yes, just basic steel wheels, and I love them! They compliment Ford’s “Area 51” grey paint well and suit the truck’s utilitarian personality.
The Maverick’s bed might be small, but it works hard with six handy tie-downs, which I put to use along with the multi-position gate, to haul a load of hardwood flooring with ease thanks to the 1500-pound payload capacity. The bed also comes standard with two pre-wired 12V outlets, and can be optioned with a 400-watt household power outlet as well. The bed’s lower height also makes loading a breeze compared to a full-size truck.
That same practical thinking carries into the truck as well. The interior, while spartan in the base XL, has everything you really need. Comfortable cloth seats, an eight-inch touchscreen, 4G-LTE hotspot, single zone automatic climate control, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, and two USB power outlets. The front of the cab is quite spacious and offers plenty of storage in a deep center console bin, large tray, two big cupholders and deep door pockets. The rear seat area offers plenty of room for baby seats, or older children, and will seat up to three in a pinch. Legroom is on the tight side for taller adults, but the seats feature flip-up bottoms revealing handy under seat storage.
As you would expect in Canada’s cheapest pickup truck, the interior is far from fancy, but I was impressed by Ford’s use of different textures, shapes and colors to make the space look and feel interesting. It’s a far nicer cab than one might expect in a bare-bones truck. I only had a couple little gripes with it all week. For one, there are no heated seats or heated steering wheel, which are practically mandatory in Canada these days, and the plastic steering wheel does feel really cheap in your hands. These issues are resolved if you step up to an XLT model and opt for the Luxury Package.
The base model XL Maverick comes with a 2.5-liter hybrid engine mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that flows 191 horsepower to the front wheels. It took me a bit to get my head around the idea of a front-drive hybrid pickup truck, but after logging some miles in it, I started to come around. The powertrain is sluggish to get up to speed, and the engine can be a little harsh, but a gentle right foot goes a long way to keeping the power flowing smoothly, and the Maverick generally has no issues keeping up with traffic or making highway passes.
More importantly though, the hybrid powertrain pays large dividends at the pumps. After a week of running around town, and one good highway run into the downtown core and back, I observed an average of 6.5L/100km. In my mind, that’s stellar, especially for a boxy truck with an open bed.
If you’re not quite ready to jump on board with the whole front-drive hybrid idea, there is a more traditional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine available making a healthy 250 horsepower, which mates to an eight-speed automatic and an available all-wheel-drive system. I got a chance to drive such an example as well and can attest to the fact that it feels much peppier than the hybrid, but don’t expect anywhere near the same kind of fuel economy.
The Maverick is not shy on capability either, as even the base model has a payload capacity of 1,500-pounds and towing 2000-pounds. Stepping up to the larger engine can push the max towing to 4,000 pounds. As a result of this, it does drive like a truck and depending on your preferences, that may or may not be a bad thing. The most notable trait is firm suspension, required for payload and towing, which is rather harsh on broken pavement. Noise levels in the cabin are surprisingly well controlled, visibility is great and the turning radius is very tight. Handling is dull with slow response to steering inputs, but that’s not what the Maverick is about.
The Maverick starts at a downright cheap $26,900 for a base XL like our tester, and you can move up-trim without blowing the budget. A hybrid XLT starts at $29,650 and comes with more features such as alloy rims, cruise control, power mirrors, an upgraded interior and more. You can upgrade that XLT to the more powerful engine and AWD for a mere $2,000 fee, and step up to the top-of-the-line Lariat for $35,100. The Lariat features a long list of upgrades such as 18-inch wheels, eight-way leather heated seats, ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, push button start, and more. These are prices more akin to the compact sedan segment than pickup trucks.
The 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid XL is the first pickup truck that I can honestly say is game-changing. It’s not without its flaws, but they’re all part of the charm as a cheap, cheerful, efficient, and practical little workhorse. It’s a capable truck for the price of a compact car, the possibilities here are endless and I can think of countless situations where this truck would absolutely be a perfect fit. The success of the Maverick doesn’t only have implications on the pickup truck market, it has the potential to impact the compact crossover and sedan markets as well, giving budget minded shoppers an option they never had before.