On Tuesday, Ford unveiled its new Maverick pickup, a truck the company is billing as its smallest and most fuel-efficient yet. With the hybrid powertrain comes a compact bed that’s “hackable” and a two-row cab, making for a vehicle that looks to be plenty capable and versatile that starts sub-$20k.
Standard hybrid ekes out 40 mpg city (37 combined) to make the Maverick the most fuel-efficient pickup on the market
Also available with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that bumps horsepower and torque to 250 hp and 277 lb-ft, respectively (up from the standard 191 and 155)
1,500-pound hauling capacity, 2,000 pounds of towing
Starting MSRP: $19,995
Recently, I was talking with my dad, and he mentioned how much he wanted the new Ford F-150 Lightning. I don’t blame him. I would gladly trade in my beat-up, early-aughts Silverado for a fully electric pickup of that size and capability. But the thing is, he and my mom are city dwellers who need to squeeze their Mustang, Prius, and motorcycle into a parking garage so tight, I sometimes worry I’ll bump my head against the ceiling when simply walking through it. And as far as I know, the heaviest hauling they do requires loading bikes onto a rack for drives to the trailhead or upstate.
Good timing, then, that Ford announced its Maverick pickup this week, a rig meant for people with many of those same needs who prioritize fuel efficiency, flexibility, practicality, and (some) hauling capacity. The truck stands to be the most affordable and have the best economy for its class on the market.
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The Maverick will get up to 40 mpg and 500 miles of range on a single tank—twice what the more expensive Lightning is projected to get—in its standard hybrid configuration. That front-wheel-drive build comes with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a 95-kilowatt electric motor and is capable of pulling 2,000 pounds. If you want four-wheel-drive and twice the towing power, you can opt for higher trims with a 2-liter EcoBoost engine, but that means forgoing the benefits of the hybrid powertrain. Drive modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Tow/Haul, with Mud/Ruts and Sand modes replacing Eco and Sport in the available FX4 off-road package.
When I spoke earlier this week with Jim Baumbick, manager of product development for Ford, he mentioned how he and the team behind the Maverick took inspiration from the DIY community and seeing how people hack their vehicles. So they designed the 4.5-foot-long bed of the truck, dubbed Flexbed, to facilitate that kind of tinkering and customization.
Ford built slots into the side of the bed, and you can easily drop in 2x4s or 2x6s to create raised platforms or separate sections for storage. The company will also be selling a bolt-in cargo system, but QR codes on the Ford site will provide a handy list of materials that you can buy at a hardware store and plans to build your desired hack, like a bike rack, suited to the dimensions of the bed. That likely will end up being cheaper than the $200 pre-built system. Two tie-downs, four D-rings, and threaded holes boost that customizability.
But the Maverick isn’t all play; it also has some features to suit the lighter needs of tradespeople. Two 12-volt electrical outlets (which can power a lighting kit you can purchase or serve as the base for something you build yourself) and two available 110-volt outlets (one in the bed and the other in the cab) will power things like tools and electronics.
Plus, the tailgate can remain open halfway, supported by its cables and a set of latch pins. Ford says this is good for hauling things like 4 x 8-foot sheets of plywood fully horizontal—propped up on the gate and the wheel arches—instead of having to close the gate and angle to wood up over it. And, should you decide to imbibe at your destination, there are built-in bottle openers.
Baumbick also described the Maverick as a mashup of the Flexbed with the interior space of Ford’s Fusion. And the truck does look sedan-comfortable inside. There’s an 8-inch touchscreen, with climate-control broken out into physical buttons on the center stack (always a plus in my book). Storage bins on the doors can accommodate a laptop, while you can pay more for the ability to flip up the back row of seats to reveal a bin for stashing larger objects. Ford also includes a tether system so you can add things like cupholders and hooks to the under-seat storage or back of the center console.
Safety features like adaptive cruise control, collision warnings, rear camera, and a slew of available steering assistance round out the helpful tech.
In short, if the Maverick lives up to its potential, it will be the Ford truck I would recommend my dad get if he does buy one. It packs a nice balance of adventure- and homeowner-focused capability into a package you can more easily parallel park on the street or slide into a cramped garage. That everyday practicality balanced with weekend aspiration makes for an appealing an accessible option.
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