2022 Ford Maverick Driving Notes: Details Matter

2022 Ford Maverick Driving Notes: Details Matter

03/04/2022

The Ford Maverick has been one of the Blue Oval’s biggest debuts in recent history – ironic, given the pickup’s compact size. Further adding to Ford’s truck portfolio, the combination of crossover-like driving characteristics, an available hybrid engine, and some truck-like qualities make the Maverick an instant hit.

We love the Ford Maverick so much, in fact, that we’ve made it a point to spend time in nearly every version. Our testers have ranged from the base XL model to the top-end Lariat trim, with both the optional hybrid and standard gas powertrains on display. And spoiler alert: each and every one of them is fantastic.

Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief

  • Favorite Thing: Thoughtful Door Handles
  • Least Favorite Thing: Reality Vs. Expectations

Listen, the Maverick is a cute, right-sized, fuel efficient pickup truck with a nice blend of utility and technology. It’s affordable and I have no doubt sales will go great guns when the various microchip and supply chain issues have been wrestled into submission. I’m impressed with the total package.

But I was really impressed with the interior door handles, the first time I got into the truck on a cold, January morning.

To be very clear, I’m not talking about the very normal door pulls that unlatch the door. I’m talking about the kind of floating extension on the door-mounted armrest, just behind where you’ll find the window switch. This small extrusion of plastic – vaguely diamond-shaped with four bolts – doesn’t have to exist at all. In many vehicles the armrest would either end three inches earlier or extend across the width of the door.

Positioned where it is, it gives Maverick drivers or passengers a bit of subtly brilliant UX. For one, it’s very handy to grab hold of, even while wearing a bulky glove (and if there’s one thing truckmakers like, it’s catering to people wearing gloves). But because it doesn’t span the door, it still leaves room for something tall and/or awkwardly shaped to be stashed in the door pocket below.

A tiny thing. I’m not sure I can even call it a “feature.” But it’s an expression of attention to detail that makes me feel great about the truck as a whole.

I was late to the Maverick game. The first drives, reviews, video shakedowns, and social media takes had all moved to the day-old bin by the time I drove the truck.

Having consumed a lot of that content, I expected the Maverick to be pretty revolutionary. To split the difference, I suppose, between the driving experience of a car and the practicality of a truck. Instead, I think the Maverick is just a nice little truck.

A good little truck is a great thing to have. In a week I got to haul a big load of cardboard to the recycling center. I bought a snow shovel and 50 pounds of ice melt. I took my kids to daycare. Through it all, I never forgot that I was driving a small pickup.

Things like NVH, ride quality and handling are all well managed for this segment, but they’re also not segment-busting. Even the EcoBoost powertrain, which I expected to make the truck rather sprightly, was less punchy than I’d hoped.

None of that is elementally bad if you’re in the market to drive a truck on the daily. However, if you thought that perhaps the Maverick was a more perfect blend of car/SUV/pickup DNA, as I did, consider this a course correction.

Brandon Turkus, Managing Editor

  • Favorite Thing: The Best Cheap Interior
  • Least Favorite Thing: Lousy Option Packaging

Now, yes, as you’re about to read, Jeff is not a fan of the plastic interior. I respect that, but I also disagree because “hard plastic” sells the Maverick’s cabin short. I drove the range-topping Lariat, but even the base and mid-range trims do a fine job of dressing up that hard plastic with interesting shapes, colors, and textures. As I said in my review of the Maverick, this is a cheap interior done right.

That’s doubly true on the Lariat, which splashes trim pieces with an anodized-look amber on the dash and doors. The exposed bolts are neat as hell, and the Desert Brown leatherette feels richer than the Lariat’s sub-$30,000 price tag would indicate. And while there is a lot of plastic, the Maverick I drove felt solid and well constructed. The trim pieces and door panels didn’t creak, rattle, or flex. Yes, hard plastic sucks, but Ford has done a fine job of minimizing the material’s cheapness in the Maverick.

The Blue Oval could do a better job on the equipment packaging, of course. The Lariat has but two option packs – the $650 Co-Pilot 360 pack and the $3,750 Lariat Luxury pack. The latter is hard to ignore, adding a host of features including heated seats, remote start, a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, a spray-in bedliner, satellite radio, and adaptive cruise control. But it also increases the Lariat’s starting price by over 10 percent. That’s a big ask for a budget vehicle.

Look, I get why Ford is taking this approach – it limits the number of build configurations and results in more efficient manufacturing. More efficiency means more profits. But customers shouldn’t need to drive their Maverick’s price past $30,000 to get heated seats. Give us a few a la carte options – butt warmers and a heated steering wheel, perhaps, or bundle adaptive cruise with the Co-Pilot 360 so consumers aren’t forced to spend $4,400 to get the safest Maverick possible.

Jeff Perez, Senior Editor

  • Favorite Thing: A Joy To Drive
  • Least Favorite Thing: Hard Plastic Interior

The Ford Maverick’s unibody design and compact size make it an absolute joy to drive. Whether you’re puttering around town or hitting the highway for a few hours, the Maverick feels completely relaxed in either setting, unlike some larger body-on-frame pickups that are less pleasant on the road.

The XLT Hybrid offers up a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid setup producing 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet, which is plenty to give the Maverick some good giddy-up off the line. And in perfect conditions, that setup can even return up to 42 miles per gallon in the city and 37 combined, according to Ford.

Beyond that, the Maverick’s steering is lightweight and easygoing, the suspension is soft, and the cabin is quiet. All in all, the Ford Maverick is one of the most satisfying trucks to drive daily… that’s assuming you can overlook some of the hard interior pieces.

Yes, complaining about hard plastics in a $20,000 truck is nitpicking – and really, the Maverick is so good overall that it’s really hard to find faults. But on the XLT trim – the mid-range option that starts at just over $22,000 – some nicer materials would have been, well, nice.

The top-end Lariat model makes do with leatherette seats and softer textures on the dash, but on the XLT I drove (and pictured here), nearly everything is hard to the touch. Bump your elbow on the door panel armrest or bash your knee on the passenger-side console and it’s bound to leave a bruise. To Ford’s credit, and as Brandon mentioned, designers did a great job of adding unique textures, surfacing, and colors to those hard materials, which does make it all a bit easier to swallow, especially at this price point.

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