ANIMATED MEASURE OF THE “CAR”: In the historic vernacular traditional sedans, coupes and hatchbacks comprise “Cars,” while all else can be summed up as “Trucks.” Fortunately for work vehicles, Disney Pixar’s embraces Sir Tow Mater, a tow pickup truck as much Lighting McQueen, a NASCAR race stock car, in the “CARS” animated vehicle film series.
UNIBODY BY A TRUCK MAKER: It is no breaking news that traditional passenger “Cars” [other than sport cars] continue to slip from the American stream of purchasing consciousness, requiring substantial profit chewing discounts to foist on the vehicle buying public. What is novel is Ford Motor Company’s response to consumer zero compromise lifestyle wants and shareholder P&L statement red ink demands. This year the Dearborn Michigan based car and truck maker has rather scandalously pared it’s car offerings down to one in the U.S.: the Mustang sport coupe…well two if you count the 2-seat LeMans styled GT hyper sport car.
Not conceding the void in the entry vehicle segment the Blue Oval this year offers as close to fuel efficient compromise passenger and utility hauling as it gets. A trademarked heritage car name, from the distant past has been applied to a compact uni-body pickup truck. Car makers Honda with their Ridgeline and more recently Hyundai with Santa Cruz, who were earlier to the punch with their unibody pickups, prefer theirs are not referred to as trucks. The head honchos in Dearborn, though, have no qualms with their all -new entry level zero compromise people and light work duty 2022 Ford Maverick being called a truck (truckcar).
* * * * * * * * * * * *
WHAT: 2022 Ford Maverick XLT 2.5L HEV Hybrid At 16.5 feet in length, one foot shorter than the smallest body on frame T6 Ranger, this new unitized body pickup truck sits on the global C2 platform shared Bronco Sport and Ford Escape compact crossover SUVs (employing the latter’s powertrain).
The trademarked nameplate has been revived from the 1970s compact car and derives from “un-branded, free range longhorn cattle.” However “Maverick” had been attached by Ford to non U.S. market vehicles such as a re-badged Y60 Nissan Patrol in Australia and the first generation of CD European and Chinese version of Mazda Tribute derived Ford Escape.
- Standard Powertrain:
- 2487 cc Atkinson cycle, dual VVT-i DOHC 24V start-stop idle I-4 cylinder 191 hp (142 kW), 209 lb-ft net hybrid
- gasoline engine: 163 hp/ 155 lb-ft @ 5700 rpm; arranged parallel to
- 1 x 450V synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor, front wheels: 94 kW (126 hp), 173 lb-ft, coaxially mounted with
- 1 x 450V synchronous AC Hybrid Starter Generator, DC to DC inverter: 8 kW
- Battery electric supply: Lithium Ion 1.1 kWh, 296 V, 76 cells x 4300 mAh
- Continuously Variable front drive transaxle, parallel shaft gearset coupled
Optional Powertrain: 2.0L intercooled turbocharged DOHC 16V DI gas I-4, w/ idle Start/ Stop = 270 hp / 310 lb-ft @3000 rpm + 8-speed torque converter lock planetary gear automatic transmission.
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: On the outside the 2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup wears hints of full-size F-Series such as inboard “C” shaped LED head and taillamps. Those are bisected in front by amber directionals leading to single lateral bar lattice grille spiltter and in the rear by back-ups. Front fender aft vents listing trim and a mid tailgate dish is filled by embossed “MAVERICK” lettering. Wheel arches are work vehicle large but a cross-over’s ground clearance dispenses with any need for running boards. Lighter duty dark urethane bumper covers and side skirts fill-in heavy duty steel pieces, while window framing, door handles and side mirrors receive similar coloring. Consistent with other unitized body truck beds, a urethane top sill slopes towards the rear. Any potential center license place cavity is displaced trailer hitch panel on the lower rear bumper thus the vehicle tag is affixed to the right.
XLT’s own: “Magnetic Alloy” graphite colored wheels
WHY: Compact sedans and sportbacks no more, the newest starting point on Blue Oval’s order sheet is crossover based pickup truck.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2021
WHERE: Ford new consumer vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
WHERE TO: +/- Gas battery electric hybrid Maverick is exclusively front wheel drive for now.
HOW STRONG: Maverick’s standard gas electric hybrid powertrain is straight out of Escape HEV using Toyota HSD technology. Ford calls the transaxle “Powersplit,” although it is a CVT which couples to engine and front traction motor. Both net power and torque approximating 200 get the launch job done, but the ratios won’t get into the upper engine speed bands, the better to avoid coarse sounds. Unsurprisingly there is no manumatic shifting, though a low ratio lock for hill descent is accounted for. What is bargained for is low fuel consumption. To that end the electric mode is silent, the firing of the Atkinson cycle gas powerplant is mostly obscure while underway. Even the emissions choking idle Start/ Stop doesn’t dilly dally when the brake foot begins to lift. Ford dares buyers to find anything else at the price point comparably sized and versatile sipping at 36 miles per gallon.
HOW LIMBER: A fully independent chassis beneath endows the new Ford Maverick with civility unknown to mid and full size pickup trucks. Also the unitized body to bed is surprisingly averse to demonstrating flex. It’s sprung to tow and to carry more than an Escape, though, so less anti-lean tautness is to be expected. Effort required by the electric assist steering pinion rack effort isn’t taxing the better to commute with. Good diameter disc brakes all-around promise more bite than delivered, while the pedal travels too deep.
HOW FAR: 36 mpg combined fuel economy; 470 miles highway range
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ Fits neatly within a 20 foot garage, easy nose-in perpendicular stall parking; √ Compact car row 2 passenger legroom; √ 4×8′ drywall or plywood fits above wheelhouses and hangs over bed with liftgate lowered by about 1 foot.
- Wheelbase (SuperCrew, 5′ Box): 128.3″ inches = +1.5″ vs. Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T AWD
- Row 2 legroom: 35.8″ inches = -1.3″ vs. Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T AWD
HOW USEFUL: √ Crinkle finish sprayed-in bed liner; √ Deep bumper spanning step; √ Easy action tailgate hinges; √ White LED overhead bed light; √ 60:40 split 2nd Row fold-up bench cushions; √ 2nd Row sub-bench storage tray; √ 1st Row full fore center console deep storage management; √ 1st & 2nd Row door pocket management
- +/- EZ tailgate (hydraulic strut) assist is a user installed $50 accessory
- -1 Flex Bed w/ power supply, J-channel adjustable cargo box cleats optional; Backlight aperture is Lariat trim exclusive; Short door pockets
• Ford Maverick XLT 2.5L Hybrid: Tow Rating (at tongue) = 2,000 lbs. (Towing pkg.); Payload Rating = 1500 lbs.
HOW SAFE: Not yet tested by IIHS (related Ford Escape CUV = Top Safety Pick)
• STANDARD: √ 8 airbags; √ Rear camera w/ predictive grid; √ Audible rear park assist; √ Roll mitigation; √ MyKey restrictive access; √ Automatic high beam headlights; -1 Dim headlights
AVAILABLE (included in tested vehicle): Ford Co-Pilot360: √ Blind Spot, rear cross traffic Warning; √ Post collision S.O.S. alert; √ Forward collision, pedestrian detection warning w/ avoidance braking; √ Lane Departure Warning & Steer Prevention; √ Emergency evasive steering
View Outwards: +1 FORE: Low cowl, sail panel wing mirrors; + SIDE: Thin head rests, B-pillars; -1 REAR: short backlight
HOW FRIENDLY: Since the new Ford Maverick splashes stylish panache on a contemporary commute, light work environment. Splashy dashboard, door and console color contrast, bold shapes possess youthful appeal. Physical controls and displays stick with minimalist intuitive tried and true, while material selection economizes in a way that evades notice. The XLT trim might be sparse on powered decadence, but given the practicality the cabin doesn’t deprive occupants of a peaceful, comfortable excursion.
√ Ballistic cloth seating, front bucket style, 6-way driver’s, 4-way pax manual adjust; √ Tilt & telescoping steering wheel w/ redundant toggle & button controls; √ Dual analog ELD gauges w/ color 4.2″ MFD; √ Automatic climate control; √ Easy access left lower dashboard dimmer & rotary light switch; √ Key fob entry, keyed ignition; √ Power windows x 4, driver’s full express; √ 2nd Row privacy glass; Cupholders x 4, Door bottle holders x 4
AVAILABLE on XLT (not included on test vehicle): heated front seats, 8-way power driver’s, & steering wheel, 400 W AC outlet x 2 (1 in bed); 2nd Row USB, bed tie down rails; towing hitch receiver
- +1 Wind & road noise isolation
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Orange colored rubberized grip grab, open storage surfaces, and seat contrast stitching;
Details Done Right: √ “Corian” like specked light matte surface dash shelf and door pockets; √ 2-tone “stone-wash” denim-like seat surfaces; √ Blue-green night switch illumination; √ Variable color cabin door, foot-well and console ambient illumination; √ Sun-wash resistant gauge binnacle;
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Body to bed panel gaps; Narrow front bucket seats cope with pedal offset; Unyielding seat cushions tire the torso; Long reach to the dash top mount media screen; Long to reach center console rotary transmission selector
HOW CONNECTED: √ variable theme color MyFord Sync3 center dash embedded 8.0″-inch split-screen, capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen w/ twin audio control knobs; √ Bluetooth & voice command hands-free communications; √ SMS text messaging; √ 6-speaker, 180 Watt; √ variable media screen theme colors; √ illuminated USB-A x 1, USB-C x 1 (Rows 1), 12V x 2 (Rows 1, 2)
- -1 Media display contrast daytime color contrast washed out
HOW “APP” -LICABLE:
√ Android Auto / Apple Car Play smart phone projection; √ MyFord Sync3 Apps include Pandora, IHeart streaming music
- +1 MyFord Sync3 voice commands for climate
- FordPass Connect remote start and vehicle status
By Subscription: √ Wi-Fi 4G LTE hot spot (by Verizon Wireless)
HOW MUCH: $25,525 for a 2022 Ford Maverick XLT 2.5L Hybrid front wheel drive. Maverick XL Hybrid is priced $4000 less.
WHAT’S MISSING: ALL WHEEL DRIVE, wider center console storage bin; adaptive cruise control
ANY COMPETITION: Currently None Directly; upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz hybrid, eventual Honda Ridgeline hybrid
FINAL SAY-SO: Sold out for 2022, this “Caruck” or “Truckcar” might well be a character in the next Pixar installment of CARS.
(Contributing Editor: T. Paluch)