EAST HADDAM, CT – Sometimes it’s like lightning in a bottle. A new vehicle comes along and leaves you with the question, “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” The fact is, quite often, somebody did but the timing and the world around us just weren’t ready for it.
Take the minivan, for example. Despite what many think, Chrysler didn’t invent it. There were VW Kombi buses running around decades before the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager.
And when it comes to the compact, unibody pickup like today’s Ford Maverick, Subaru Bajas were plying the roads some twenty years ago. Both were niche vehicles, however, and somewhat ahead of their time as far as market acceptance was concerned.
Fast forward to today and the pickup truck has become America’s sweetheart. They’re everywhere; so much so that parking lots are overrun with them. They barely fit in common parking spaces; not to mention many average garages at home. This is why folding mirrors have become a necessity instead of just a nice-to-have as they elbow their way in and among our narrow, twisty two-lane roads.
Meanwhile, we continue to live with fuel cost instability (if not, surprise) because of supply chain and political uncertainty.
Enter the Ford Maverick.
It’s a small, light-duty utility truck with a more SUV-like persona because it’s based on the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport crossover platform. It combines functionality with comfort and convenience without carrying the usual girth along with it.
Ford is the only automaker that offers a three-pickup portfolio. It starts with compact Maverick and includes the mid-size Ranger and, finally, the big boy/girl F-150, etc.
The Maverick is actually just two-of-a-kind, because it currently has but one competitor – the Hyundai Santa Cruz.
It’s the first pickup to be powered by a hybrid engine (2.5-liter, four-cylinder). The Maverick delivers 191 hp/155 lb.-ft. torque and 42 city and 33 highway miles per gallon through a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).
The Tremor version that I tested came with a brawnier, 250 hp/277 lb.-ft. torque, 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It takes the towing capacity up from 2,000 pounds to 4,000 and the fuel economy down to 22 city/29 highway. While the EcoBoost clearly offers more oomph, it’s not quite as refined as the hybrid.
The Maverick’s compact proportions do limit its audience to singles, couples or small families. At 6’ 4”, I had the driver’s seat all the way back which left marginal legroom in the rear of the four-door crew cab.
There are no two-doors or extended cabs in the Maverick line. The usual plethora of Ford trim groups are available, though, such as Lariat and XLT. This ensures that there’s an alternative for everyone. Along with an abundance of standard, state-of-the-art safety features beneath the Co-Pilot360™ umbrella, not to mention various connectivity and infotainment suites. And tow packages, too.
The Maverick base price is an attractive $23,400, with front-wheel drive, with AWD (all-wheel drive) costing $2,220 more. Things can easily escalate from there. The Tremor option group adds $2,995 to the bottom-line and it’s for those with more ambitious offroad intentions. The package includes 17-inch wheels with gnarly all-terrain tires, skid plates, a 1-inch ride height increase via revised springs and shocks, a locking rear drive and more. Along with appropriate appearance upgrades for those who plan to peruse the road less traveled.
Unless you’re really committed to the cause, my opinion is the Tremor Package degrades what was previously a comfortable and accommodating mini truck for the masses. The tires howl a bit on the highway. The increased ride height numbs what had been a nimble playmate and the engine’s a little noisier. After all, Merriam-Webster does define a tremor as “a quivering or vibratory motion” that causes “a feeling of uncertainty.”
I do remain a staunch Maverick supporter in its mainstream form. The trendy truck is the right vehicle at the right time, for the right audience. It’s for those who are financially and environmentally conscious, who appreciate in-use integrity, with active lifestyles, and who want to set themselves apart from the crowd. They’re sellin’ like hotcakes. If you can find one don’t expect any discounts. In fact, you’ll probably be asked to pay a premium to lasso a Maverick.
(Photos courtesy of Ford unless otherwise noted.)