Ford’s tiny pickup so popular, you’ll be lucky to find one
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/05/2022 (312 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SALT SPRING ISLAND, British Columbia — People wouldn’t like the 2022 Ford Maverick, they said. Too small, they said. Not trucklike enough, they said. Well, what do they know, anyway?
Ford in Canada is practically sold out — 4,116 sold so far and more on the way, all spoken for — and is not taking any orders until the order bank for 2023 models opens later this summer.
It’s easy to see why.
The Maverick is compact, fuel-efficient, fun-to-drive and much more handy than its small size might suggest.
It’s also the first vehicle to flip the script on hybrid pricing, with the well-equipped base model a front-wheel-drive hybrid for less than $28,000, and gas models more than that. Until now, hybrids were usually at the top end of a model’s price range.
That hybrid is parsimony personified, with our average while driving the hilly terrain of Salt Spring Island registering a miserly 5.4 litres per 100 kilometres. The gas model, which comes with a 2.5-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder, isn’t much thirstier, at 7.4 litres per 100 km.
It’s hitting the market at the perfect time. While it wasn’t possible when the project began four to five years ago to predict Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting spike in gas prices, Ford, which by then had abandoned all cars aside from Mustang, was already working on a fuel-efficient answer to customers seeking better gas mileage.
“Maverick is meant to attract a new kind of customer, who is used to driving small sedans or hatchbacks or is missing the practicality of the small pickup truck,” Matheiu Rompre, vehicle line program manager for Maverick in Canada, said, while dismissing criticism of its size.
“It looks like a pickup truck. It is a pickup truck.”
Indeed, the box is short, at only four feet long. But it’s also four feet wide, and six feet long when the tailgate is down. Not only that, but it’s also designed to carry 4×8 sheets of plywood. To do that, you place a 2×6 into provided slots across the front of the box and set the tailgate to about a 30-degree up angle, creating a level means of transporting the eight-foot-long sheets. (The 2×6 is needed to hold the plywood above the wheel wells, the distance between which isn’t four feet.)
That 2×6 can also be used to hold an attachment for the front fork of a bicycle, allowing drivers to carry a bike (or bikes) in the box (using additional tie-down straps, of course).
For drivers with toys, hybrid models will tow up to 2,000 pounds and gas models, when equipped with the towing package, up to 4,000 pounds. If you weren’t expecting a vehicle like this to provide control for electric trailer brakes, you’ll be surprised.
The most comparable platform on which Maverick is based is Bronco, which means the Mav is a unibody design, which imparts several benefits, not the least of which is ride quality. With the entire body structure as one from front to back, the chassis stiffness is improved over traditional body-on-frame trucks, where the only structural connections from front to back are two frame rails.
That translates not only into a good ride quality, it also makes for excellent handling. It carved the roads on Salt Spring, and the next day between Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew and Sooke on Vancouver Island with surprising aplomb. The independent rear suspension also suggests it will be less prone to walking sideways over washboard roads.
Maverick is the first truck in a long time to not look as though it needs its own postal code. Even the modern Ranger is larger than the F-150 once was. Time was, a pickup truck driver could walk up to the side of his truck box and reach whatever was on the bed. Those days vanished with the rise of the monster trucks, including the new F-150.
Those days are back with Maverick. Not only that, but Maverick is short enough that even average sized drivers can see the roof while standing on the ground.
As a nod to the maker crowd — those people who like to build their own solutions — Maverick comes with several little cubbies as well as a Fits system, a series of slots that hold slide-in attachment points for storage devices limited only by the owner’s imagination. One such owner used a 3D printer to create a platform that holds a bag for dog food storage as well as a little cup for water for the critter to drink.
Ford supplies the necessary CAD files to recreate a number of devices with a 3D printer, from cupholders to a device with a gimbel to mount a smartphone or tablet using the cubby to the right of the infotainment system.
If there are criticisms of Maverick, they’re few: the transmissions (an electronic continuously variable transmission in the hybrid and an eight-speed automatic in gas models) do not provide for gear selection beyond Drive and Low. There were several steep descents on this drive where the ability to shift down a gear or two and let engine braking do most of the work controlling speed would have been nice.
Also, fans of Sirius satellite radio should know it’s only available on the top Lariat trim. Unavailability at lower price points might be a nod to the younger potential customer, who might already be accustomed to streaming music through Spotify, Pandora or others.
A marketing tie-in to the new Tom Cruise Top Gun sequel opening May 27 might seem obvious, but given how quickly 2022 models were scooped up, it seems the message to Maverick hopefuls for now is:
“Negative, ghost rider, the pattern is full.”
Copy Editor, Autos Reporter
Kelly Taylor is a Winnipeg Free Press copy editor and award-winning automotive journalist. He's been a member of the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada since 2001.
Updated on Friday, May 13, 2022 12:32 PM CDT: Corrects graph on satellite radio