Ford betting big on its ability to change Americans’ driving habits with the 2022 Maverick 2022 compact pickup Tuesday. Attractively priced, with a 40-mpg hybrid starting at $19,995 and going on sale this fall, the Maverick is intended to get a whole new class of customers into pickups, marketing boss Trevor Scott told me in an interview.
We fully expect to put the Maverick 2022 on the map with customers who haven’t previously considered pickups,” Scott said. “We expect a large number of first-time pickup buyers” who previously drove small sedans and SUVs, Scott said. “Our target customers have had to compromise fuel efficiency versus cargo or passenger space.”
2022 Maverick highlights
The four-door, five-passenger cabin, with plenty of storage
191-horsepower hybrid base model rated 40-mpg in EPA city driving tests
Optional 250-hp model
Front- or all-wheel drive
54.4-inch long bed
Standard automatic high beams
Standard automatic emergency front braking
2,000- or 4,000-pound towing capacity, depending on FWD or AWD drivetrain
What could go wrong?
Despite the Maverick’s appealing price and features, skepticism is merited, if not mandatory. Without getting too deep in the engineering weeds, previous small pickups built on car-type chassis as the Maverick 2022 uses have consistently flopped in the U.S. Pickups are fabulously popular and profitable here, but buyers spurned little trucks that strayed from the body-on-frame construction of Ford’s Ranger midsize and F-series full-size pickups.
The history of failure include the Subaru Brat in the 1970s, Rabbit pickup in the ’80s and Subaru’s second bite of the apple with the Baja in the 2000s. Even the Honda Ridgeline, bigger and better equipped than that trio and backed by Honda’s enviable reputation, has sold slowly here, with just 32,168 sales in 2020 and 33,334 in pre-pandemic 2019.
Ford expects to sell considerably more Mavericks 2022 than that. The compact pickup is one of the “white space” vehicles the automaker counts on to offset sales lost when it dropped the Fiesta, Focus,and Fusion.
“Who better than Ford, with our credibility and heritage building pickups” to convince new customers to try a truck, Scott asked.
Standard safety and assist features include:
- Auto high beams
- Automatic headlights
- Pedestrian detection and braking
- Front collision alert and braking
Optional safety and assist features include:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Evasive steering assist
- Lane centering
- Reverse sensing
- Blind spot cross-traffic alert
- Lane departure alert and assist
- Hill descent control
Developed fast, with an eye on buyers’ budgets
Ford engineers took nearly two years out of the company’s usual timeline developing the Maverick, keeping an eye on costs the whole time.
The interior is thrifty, with what Ford calls “speckled” plastic surfaces rather than cushioned materials on the dash and door.
The seats are cloth or vinyl — no option for leather — and the 8-inch touch screen is small by the standards of new vehicles. Ford created new shorter inner door handles to make more room for bottles, laptops, and the like in storage pockets. It remains to be seen whether those decisions led to less comfortable grips to pull the door closed or surfaces to rest your arm.
Even Ford’s aging Sync3 infotainment system is an option, though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
Ford is betting Maverick owners won’t notice or care. The Maverick isn’t intended to compete with niceties like 10-inch touch screens and padded surfaces in bigger pickups. It’s Ford’s entry-level model, designed to take on vehicles like the Hyundai Venue, Nissan Kicks — no all-wheel-drive there — and small cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic with less room and worse visibility.
However, the prices will be announced near the time when it will be open for sale.