Ford is known for its massive F-150 pickup truck, which is America’s best-selling vehicle. However, with the introduction of its new Maverick compact pickup, which will be offered as a front-wheel-drive hybrid, it is attempting to demonstrate that it can also rule in the booming market for small trucks.
Since the original Ford Ranger was phased out of production in 2012, Ford hasn’t provided a true compact truck in the United States. In 2018, Ford debuted a new Ranger, a mid-size truck, but it’s still a lot bigger than the Maverick.
Aside from its size, the Ford Maverick is a game-changer. Most notably, the least costly base model will be a front-wheel-drive hybrid with both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. (However, because it is not a plug-in hybrid, owners will not be able to charge it for additional electric-only driving range.) Ford has lately begun selling a hybrid version of the large F-150, although it is not the entry-level model.
While front-wheel drive is widespread in automobiles and even crossover SUVs, it is uncommon in trucks. Because the transmission is not housed beneath the hood, rear-wheel-drive allows for larger engines. Also, because there is greater weight in the back of a truck when hauling big goods or towing, rear-wheel-drive can provide better traction in those instances. However, because there is no transmission under the passenger compartment, front-wheel drive provides for more economical use of space in a vehicle.
Smaller truck sales are getting increasingly competitive. Hyundai has revealed the Santa Cruz, a “Sport Adventure Vehicle” according to the Korean carmaker. Nissan also just unveiled a revamped Frontier mid-size pickup vehicle. Toyota’s robust Tacoma mid-sized vehicle is the clear market leader in smaller vehicles in the United States. According to Cox Automotive, the Tacoma, which is still larger than the Maverick, accounts for more than 40% of all mid-sized trucks sold in the United States. In that segment, the F-150 has a bigger market share than full-size trucks.
None of those vehicles, though, are as compact as the Maverick, which is almost a foot shorter than the Tacoma bumper to bumper. The Maverick will cost around $20,000 to purchase. That’s cheaper than other vehicles on the market and roughly $5,000 less than the current Ford Ranger, which is sized between between the Maverick and the F-150. The cost of a well-equipped four-wheel-drive Maverick will start around $30,000.
Although there will be off-road versions of the Maverick, it is primarily suited for city and suburban streets. Only a four-door body style will be available, with seating for up to five passengers.
“Maverick challenges the established quo and stereotypes of what a pickup truck can be,” said Todd Eckert, marketing manager for Ford’s truck group. “We hope it will entice a lot of folks who have never considered a truck before.”
A non-hybrid variant of the Maverick will be available with a turbocharged 250-horsepower engine that can deliver up to 277 pound-feet of torque. The non-hybrid Maverick will also be available with all-wheel drive, something the hybrid vehicle will not have. Additional than the base model, Ford has not stated how much the other variations will cost.
The hybrid Maverick will be able to pull 2,000 pounds and carry 1,500 pounds of payload. It will be able to tow up to 4,000 pounds thanks to the turbocharged engine.
A four-cylinder gasoline engine is paired with an electric motor in the Maverick’s hybrid base model. They have a combined output of 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque, which is a measure of pulling power that is generally used to rank pickup trucks.
It’s also unusual for a vehicle’s base model to be a hybrid, but Ford engineers explained that they intended to stress fuel economy and value in this truck. According to Ford, the Maverick will get roughly 40 miles per gallon in city driving. Ford did not provide highway mileage or total driving estimates.
The Maverick is not just shorter front to back than Ford’s other vehicles, but it is also lower, with cargo bed walls that are designed to be accessed easily. This is also a significant advantage for a vehicle parked in a congested urban parking area, when access from the tailgate may be problematic.
The Maverick features two eight-inch square covered apertures on either side of the bed to carry small objects, as well as optional electric power connectors. The Maverick, like some other pickup trucks, has spaces where wooden boards can be used to form separators to keep goods in place.
The back seats may be folded down to provide a large storage area beneath. Special triangular slots in the interior of the Maverick are meant to handle a range of accessories, such as additional cupholders or phone holders. Owners will be able to manufacture their own accessories to fit the slots using 3-D printing instructions provided by Ford.
Much of the new Maverick’s engineering will be shared with the Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Escape SUVs. According to Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader, this type of “platform sharing” should make Ford’s return to the compact truck market an appealing financial proposition. Sharing engineering across multiple models spreads development and manufacturing expenses, making it easier for those models to generate profit for the manufacturer.
The Ford Maverick is set to hit the market this fall.