Versatility champ
THE GOOD
  • Clever and cool cabin
  • Overall versatility
  • Efficient gas-only version
THE BAD
  • Bland exterior
  • No standard heated seats
  • Gets pricey with options

The 2022 Ford Maverick serves as a good reminder that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Now, as someone who writes stuff on the internet for a living, I realize there’s some irony we need to sort through – and we will. I’m not here to be contrarian, either, nor is it my job to provide confirmation bias for those of you who are already hyped about this little truck (and rightfully so).

But if you happen upon some write-up lambasting this small pickup as a disappointment, be sure to scrutinize the source. Your first question should be whether or not the person behind the keyboard has actually driven the Maverick in the first place. Without that prerequisite, proceed at your own peril.

Well, dear reader, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve driven the new Maverick, and the disappointments are few and far between.

Styling: 9/10

In truth, it’s a little bland and boring to look at – at least to my eyes. It’s mostly the front end that falls short of what it could be, and not just because the similarly sized Hyundai Santa Cruz is so bold by comparison. That the Maverick shares its underpinnings with the Ford Bronco Sport (as well as the Escape, it should be noted) and is built alongside that compact crossover has left at least some prospective owners on social media wondering what it would look like wearing that retro-inspired mug.

It’s a valid question, but one that’s easy to ignore once inside. To call the cabin inspired is an understatement, with the range-topping Lariat trim in particular mixing materials, textures, and colours to perfection. It screams Bronco Sport but with an extra dose of character, the grey plastic on the dash and doors moulded with seemingly abstract geometric patterns, and copper-coloured door pulls finished with a quartet each of exposed hex screws.

Practicality: 9/10

The interior doesn’t just look good – it’s functional, too. The door pockets front and back feature a couple bottle holders each, while the centre console is finished with a variety of cubbies to stash small items (the one in front of the gear selector can be optionally equipped with a wireless phone charger). The rear bench seat can also be flipped up to reveal a reasonably sized cargo well, although the entire lower cushion lifts as one piece rather than as two, as is the case in most trucks.

It’s not just space for stuff that’s well thought out here, but the overall space itself. Small though the Maverick may be, the cabin feels much more like that of a midsize truck – and, indeed, its dimensions are strikingly similar to those of a crew cab Ford Ranger. While there’s noticeably less headroom here – particularly when fitted with the optional sunroof ($1,115) – cabin width is about the same, while there’s more rear legroom in this compact. It’s still not the place I’d prefer to sit, especially not for extended periods; but my 6-foot-3 frame fits with relative ease, which should be the bigger takeaway.

Of course, the bed is smaller than the Ranger’s, although it’s far from useless. There isn’t enough width to fit the proverbial sheet of plywood between the wheel housings, but they’re low, long, and flat enough to fit one on top. Officially, the bed measures 1,382 mm (54 in) long, while payload checks in at 680 kg (1,500 lb) – both respectable. There’s also all manner of tie-downs in the back for securing cargo, plus the XLT and Lariat trims have two small storage cubbies in the back (one of them was swapped for a 400-watt electrical outlet in this tester).

Should you opt for a gas-powered version instead of the standard hybrid system, the Maverick is rated to pull 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) when fitted with the $800 tow package. Not only does it add a Class III hitch and seven-pin connector, but a transmission cooler and upgraded radiator are included, as is a built-in trailer brake controller. Unfortunately, the towing test I had planned fell apart at the last minute, so we’ll have to revisit this capability at a later date.

User Friendliness: 8/10

This being a crossover-based unibody pickup, the step-in – that is, the height of the bottom of the door frames – is lower than that of a conventional truck, which means climbing aboard is as easy as it gets. Even so, at 218 mm (8.6 in) there’s nearly as much minimum ground clearance as the Ranger. No, the Maverick isn’t built for backwoods sojourns, but with all-wheel drive and its optional FX4 package ($1,120) it gets goodies like underbody skid plates and various terrain-specific drive modes.

Those drive modes are accessed using a button on the centre console, which is also where you’ll find the rotary-style shifter – not my favourite form of gear selection, but it works just fine here. Graciously, Ford opted for conventional climate controls, with buttons and dials on the centre stack that are about as easy to use as they get. Mounted high above them is an eight-inch touch display that looks a little awkward in its housing, with a small cubby occupying the right side rather than a larger screen (a Ford Canada spokesperson assured me this was by design).

The display itself looks and feels a generation or two old compared to other new Ford models I’ve tested recently – not just in terms of size and orientation, but as far as refresh rate and responsiveness. Swiping through menus, for instance, leads to some lag, while the interface itself doesn’t boast many frills.

Features: 8/10

Standard across the lineup is a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot, as well as compatibility with Ford’s smartphone app that can lock and unlock the vehicle and call up various data points like location and fuel level. Unfortunately, neither worked during a week-long test despite my best efforts, with the app unable to connect following multiple attempts, and the hotspot repeatedly sending me to a login screen despite having an active account paired to the truck.

Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections come standard, and both worked without issue during testing. While not wireless, they can be connected to via USB-A or USB-C ports, with one more of each on the back of the centre console in this Lariat trim. Those smartphone interfaces also respond to inputs more quickly than Ford’s system itself while allowing Google Maps (or Apple Maps, if you’re so inclined) to be called up for navigation duty.

Unfortunately – and somewhat oddly – heated seats aren’t standard fare in any of the three trims available, and are offered only as part of a pricey add-on package for the XLT and Lariat trims. Likewise, this tester’s heated steering wheel is included with the upgrade package that also includes an eight-speaker stereo, satellite radio, and a wireless phone charger, among others.

Safety: 7/10

Opting for the Lariat trim’s $4,700 Luxury package is the only way to get lane-centring and evasive steering assist, as well as adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic. That means none of those features can be had with a hybrid-powered Maverick. Otherwise, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning with lane-keep assist can be added to any trim for a reasonable $850, while forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and automatic high-beam headlights are standard, as is a government-mandated back-up camera.

When equipped with the whole kit and caboodle, the Maverick is a dream to drive on the highway, gently applying steering assistance to keep the truck centred in its lane of travel even along winding roads. Only once, on a steep uphill section of highway, did the system urgently apply throttle; otherwise, it proved well-measured and matched the speed of preceding vehicles with ease.

Power: 9/10

That brings us to the question of what powers this pint-sized pickup. Because while XL and XLT trims are fitted with a standard gas-electric unit, it’s been kept out of the range-topping Lariat. More than that, though, those hybrid versions can’t be had with all-wheel drive, while the gas engine comes with it. (According to that same Ford spokesperson, there’s nothing in Maverick’s design that would stop the brand from building a gas-electric version with all-wheel drive “if there is enough demand.”)

What I sampled came powered by a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder – the same engine found in both the Bronco Sport Badlands and Escape Titanium. It’s a stout little motor, making 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, and it does well to motivate this mini-truck. While it gets a little gruff and clattery with the pedal pressed to the floor, it’s well-suited to the Maverick’s size and pairs well with an eight-speed automatic transmission that’s been problematic in the past but worked flawlessly here.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

Better still, the gearing is such that it stays below 2,000 rpm at triple-digit speeds on the highway, and that pays dividends at the fuel pumps. Naturally, the front-wheel-drive version and its gas-electric powertrain will be the more efficient choice; officially, it’s rated to burn a combined 6.3 L/100 km. But given the way this turbocharged version is set up, the 9.6 L/100 km combined it’s rated to return is as respectable as it is achievable.

In fact, during a cold and windy evaluation drive covering some 210 km, I managed to burn just 9.1 L/100 km spread across major and secondary highways, as well as some city driving, too. To put that in perspective, the front-wheel-drive Honda Accord powered by a similar 2.0L turbo engine is rated to consume that much regular-grade gas. While the final tally here registered at 10.2 L/100 km spread across some 500 km, that included some extra idling during a bitterly cold day of filming. By comparison, I managed 9.9 L/100 km in the Bronco Sport Badlands with this same drivetrain last winter.

Driving Feel: 9/10

That efficiency is even more impressive considering the way in which the truck’s all-wheel drive system works. It’s fully automated, which means there’s no way for the system to be manipulated beyond the various drive modes. That means it prioritizes powering the front wheels in order to cut fuel consumption, although it sends torque to the rear ones should those lose traction, as well as when accelerating. Better still, it works absolutely seamlessly, with no binding or any noticeable changes when all four wheels are being driven.

Beyond the drivetrain being well-matched to the Maverick’s size, it’s also responsive, with no signs of turbo lag despite all the engine’s torque arriving at a rather late 3,000 rpm. Get on the gas and you’re greeted with a surge of smooth momentum that makes highway merging quick and effortless. While the Bronco Sport’s steering wheel paddle shifters would be handy here, particularly when towing, this truck is an exercise in ease of use behind the wheel.

Going back to its shared underpinnings with those two compact crossovers, the drive isn’t very much at all like that of a conventional truck, feeling far more nimble and responsive. There’s barely anything resembling body roll, with a taut chassis and decent steering that’s obviously artificial but pairs well with the personality of this pickup.

Comfort: 9.5/10

Its unibody construction also means there’s no pitching forward and back on uneven surfaces the way its conventional contemporaries do. Again, it’s more crossover than truck – although it manages to feel more truck-like than the Santa Cruz. But where the Bronco Sport rides like the Escape and vice versa, this has a quality that isn’t unlike the larger Ford Explorer. It’s likely a result of the longer wheelbase than its platform-mates, with none of the rigidity found in both the Escape and Bronco Sport. While potholes and pressure cracks are noticeable at low speeds, the suspension damping is soft and smooth.

Wind noise is perhaps a decibel or two louder than it could be inside, but overall the cabin is quiet and free of squeaks and creaks. The driver’s seat is comfortable, too, with just enough give in the cushions to settle into it rather than sit on top despite the rather flat and firm appearance. And just like in the all-electric Mustang Mach-E, Ford’s synthetic leather found in the Lariat trim has proven once again to be among the best in the business.

Value: 8/10

Pricing for the 2022 Ford Maverick is downright cheap, with the base truck starting at $27,895 before tax but including a non-negotiable freight charge of $1,995. That jumps to $30,695 with the turbo motor and all-wheel drive, which is still reasonable, while options are limited to the towing ($800) and basic safety ($850) packages, as well as a host of accessories. That makes for an appealing pre-tax price – with both packages, as well as a spray-in bedliner and roll-up tonneau cover, it rings in at just $34,145 – but the lack of heated seats would be a problem for someone like me.

The mid-grade XLT trim is priced at $30,795 for the hybrid and $33,295 for the gas-only version, with its options list expanding to include a $3,150 package of goodies like heated seats, as well as the $1,120 FX4 package that’s offered with the gas version. Finally, there’s the gas-only Maverick Lariat that’s $36,745 before tax – but that price can climb quickly with options. In the case of this tester, the $46,395 Ford wants for it chips away at this truck’s value proposition.

The Verdict

Aside from my concerns about the runaway sticker price at the top of the line, the 2022 Ford Maverick is the latest in a string of hits for the automaker, albeit for reasons all its own. It’s flexible and user-friendly, with versatility that punches well above its weight. It’s a truck that drives like a crossover that still works like a truck.

Versatility isn’t something that can be measured, but you know it when you see it. In the case of the Maverick, it’s written all over. The cabin is clever and well-packaged, it’s got decent payload and towing capacities, and it’s reasonably efficient – even with the gas engine under the hood. The only sticking point for me remains that features like heated seats are gate-kept behind pricey packages in the XLT and Lariat trims.

It’s not my job to decide whether this or any other vehicle is going to work for your specific needs – that’s up to you. But I can tell you when a vehicle just makes plain sense, and that’s certainly the case here. Take it from someone who’s driven it: the 2022 Ford Maverick has what it takes to be one of the most versatile trucks on the market.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 2.0L   Model Tested 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat
Engine Cylinders Turbo I4   Base Price $34,750
Peak Horsepower 250 hp @ 5,500 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 277 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm   Destination Fee $1,995
Fuel Economy 10.7 / 8.1 / 9.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $46,340
Cargo Space 940 L  
Optional Equipment
$9,495 – Lariat Luxury Package, $4,700; FX4 Off-Road Package, $1,120; 17-inch Machined Alloy Wheels, $1,115; Power Sunroof, $1,115; Tow Package, $745; Alto Blue Metallic Paint, $450; All-Weather Floorliners, $250