One of my favorite pastimes is to corner people and loudly and wetly complain at them about how all of the good small, cheap pickup trucks are gone. It looks like I may need to find a new hobby, as Ford’s just-revealed 2022 Maverick is a small pickup that starts at around $20,000. Thanks to a standard hybrid drivetrain, Ford says it’ll get a surprising 40 mpg in the city, and the version with the optional turbo Ecoboost engine can tow up to 4,000 pounds. It’s about time.
Unlike Ford’s larger trucks, the Maverick is a unibody design, which helps to keep it light and can make for better packaging. The base model truck, called the Maverick XL (even though it’s really sort of an M at most, if this is a size analogy) is a first for Ford trucks in that the standard engine is a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine. You know, like a Prius or a Mazda Millenia.
The reason for the Atkinson cycle is because the engine is a hybrid, and with the electric motor lending a hand (or, really, a shaft) the base engine makes a respectable 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. The bed is four and a half feet long, and with the hybrid engine you can load up to 1,500 pounds of whatever in it, and tow up to 2,000 pounds of more whatever, possibly in the shape of a jet ski.
This Hybrid XL model starts at $19,995, which may be the most impressive spec yet.
The Ecoboost 2-liter turbo engine is an option across the board, and with that option ticked power jumps to 250 HP and 277 pound-feet of twisting. The towing rating doubles to 4,000 pounds with this engine, and instead of the standard, hybrid-friendly CVT transmission, the bigger engine gets an eight-speed auto, along with an option for all-wheel drive.
The higher spec versions also add a useful storage cubby in the bed and more tie-downs, which are always useful.
With the tailgate down, the bed’s length increases to six feet, and there’s a pair of tie-downs standard, four D-rings, and some threaded receptacles for other future add-ons and accessories.
It appears that a bed liner is not standard, but all have plastic protection on the bed upper rails that extend into the C-pillar.
Ford’s already got a commercial showing the bed in use, carrying such decadent materials as “wood,” which recently seems to be something you might want to carry in an armored truck, based on the cost:
Even though it’s tempting to call this a “small” truck, it’s really not that small. It’s only available in a four-door, crew cab body style, and it’s almost 200 inches long. That’s a good 30 or so inches shorter than the full-size F-150, but we’re not talking Ford Courier-size here. It’s very much a mid-sized truck, not a true compact. It’s built on the same Ford C2 platform as the Bronco Sport, with a wheelbase of 105.7 inches.
Tech-wise, there seems to be plenty packed into even the base Maverick, including a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, the now-expected center-stack touchscreen display, two USB ports (only two?), Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and two 12V outlets in the bed, with two 400W, 110V wall-type outlets as an option.
The base model’s dash still uses physical, analog gauges with needles and a small inset color LCD display. The interior looks to be well-designed and hard-wearing, with some interesting plastic textures going on and what looks like a cubby inset into the center touchscreen housing:
Other interior shots reveal under-rear-seat storage compartments, though it appears those rear cupholders are a decadent option:
The overall design looks good, keeping Ford’s established angular design language and some novel lighting design — we’ll dig into the design a bit more later.
While I was hoping for a genuinely small truck, the realities of the current market make that unlikely, but I think what Ford delivered is actually quite promising: starting at around $20,000, genuinely good fuel economy, and a fairly useful, straightforward design. I can see this being a popular work truck as well as an alternative to some small crossovers and SUVs.
I’m eager to try this thing out and see how it works.