Does the world need another pickup truck?
Virtually every manufacturer on the market has a light truck on offer. Sometimes it seems like every other vehicle is a pickup of some sort.
Light truck sales in Canada are as healthy as ever, despite ridiculous gas prices, a looming recession and the high cost of living. So far in 2022, at least 25 per cent of all vehicles sold in Canada are light trucks, with the Ford F-150 leading the pack – just as it has for decades. Ford has at least five pickup truck models in its lineup, with myriad variations and iterations within those models.
That includes the new Maverick, which can be purchased as a normally-aspirated model or a hybrid. I drove the hybrid.
With roughly the same proportions as the original Ranger/Mazda B3000, the Maverick comes with a normally-aspirated, turbocharged 2.0-litre Eco-Boost four-cylinder engine or the hybrid drivetrain. The latter has a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine mated to a permanent magnet electric traction electric motor. The electric motor is a proprietary unit made by Ford. Atkinson engines slightly delay valve opening and closing intervals to maximize combustion. Together they deliver 190 horsepower.
Transmission is continuously variable (CVT), and the hybrid is offered in front-wheel drive only. It’s built in Chihuahua, Mexico. The non-hybrid is built in Spain or Cleveland, Ohio, and comes with front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The Maverick is not a large truck. It comes in a five-passenger four-door configuration only, and the bed, with a 680-kg payload, will accommodate small loads but nothing serious. You can fit a bicycle if you put it in diagonally, but Ford hasn’t designed the Maverick hybrid to be a down-and-dirty workhorse. That said, it has a 907-kg towing capacity.
A few things about the Maverick that I liked:
- Ford’s now familiar rotary dial shift selector works nicely and seems appropriate for this truck.
- Lots of cargo rings in the bed for tying stuff down and a lightweight rear tailgate that may be the smoothest I’ve encountered in a pickup truck.
- Easy-to-understand controls and switchgear and an actual ignition key. No push-button start!
- Low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). This vehicle is very quiet on the highway and feels well assembled.
- Driveability is high. The Maverick is easy to get along with and doesn’t confront you with any weird idiosyncrasies. Mainstream ergonomics all the way.
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On the other hand, this isn’t the smoothest drivetrain I’ve ever come across; the engine feels kind of clunky and the transition from battery to internal combustion power is a little clumsy. Not a deal-breaker by any means, but it’s less refined than other hybrids I’ve driven. This is offset somewhat by the Maverick’s compact dimensions – it’s very manageable around town and far less clumsy than a full-size truck.
Let’s not overlook fuel economy. According to Ford, this hybrid has a combined fuel economy of 6.3 litres/100 km, which no other truck can come close to. Last time I checked, gas was as high as $2.25 a litre in some parts of Canada, so this is definitely worth thinking about.
However, this means the Maverick is already in high demand. Ford says: “Due to high demand, the current model year may no longer be available for retail order. Limited inventory may be available at selected dealers. Contact your dealer for more information.”
In other words, put your order in now and be prepared to wait.
2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid
Base price: $27,750
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder, with electric motor
Transmission: continuously variable
Horsepower: 191 at 5,600 rpm
Torque: 155-foot pounds at 4,000 rpm
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 5.6 city and 7.1 highway, with regular gas
Some alternatives: Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, Jeep Gladiator
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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