by Frank A. Aukofer

It’s clever and so simple, but it illustrates the creative thinking that went into the design and engineering of the all-new 2022 Ford Maverick XL pickup truck.

It’s the tailgate, which everyone takes for granted but is becoming a design element of its own, as witnessed on the multi-talented tailgate on the GMC full-size pickups.

Not complicated on the Maverick. Drop the tailgate, and it lines up flush with the cargo bed. But simply move the side cable supports to a higher connection, and it stops on an angle. 

That enables the Maverick, with its 4.5-foot cargo bed, to carry the familiar 4X8-foot sheets of plywood. They rest on the rear wheel well arches and line up precisely with the tilted tailgate. There also are tie-downs to secure the plywood and other cargo.

Ford also has produced do-it-yourself videos called “Hack Your Maverick” that have detailed instructions and costs of materials to make and install a bed rack for $45 to secure two bicycles; another to make a bed side rail for additional tie-downs, also $45, and a third to add an air compressor and bed lighting for $60. Electrical connections for the last lurk behind a small door on the left-rear side of the bed.

It’s all in keeping with Ford’s laudable effort to deliver a genuine low-cost pickup truck and compact passenger carrier in one package. The company has decided to stop making passenger cars to concentrate on trucks, crossovers, and other sport utility vehicles, some with electric power. 

The new Maverick is a precursor. The base XL model with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission was tested for this review. The standard power source is a hybrid, with a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and two electric motors delivering a combined 191 horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque, which earned a city/highway/combined fuel economy rating from the EPA of 42/33/37 mpg. 

You also can order all-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that makes 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. That setup comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

There are three Maverick versions: the tested XL with a $21,490 price tag, including the destination charge; XLT at $23,775, and Lariat at $26,985.

Though it lacks a few amenities, the tested XL came with comfortable cloth upholstery with good seat bolsters and plenty of head, knee, and leg room for four passengers. There’s a center seatbelt in the back for a fifth passenger, who gets a hard cushion and intrusion of a floor hump and the center console.

The XL does not have power outside mirrors, so you must adjust them manually by reaching out the windows. There’s also no cruise control, automatic climate control, or satellite radio. The air conditioning is manual, single zone. But Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. There’s an eight-inch center touch screen, AM-FM stereo radio, power windows and door locks, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Wi-Fi hot spot, and automatic emergency braking.

On the road, the XL’s hybrid power train delivered strong, seamless, and smooth performance, not unlike the new Ford Bronco Sport, with which it shares a platform. Without an instrumented test, the estimate here is that the zero-to-60-mph acceleration is in the seven- to eight-second range, so it’s no slouch in traffic.

The Maverick cruised quietly in modest motoring on smooth roads. Things get a bit more raucous with engine and road noise intrusion at Interstate speeds, but overall, there’s little hesitation in taking a long cruise.

It also feels planted on the road, though the ride can get a bit bouncy on rough surfaces — as with most empty pickup trucks. There’s a solid feel and feedback through the steering, and the Maverick takes curves flat, with little lean, if you don’t push it too hard. Its relatively small size enables a tight turning circle and good maneuverability in crowded places. 

There’s no denying that Ford knows trucks. Its full-size F-150 is the most popular vehicle in the United States and has been the best-selling pickup truck for over 40 years. 

Specifications

  • Model: 2022 Ford Maverick XL hybrid four-door, five-passenger pickup truck.
  • Engine/motors: 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline; two electric motors; combined 191 hp, 155 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Continuously variable automatic with front-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 8 inches, including 4.5-foot cargo bed.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 104/33 cubic feet.
  • Height: 5 feet 9 inches.
  • Weight: 3,674 pounds.
  • Payload: 1,500 pounds:
  • Towing capability: 2,000 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 42/33/37 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $21,490.
  • Price as tested: $21,490.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Ford