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Small trucks have been one of those forbidden-fruit things that automotive enthusiasts love to crow about. They throw terms like “model bloat” claiming that the Ranger and Tacoma have grown to the full-size truck sizes of yesteryear, leaving a real hole in the market for a traditional “small” truck offering. Well, you really want a pickup truck with a high fuel economy claim and a low overall length measurement, the 2022 Ford Maverick might actually be a prayer answered. First drive verdicts are in and initial impressions skew positively — here’s a rundown of a whole bunch of perspectives from around the internet.

Car Bibles’ Review Rundowns compile takeaways from a range of professional reviewers whenever an important new car comes out, so you can see a multitude of contextualized perspectives on the same vehicle in one place.

Here’s the Scoop

The Ford Maverick is a front-wheel-drive, car-based unibody trucklet aimed at light duty, occasional-use truck owners, and maybe even the sedan or crossover shopper, too. The base price is low, and Ford claims an unheard-of (for a truck) 40 mpg city fuel economy for the hybrid model. Underneath, the Maverick uses the same “C2” platform as the Ford Escape, Bronco Sport, and the Ford Focus that the rest of the world gets.

On The Powertrain

The Maverick gets two very different powertrains. The base, most fuel-efficient powertrain is a Hybrid. Ford uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, mated to an eCVT, not unlike what you’d find in a Toyota Prius or Honda Insight. The Hybrid is front-drive only. For those more interested in towing, Ford also offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, mated to an eight-speed automatic. This powertrain can be had in either FWD or AWD trim.

About the Hybrid

Caleb Jacobs for The Drive: “Still, though, with 191 combined horsepower from the internal combustion engine and electric motor, its punch is on-par with the workload it promises to handle without a worry. Torque is modest at 155 pound-feet, but I never felt like it needed more, even while climbing Tennessee’s famous hills with an entire pallet of mulch in the bed.”

Victoria Scott for Motor 1: “The base model drivetrain is extremely compelling, as well. Because the hybrid pairs four-wheel-disc brakes with fairly strong electric motor regeneration, braking can be a bit difficult to engage smoothly. Still, I adapted to it quickly and the efficiency gains of the hybrid are more than worth the learning curve.”

Jason Torchinsky for Jalopnik: “I thought it felt plenty peppy and had no issues getting to highway speeds or passing or anything, really.”

Ryan ZumMallen for Edmunds: “This hybrid powertrain delivers pleasing muscle for hustling around town, but we noticed some refinement issues during our initial drive. The handoff from electric to gas-engine power isn’t always smooth, and the CVT can feel lurchy and overworked. Also, the brake pedal lacks feel and gets grabby at low speeds, so it can be hard to stop smoothly and accurately. Of course, the upside is exemplary fuel economy — so the choice is yours.”

About the 2.0-Liter Turbo

Dave Vanderwerp for Car and Driver: “Morphing a compact SUV into a pickup brings an unusual amalgam of car and truck traits. For example, massive, anti-social levels of wheelspin, even from a rolling start with the front-drive 2.0T.”

Mike Floyd for MotorTrend: “Mash the accelerator pedal to the floor, and it takes a beat or two to get to the powerband, but when it does, the front 17-inch painted steel rims shod with 225/65 tires start chirping, the traction control light flickers, and the engine’s muted chainsaw crescendo reaches toward its coda.”

On Practicality

The Maverick’s pricing, economy, and size have it sitting at the intersection of a lot of potential buyers. Crossover buyers, car buyers, and truck buyers all might find the Maverick compelling, so long as it can withstand the abuses of the daily grind, without too many compromises.

Chris Paukert for CNET Roadshow: “There’s also gobs of space inside. Ford won’t like me spilling the beans, but the Maverick actually has more front-seat head-, leg-, and shoulder-room than the much-larger Ranger. In reality, the cabin is more accommodating in nearly every dimension than Ford’s midsizer.”

Dave Vanderwerp for Car and Driver: “That rear seat is adult habitable, but not compact-SUV spacious—it’s about the same size as the Hyundai Santa Cruz.”

On the Interior, Gizmos, and Gadgets

The Maverick’s interior is a bit more than your typical standard Ford truck interior. Some addon features are completely DIY. Ford has QR codes that link to videos and files on how to 3D print interior accessories or install electrically powered gadgets.

Dave Vanderwerp for Car and Driver: “Ford accessories can plug into a spot at the back of the center console and in the under-seat storage cubbies, but the company is also going to release the math for that attachment so owners can 3D-print their own creations.”

Caleb Jacobs for The Drive: “Then you’ll find slots for 2x4s to craft a makeshift bike rack or whatever comes to your genius MacGyver mind, and Ford plans to release virtual how-tos for anyone wanting to make the most of their Maverick’s aptly named FlexBed.”

Mike Floyd for MotorTrend: “Inside, the cabin of every Maverick holds all manner of water bottles, tablets, phones, change, and more in various cubbies, plus other assorted gear under the rear seats. In other words, the stuff active, on-the-go types use. It’s also been designed with a “plastic with personality” approach that employs varied textures and geometric patterns, and of course, the requisite Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available to display on the 8.0-inch infotainment screen.”

Elizabeth Blackstock for Jalopnik: “You’ll likely be frustrated by the lack of standard features like a tonneau cover, but Ford’s willingness to provide you with DIY 3D printer instructions does ease that a bit, assuming you have access to one of those.”

Ryan ZumMallen for Edmunds: “The interior is pretty cool. Ford constructed the interior with seemingly inexpensive plastic and other materials without making the entire vibe feel cheap. There are robust, tough-looking surfaces that feel like they’ll hold up to abuse over time and interesting textures, colors and design elements that jazz up the cabin.”

About Towing and Hauling

Car-based pickups could be compromised, compared to a traditional truck offering. I mean, I didn’t have all that great of a time, towing with a Honda Ridgeline. Ford offers a tow mode for 2.0-liter turbo models, but the Maverick’s towing capacity is down compared to a 2.0-liter turbo Hyundai Santa Cruz. The hybrid Maverick is only rated to tow 2000 pounds.

Chris Paukert for CNET Roadshow: “There isn’t so much oomph with the 2.0T that you’re at risk of forgetting you’re toting something, but acceleration under load is more than adequate and the model’s conventional eight-speed automatic and integrated trailer-brake controller reinforce driver confidence.”

Dave Vanderwerp for Car and Driver: “We towed 3650 pounds’ worth of ATVs with a 2.0T so equipped and hauled two Jet Skis (2000 pounds) with a hybrid, and in neither case did the truck feel overtaxed. Though front-drive on a boat launch can be a gamble.”

Victoria Scott for Motor 1: “I hauled a roughly 1,600-pound trailer with a riding mower on it around the backcountry of Nashville, and the hybrid system had plenty of grunt in reserve, so as to never make merging or ascending a steep hill feel nerve-wracking. If 2,000 pounds of towing is all you need, the base model is plenty torquey for it.”

Photos

Here’s a small batch of images from Ford’s collection; the company provided captions as well. If there was an angle you were hoping for but didn’t see, you’ll probably find it in this album.

Initial Verdict

The Ford Maverick isn’t perfect, and it’s not for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. Its capabilities and price put it in the “just enough” category for buyers looking for a crossover or car alternative with little to no compromises. If you’ve been considering getting a truck but weren’t sure, the Maverick might just be the vehicle you need to get your feet wet in truckdom.

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