New Maverick tries to catch up to year-old demand

John Gilbert

Both consumers and sales folks were frustrated during the first year of trying to get the Ford Maverick out into the hands of he public. If you were a buyer, and fell in love with the compact size of the Maverick and its agility and fuel economy, you might have simply said, “Where do I sign?”

But if you were a sales person at a Ford dealership, your task was to keep those customers interested while also telling them that you would put their name on a list but it may be a couple months until the vehicle shows up. Then it was six months, and then, if you tried to buy a 2022 Maverick, you were frequently told that you would be getting a 2023, because  total production of all 2022 models was called for.

That is impressive, for a manufacturer to have that sort of demand, but it can be exasperating for a car salesman to know that his customer may get impatient and go look for something else. In the world of pickup trucks, that scan happen readily with the full-size Ford, Ram, Chevrolet, GMC or Tundra or Ridgeline, and you can also find alternatives to the midsize pickups of your choice. But Ford pulled off a coup when it arbitrarily decided to add a compact pickup to its domain and called it the Maverick. If it wasn’t popular, it wouldn’t be an issue.

But it has been wildly popular, and if you want one, you really can’t find an alternative. In reality, it is like a downsized full-sized pickup, as far as dimensions go. The difference is that everything is a bit smaller, but full-sized trucks have gotten so big that you can downsize quite a bit and still build a roomy interior.

Plus, you can build it with a variety of powerplants, up to and including a small turbo-four with a hybrid complement, some with all-wheel drive on one hand, and a performance-oriented Tremor version on the other. Most Mavericks will be simply front-wheel-drive utility vehicles, flexible enough to handle most chores.

The test vehicle, however, was the high-mileage specialty version — 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with hybrid electric motor combined to provide some surprisingly good fuel economy numbers. We averaged 24 miles per gallon, mostly in city driving and in snow, with frequent warming-up called for. I did average 26.5 on some driving excursions, and we hit nearly 40 mpg when conditions were perfect.

Pickup buyers fall into two categories — those who need a pickup for heavy-duty work, and those who really don’t need a pickup but just want one. Most buyers choose a pickup because  they want a pickup, even though they might only have occasional need for its versatility.

For those buyers, a compact pickup like the Maverick is the ideal solution. It will haul what you need to haul, carry a family of four in comfort with its crew-cab design, and adds the built-in benefit of front-wheel drive as standard to provide good foul weather and winter traction in almost every circumstance.

Of course, in this winter that never ends on the North Shore of Lake Superior, we can give that front-wheel drive system a thorough test. With a record amount of snow already fallen and more coming…and coming…and coming, I found the drive mode setting to bolster traction in snow to be very helpful.

My traditional theory, however, is that anybody who buys — or sells — a pickup truck in Duluth should demand 4-wheel drive. It just makes sense. The Maverick hybrid with all-wheel drive is ideal, and it offers improved fuel economy.

But if you want a Maverick and all you can find is FWD, you can get through snowstorms and make it home. The console-mounted shifter is a rotating one, making it convenient and easy to shift into drive, and it also leaves a nice, clean console.

One of the other switches on there is the tiny little button for driving mode, but you’ll want to experiment with it quite a bit rather than  read or identify the tiny little checkered flag or other minuscule identifying icons on it. To me, a large snowflake would do the job, and you could learn the alternatives when you switch it.

The lightness of the Maverick could be a stability issue, except that front-wheel drive offsets that, and turns the lightness into an asset for maneuverability and agility, let alone the ease of fitting into congested parking areas. T

he test vehicle came in Lariat upgrade trim, painted Cactus Gray with black trim on the grille and elsewhere. The list price was nearly $40,000, which brings up another virtue of the basic Maverick. If you were to choose the base vehicle with FWD and kept the lid on options, you can actually find a Maverick for $25,000. That is, if you can FIND a Maverick.