2022 Ford Maverick is Far More Than It Needed to Be

Ford makes the best-selling pickup of all time, its full-size F-150, but not everybody needs to pull a 30-foot RV or haul a ton of rocks. The Ranger is a tidier package for city dwellers, but it costs nearly as much as an F-150 and certainly enjoys a tall drink of fuel. For those of us who really just need to tote a little mulch or a couple of bicycles, and still slippin’ parallel park, the Ford Maverick is far better than it needed to be.

Ford could have shortened the Ranger platform and slapped a new body on top of its separate frame and solid rear axle, but made the better choice of basing the Maverick on the Escape’s and Bronco Sport’s integrated crossover architecture. That gave it the right style, the tight handling, and the basis for a segment-busting baby rancher.

Styling clearly connects it to its larger siblings, but the Maverick has its own look too. A streamlined front with LED headlamps fronts a three-box design with crew cab, 17” dark alloy wheels, and spray-in bedliner. The bed also features 10 tie-down hooks and a power outlet. True pickup fans will notice something missing: A gap between the body and bed because, well, the Maverick doesn’t have or need one.

Ford could have given the Maverick a black plastic interior with monocolor cloth seats, but it didn’t. Instead, the XLT gets two-tone cloth seats, console with orange inserts, and orange accents on the air vents too. There’s a lot of plastic, but designers added interest with contrasting light and darker gray plus diamond patterns formed into the doors. Some of the plastic looks like stone. Ford definitely made the most of every penny to keep prices down.

Nothing feels cheap, including the rotary gear selector, thumping audio system, and intuitive swipescreen. The steering wheel is rubber, but grippy thick. Click devices into 4G Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Beyond roomy armrest storage and deep door pockets with drink holders, the rear seat flips up for additional storage or to side-load bicycles. Safety is enhanced by automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection.

The base Maverick’s hybrid powertrain achieves a frugal 42/33-MPG city/highway, but the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in our test vehicle puts a peppy 250 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque to the ground through the front wheels. Say, what? Yep, the front wheels. Normally, I’d want all-wheel-drive in a pickup, but front-drive with traction control should handle virtually any inclement weather while delivering 23/30-MPG city/highway.

Plant your foot into the turbo for a giggle. Attacking on-ramps and accelerating away from unmentionable speeds is a joy, but that engine also allows owners to carry 1,500 lbs. of payload or tow up to 4,000 lbs. Unlike body-on-frame pickups, the Maverick twists and shouts as one cohesive form that feels very solid. I prefer the fully independent suspension on all-wheel-drive models, but you’d have to consult specs to out our front-drive edition’s twist beam out back.

Ford could have just made the Maverick a cheap little truck with a bargain price. Instead, it created a piece of art that handles like a sport sedan, blows compacts off the road, and can still get a little dirty on weekends. In total, the Ford Maverick is far more than it needed to be, especially given a $20,995 base price or $26,420 as-tested.

Storm Forward!

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2022 Ford Maverick XLT

Five-passenger, FWD Pickup

Powertrain: 2.0-liter T4, 8-spd trans

Output: 250hp/277 lb.-ft. torque

Suspension f/r: Ind/Twistbeam

Wheels f/r: 17”/17” alloy

Brakes f/r: disc/disc

Must-have features: Style, Simplicity

Towing: 4,000 lbs

Fuel economy: 23/30 mpg city/hwy

Assembly: Hermosillo, Mexico

Base/As-tested price: $20,995/$26,420