Hybrid enhances small Ford Maverick

The Ford Maverick XLT Hybrid beside ice- and snow-covered lake. (Bud Wells)

Ford, for more than 40 years the greatest seller of full-size pickup trucks, may be building success with its newly introduced light-size entry.

I’m referring to the 2022 Ford Maverick small pickup, for which Ford said retail orders throughFebruary are already equal to its full-year’s production expectations, and that it has stopped accepting more orders. Order-taking for the little pickup will resume in August, when production begins on the 2023 Maverick at the Ford Hermosillo plant in Mexico.

Herrick Garnsey, former longtime Ford dealer in Greeley, sits in new Maverick. (Bud Wells)

The Maverick is built on a front-wheel-drive-based unibody platform shared between the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport. It is almost a foot shorter and 500 pounds lighter than the Ford Ranger compact and reminds some of the mini-pickups of the 1980s and ‘90s, though is much more technically advanced. Those minis included Chevy Luv, Datsun, Dodge D-50, Ford Courier, Isuzu P’up, Mitsubishi Mighty Max, Plymouth Arrow, Subaru Brat, Toyota, Volkswagen Rabbit.

I’ve been driving the ’22 Ford Maverick XLT Hybrid, a front-wheel-drive four-door, with a 191-horsepower gas/electric system including 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, an electric motor and continuously variable automatic transmission.

Jan and I took the Maverick for a pleasant afternoon drive of 56 miles, including 6.9 miles of electric charge. The overall fuel average was 40.1 miles per gallon. For an entire week of more than 250 miles driven, the average was 37.2. Its EPA estimate is 42 miles per gallon in city driving and 33 on the highway.

Here is a bit more of what you get for the $26,950 sticker price on the Maverick XLT FWD: cruise control, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, alloy wheels, full-size spare, body-color door handles and Ford Co-Pilot360 of blind-spot info with cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping system, driver alert, manual-sliding rear window and manual-folding sideview mirrors.

The Maverick’s Flexbed offers light and electrical outlets. (Ford)

Its pickup bed is 52-inch by 58-inch and can handle 4-by-8 sheets of plywood when they’re slid in on top of the wheel wells. The lightweight tailgate can be adjusted to multi-positions. Without the XLT Luxury Package, the Maverick Hybrid XL beginning price is $21,490.

The hybrid performance is very smooth and plenty gutsy in town, though of milder response on the highway, with some engine drone occurring under heavy acceleration while climbing.

In addition to the hybrid powertrain, the Maverick can be purchased with an optional 250-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission, in either front-wheel or all-wheel-drive configuration. EPA ratings for the gas-only version are 23/30 for the FWD and 22/29 for the AWD.

The name selected for the new pickup is somewhat of a head-scratcher. Maverick was used by Ford to identify a 1970-77 compact sedan, which was of no great significance in sales or reputation of that era.

A flaw for me when stepping into the driver’s-side floor area with the seat fully back, the end of track for the power-seat slide is rough on an ankle.

On a wheelbase of 121.1 inches, the Maverick is 199.2 inches in overall length, with curb weight of 3,674 pounds. With a fuel tank of 13.8 gallons, the range for the Maverick Hybrid is more than 500 miles.