Curbside New Car Non-Review: 2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD – Game On…

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

After coming across and posting the first 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz I found last month, I’ve been stealthily creeping around trying to flush a new Ford Maverick out of the shadows.  Finally this afternoon I struck paydirt.  While we certainly aren’t the first to feature this vehicle, it’s clearly been one of the most anticipated new releases of the year with many attendant ups and maybe a down or two to go with it.

Like the Hyundai, this one has already been titled and belongs to someone so my time skulking around it wasn’t extensive, but I can present a decent overview of my impressions of it.

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

First of all, it’s quite attractive.  And totally different than the Hyundai which it gets compared to mainly due to both being FWD Crossover based (with optional AWD) trucklets that are derived from CUV roots and released at around the same time to much fanfare.  The Hyundai is more modern-aggressively-styled while the Maverick is more conservative but attractive if in no way “edgy”.  I don’t think the Hyundai is way out there either though so I can certainly see people cross-shopping them (I would).

In the case of the Maverick, it’s on the same platform (and assembly line in Mexico) as the Bronco Sport (I’ll emphasize the Sport part here, not the bigger Bronco) and the Escape.  The biggest splash was made when Ford announced that the Maverick would start at a fiver under $20,000 (plus mandatory and comparatively huge $1,495 destination charge, natch) and equipped with a Hybrid engine that has just been rated at 42mpg City by the EPA.

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

The downsides there are two-fold – if one wants the 2.5liter inline four Hybrid, FWD is required, no AWD option (yet) for that engine.  If AWD (and they are careful to call and label it AWD as opposed to 4WD), then the 2.0 liter turbo four is required.  The turbo four though can also be supplied as FWD but it’s hard to see the point of that given the fuel economy rating hit.  Power ratings for the 2.0T are 250hp (@5,500rpm) and 277lb-ft of torque (@3,000rpm) while the Hybrid apparently gets by with 191 ponies (@5,600rpm) and 155 torques (@4,000rpm).

With AWD the mileage figures are 22City, 29Hwy and 25Avg, i.e. a fair deal worse than the 42City, 32Hwy and 37Avg of the Hybrid.  The FWD 2.0 turbo improves on the AWD figures by 1mpg across the board.  That engine includes an 8-speed automatic transmission, a manual is not available.  The Hybrid on the other hand utilizes an eCVT which is not like a normal CVT at all, just unfortunately named similarly.  It’s worth mentioning that although there is an Escape Hybrid, both the motor and the eCVT in the Maverick are all-new designs and not carryover equipment from the Escape.  Perhaps that’s a reason why AWD is not (yet) available in conjunction with the Hybrid here but it may be available in the future (which is just speculation on my part).

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

There are three trim levels, XL, XLT, and Lariat, in both engine formats.  This one is an XLT AWD (so with the 2.0T) in a color called “Area 51”, sort of a blue-gray hue that is quite attractive.  My belief is that this will likely absolutely represent the bulk of the volume, never mind that it’s more expensive than the base one that got all the hype.  The second downside (and this is hopefully temporary) is that Ford says on their website configurator that the Hybrid is “limited availability” and news reports indicate that it is already almost entirely sold out for the entire 2022 model year with order books for it closing in a week or so and no unsold orders permitted (so not for dealer stock).

I don’t believe that means that there were necessarily an absolutely overwhelming number of orders for it, but rather that there was definite interest but the volume is constrained by Ford for whatever reasons, be they production cost or simple capacity.  That production line appears to have a lot of capacity and while there are a number of Bronco Sports on the roads the Escape seems less popular so there should theoretically be room to produce them.  Frankly, at the base price the Hybrid trucklet seems too cheap to be profitable, it really can’t cost that much less to build than a Bronco Sport or an Escape and both of those cost more.  But it (the price) certainly got the hype machine going and no doubt it will absolutely fit the bill for many people.

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

As this one seems to be equipped, an XLT (all versions are the same body, so a four door crew cab with a 4.5-foot bed) starts at $23,365.  Destination is the same $1,495 as described above, then the AWD option forces the 2.0T and that combination adds another $3,305.  As far as I can tell that’s all this truck has.  The wheels are the standard XLT ones (XL has steelies), the very street oriented Continental ProContact are included as opposed to a more All-Terrain version that comes with an FX4 package and while there is a comprehensive Luxury Package for $2,345 this one doesn’t have that as the bed isn’t covered in spray-on black material which is the obvious exterior “tell” for that package.

But there are a variety of standalone options and accessories (as well as forced combinations, some via trim level), so if interested play around with the configurator, this one could have a number of those but I couldn’t tell.  In any case, as this one seems to be equipped and per the pricing above that I found on the configurator the total would be $27,080 before taxes and all that jazz.  And perhaps dealer markups these days too…  The sweet spot on the sticker price might be a little closer to $30k once popular features are added via the Luxury Package.  But this (and in this color to boot) is what I am imagining we will all be seeing all over the place fairly soon.  Note though that at that price (just under $30k) its features and price overlap quite closely with the particular Hyundai Santa Cruz featured here last month.  Perhaps there is a reason Hyundai doesn’t have a value leader like the XL Hybrid FWD.

I wasn’t able to look inside due to the window tint and didn’t want to appear TOO interested based on where I was, but from what I have seen there seems to be an alright if not huge amount of legroom in the back – but note that the Hybrid version loses some of that (I believe it’s an inch) due to the battery location, so if choosing a Hybrid and needing rear seat room don’t assume that every Maverick is the same, they are not.

The word I am hearing is that it will be very difficult to see or try out a Hybrid in a Ford showroom, at least for the foreseeable future.  Hopefully I am wrong but my Ford dealer currently has maybe half a dozen new trucks, one new big Bronco demo car and zero Mavericks.  And I definitely live in Truck Country, it’s always Truck Month around here…  This interior picture is lifted from Ford’s site and is of an XLT model.  The base XL is similar and still has a center screen.  The Lariat is fancier.

Not having actually been inside one I can’t comment on the materials quality and feel but it’s probably similar to other Fords on the lower end of the price spectrum.  Without direct evidence I feel fairly comfortable projecting that the Hyundai’s interior materials may be of slightly higher quality but the Ford may have a few more usable and interesting or whimsical features/touches.

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

Overall the Maverick, while described in many places as “small”, is not small.  It’s actually rather larger than anticipated and bigger than the old Ranger.  It is smaller (shorter in length) than the current Ranger by about ten inches but again, not exactly small.  It is in fact four inches longer than the Santa Cruz I linked to above.  However with four doors and a bed actually being small was never realistic.  Let’s just say it’s “handy” but if your idea of small or your parking limitations are more in line with a Buick Encore, then this will seem large.

The rear bumper is all plastic but with a large step to clamber into the bed with which seems useful, the license plate is offset to the side in order to facilitate the (optional) hitch.  I haven’t seen a side-mounted rear plate since the boattail Riviera decades ago, but it makes sense here, if anything it’s interesting it’s on the curb side, not the street side.

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

The bed is about 4.5 feet long and notable for several nice things.  There are a number of tiedown points, something that seems shockingly inexpensive to provide but yet there almost never seem to be enough as standard equipment.  There are a couple of what look like very little stowage bins (one on either side).  And the indentations on the wheel well are there for the owner to put a cut 2×4 across and then set the tailgate in an angled position by looping the straps over an attachment point on either side.

This then allows about 500 pounds of plywood or whatever your favorite flat 4×8 material is to ride flat while hanging out past the tailgate but being supported by its edge (the material still needs to be tied down to guard against it all just sliding out.)  Just setting it into the bed and angling it over the closed tailgate seems like it would potentially damage the front edge or corners of the material.  Bags of mulch though, well, bring those on!

Maximum payload is around 1,500 pounds; that includes passengers, luggage or whatever inside and whatever fits in the bed combined.  It can also handle all of that in the bed according to Ford, so a 100lb Soccer Mom could load 1,400 pounds of Girl Scout Cookies into the bed, no worries.  That’s for any configuration, apparently.  The standard tow rating is 2,000 pounds and there is a 4K towing package available for the 2.0turbo engine that ups the tow rating to, yep, 4,000 pounds.

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

Width is less than that of a full-size truck of course but the bed is surprisingly deep.  Or the truck is surprisingly tall.  Or both.  In any case when I stood next to it flatfooted (and we all know I am 6’1″ with this time an irrelevant 32″ inseam, I was able to touch the inside of the bed but not anywhere near the center and not with my flat hand.  Wrangling a bucket or can of paint out of it seems easy if it’s near a side, but if a smaller item ends up in the center of the bed, no way is it reachable from outside of the truck for most people.

If you are under six feet tall it’s unlikely that you’d touch the bed either from the side.  It is nothing like the VW Rabbit pickup or the Dodge Rampage for example, both notable for being FWD unibody pickup designs.  The above picture was taken facing the rear of the truck from the driver’s side and I am touching the bed just behind the wheel well with the side rail firmly in my arm pit.

Overall volume of the bed is 33.3 cubic feet and it is made of steel.  For comparison, the Santa Cruz’s bed holds 27 cubic feet, is made from a sheet molded compound (which has been proven durable in other applications) but also features an in-bed lower trunk (sort of like the Honda Ridgeline’s).  An F-150 meanwhile can hold 52.8 cubic feet of stuff in its most commonly seen suburb-Dad format (standard length with Crew Cab) 5.5 foot bed.  A cubic yard (27 cubic feet) of decorative gravel is a lot of shoveling, even for the smallest of these, although it generally weighs more than any of their payload ratings, even the F-150’s.  Stick to (dry) mulch.

2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD

Many people wouldn’t need much more bed space than what is here and the bed itself makes the truck more “tough” than a “Cute-Ute” like an Escape or CR-V or whatever.  Ford has shown a conceptual topper that looks quite good too if having that rear enclosed is a desire.  Of course the aftermarket will surely have all manner of shells and tonneau covers available quite soon too.

Overall this seems like a very good value if one can contain themselves with the option list.  Yes, the bare bones Hybrid XL FWD is the cheapie and if you can get one, is likely a fantastic value, but that doesn’t look too easy.  However opting for a few more creature comforts and capability isn’t a terribly huge amount of money more either, at least not judging by what people are paying for larger trucks (and cars).  It looks like Ford has a winner here, as likely does Hyundai, but both had better start producing some serious volume as I predict this space to get more crowded within the next 24 months or so.