One Year With The Ford Maverick: An Almost Perfect Truck

As you may already know, I’ve been driving the Maverick for a while now and I’m head over heels for it. It’s hands down the best all-around ride I’ve ever owned. From outdoor adventures to everyday life, it meets all my needs with ease. Ford really hit it out of the park with this one. But as with anything, especially a first iteration, some areas could use improvement.

[Ed note: Johnathon is back around this weekend with another update on his Ford Maverick. You may remember his first story last week about buying it. That one was on me because I angled it a little more towards ‘look at this flip’ than ‘here’s a random thing that happened to me I didn’t plan.’

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In particular, I added “Here’s Why This Turned Out To Be A Genius Move’ to the headline as a callback to “I Bought A High-Mileage Electric Car With A Bad Battery. Here’s Why That Was Actually A Stroke of Genius.” I think that ended up making the post seem a little more calculated than it was. My bad! Here’s a story we can all get behind. – MH]

Pro 1: The Maverick Is Virtually An SUV With A Small Bed

It’s a compromise sure, but for most daily purposes, for most people, the SUV aspect is a good thing. The Maverick is based on Ford’s C2 platform, which is the platform for the Escape and slightly modified for the Bronco Sport. It’s been further tweaked for the Maverick to accommodate the longer wheelbase and the demands of a truck. In my experience, it comfortably accommodates four people, with better spacing and ergonomics than a Toyota Tacoma TRD. It’s pleasant enough to drive, handling moderately rough roads with ease without ever feeling like it’s trying to beat you up. Oh, and the bed itself has been life-changing.

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On a trip to Wisconsin last year for the Bristol Renaissance Fair, a store in downtown Kenosha was holding a going-out-of-business sale. My significant other spotted two bookshelves she thought would be perfect for her classroom. All I had to do was drop the gate and strap down the shelves, and we were good to go. The memes I’ve previously seen with Miata owners and having infinite space for storage apply here, but it’s actually practical. That’s something I never would have considered doing before the Maverick.

Con 1: A Cheap Ride That Feels Cheap

It’s budget-friendly, which is great for consumers, but Ford aggressively cut corners. While the Ford-branded screws add a rugged touch, much of the interior is hard plastic, especially the center dash insert. I have remarked to many an Autopian that this looks like it’s straight out of a Fisher-Price playhouse. Just because a car is affordable doesn’t mean the interior has to feel cheap.

Pxl 20210924 191557234.mpA floor model Maverick XLT at the 2021 Motor Bella.

GM has managed to strike the right balance with models like the refreshed Chevrolet Trax and the Buick Envista. My 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT was also an economy car, but the interior looked nice at a glance, with soft-touch areas and a dash that resembled pleather. Plus, it didn’t easily scratch.

2018 Elantra GtThis is the Sport trim with red accents, different pedals, and nicer seats, but otherwise the same as the base model.
Photo: Hyundai

By comparison, the plastic in the Maverick scratches by just looking at it, and the dash aggressively squeaks in the cold. Oh and don’t get me started on the rotary dial. While it saves Ford money not to have a handlebar shifter, I’d much prefer something like the one in the F-150–which uses the same plug–or just put the damn shifter on the dash or steering column to claw back more space.

Pro 2: The Gas Mileage Is Outstanding

The Ford Maverick is a truck that actually lives up to the promise of hybrid fuel efficiency. I’m looking at you Tacoma and your I-Force technology’s 21 mpg. While it could be more aerodynamic, it performs admirably on country roads. It easily reaches mid-40 mpg or better on 55 mph highways, outside of winter. The hybrid system also helps reduce the usual penalties in stop-and-go traffic and the small 1.1 kWh battery occasionally accommodates electric-only driving, either when gently accelerating or at constant speeds below 60 miles per hour.

Pxl 20240425 195234117Yeah, the plastic is a dust magnet.

It’s a fun game to see how far I can go on electric power alone on empty backroads. For the price point, there’s nothing else on the market with this level of utility that offers such efficiency.

Con 2: It’s Not A Capital ‘T’ Truck

While this SUV-truck hybrid is a major plus, there are times when being in between is limiting. The max towing capacity for the hybrid model is 2,000 lbs. That’s great for small U-Hauls and tiny campers, but I’ve had to make additional trips during moves due to those restrictions. It’s also a limiting factor for the toys one could haul with it. In a perfect world, I’d love a 16-foot Scamp fiberglass trailer with a bathroom. Stories of awful leaks have made me quite apprehensive about campers built with traditional materials, so fiberglass or thermoplastic sounds incredibly appealing. However, owners of 16ft Scamps report a dry weight of 2,400-2,600 lbs.  depending on options.  Toyota has already demonstrated with the RAV4 Prime that plug-in versions can handle more, I’d love for Ford to answer the bell with a PHEV Maverick.

Rav4 Towing UnmarkedPhoto: Toyota

Pro 3: It’s Handsome As Hell

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Ford nailed the design. Unlike the Hyundai Santa Cruz, the Maverick’s design has been universally praised. It’s unmistakably an American truck. I’ve been stopped multiple times by people who were curious about it. Its slightly aggressive lines convey that it’s a trucklet that can be treated like a truck, to an extent. Plus, the bed is cleverly designed with cutouts for dividers, and an adjustable tailgate that can help panels sit flat on the wheel wells,  making it convenient for everything from runs to the hardware store to camping.

Con 4: The Infotainment System Is Lacking

The Maverick’s budget-friendly nature extends to its infotainment system. Lariat models use Sync 3 but the XL and XLT trims use “Connected Touch Radio”,  which is slow and prone to freezing. Hard resets have become second nature to me, but it’s not ideal, especially in the middle of a road trip when you need maps for upcoming turns.

2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid Xlt“You’re music’s bad and you should feel bad!” is what it feels like Ford is trying to tell me every time the Connected Touch Radio freezes up.  Photo: Ford

The system also struggles to decide whether to play the radio, a basic feature that works seamlessly in other cars I’ve driven. And don’t even get me started on the backup camera. It’s laggy and has low resolution, which is a major safety concern. At times it feels like it was added on to meet government mandates rather than being a useful feature.

Pro 4: The Perfect Footprint

Pxl 20240405 230303928A third-gen Ford Ranger and a 2023 Ford Maverick. Like two brothers.

The Maverick is almost identical in length to the third-gen Ranger (199.7″ vs. 203.6″)  but it’s capabilities as a daily driver are more well-rounded. One of the best parts about driving this around compared to a modern Ranger or F-150, I’m not scared trying to navigate tight neighborhoods in major cities like Detroit and Chicago. Parking is also a breeze.

And There’s So Much More

There are a lot of random, small charming features about the Maverick. I’ll quickly list those below just to reinforce how much the good heavily outweighs any annoyances. Those include:

The XLT’s charming navy blue and orange color combination is featured throughout the interior and on the seats. Perfect for Tigers country.
Cupholders. Cupholders everywhere. There are six usable spots for water bottles accessible from the front seats alone – two per door and the cupholders in the armrest. Add in the backseat’s flip-down armrest, the rear doors’ cupholders, and a FITs cupholder, and you’re going to stay well hydrated.
The FITs system opens up nifty little add-ons with 3D printing. In addition to the cupholder, I’ve seen hooks for grocery bags, a mini garbage bin, and cable organizers. But with Ford openly sharing the schematics from the start, the only limit is your imagination.
There’s storage under the backseat. The entire space is fully usable on the EcoBoost models. There’s slightly less on the hybrid version with the 12v battery taking up part. I use this compartment to store a socket wrench set, duct tape, a battery jump pack, and a mini 12v tire inflator.
There’s a frickin bottle opener on both sides of the tailgate. Completely unnecessary but it’s delightful to have while tailgating.

2022 Ford Maverick Flexbed™Photo: Ford

While the screen is small the cubby is cute. It fits the truck’s overall ethos of smartly utilizing space.

Pxl 20230604 221054186.portraitMy Grogu cubby-buddy.


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