Ford Motor Co. is entering the burgeoning market for small pickups with a new compact truck called the Maverick.
The 2022 Ford Maverick pickup truck will be the automaker’s lowest-priced vehicle when it goes on sale later this year. The truck starts at $19,995 plus a $1,495 delivery fee.
It becomes the automaker’s entry vehicle because Ford has abandoned the sedan market – including small passenger cars such as the Focus – in the U.S.
“As we looked into our overall portfolio, we knew that there was a need for a vehicle at an affordable price point,” said Trevor Scott, Ford’s marketing manager for the Maverick and Ranger.
Scott said Ford anticipates many of the Maverick customers will be first-time truck buyers coming out of small cars and SUVs.
“So we’re not shy about leaning into the fact that this is a compact truck,” Scott said.
Marketing for the Maverick “will target a younger tipper urban buyer that is not typically in the pickup segment,” he said.
COMPACT PICKUPS RETURN
Automakers sold small compact pickups decades ago but phased them out as consumers gravitated to bigger vehicles with greater cargo and towing capacity.
But now, there’s a return to smaller trucks, including some that share platforms and components with crossovers and SUVs.
Honda’s Ridgeline midsize truck – related to its Pilot crossover and Odyssey minivan – is one example. Hyundai is about to start selling the Santa Cruz, a small crossover-based truck-like vehicle related to its Tucson.
“There is an expectation that some consumers have shifted and want a smaller, more affordable truck to enable a more active lifestyle,” said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with IHS Markit.
FORD DEPENDS ON TRUCKS
Ford’s decision to reenter the small pickup market after a long absence results from its move away from selling sedans and leans into its strengths in trucks and SUVs, Brinley said. Ford sold about 900,000 pickup trucks in the U.S. last year, accounting for 46 percent of its sales.
“The Maverick will be the entry to the Ford lineup and is the affordable vehicle that executives indicated was coming since the Focus was dropped from the U.S.,” she said.
Unlike its bigger Ford siblings, Ranger and F-150, the Maverick is a front-wheel-drive vehicle built with unibody construction rather than the body-on-frame architecture of most other trucks.
Engineering the Maverick, Ford took a careful approach by ensuring that many under-the-skin components are shared with other vehicles while prioritizing modifications where they would most provide truck capability, Brinley said.
Ford’s Escape, Bronco Sport and Maverick share platforms and significant components and systems, are three very different products tackling different markets, she said.
Ford designed the Maverick as a hybrid expected to achieve about 40 mpg in city driving.
The standard model will have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain that delivers 191 horsepower when combined with the electric motor and 155 pound-feet of torque. It uses a continuously variable transmission. Ford said it would have about 500 miles of range.
The standard truck can carry a payload of 1,500 pounds and tow 2,000 pounds, enough for some small watercraft or a pop-up camper trailer.
Ford also plans to sell a model with a more powerful 2-liter turbocharged gas engine delivering 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. It uses an 8-speed automatic transmission. That configuration of the Maverick will tow up to 4,000 pounds as long as it has the optional tow package. Ford said that’s enough to pull the average 21-foot boat.
The Maverick will come standard in front-wheel-drive but have an all-wheel-drive option.
Inside, the truck provides a standard 8-inch center touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility so that drivers can use their own navigation and music apps.
The standard advanced driver assistance system includes forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking and automatic high beam headlamps. Buyers can get more advanced features such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert as options.
The transmission has five drive modes normal, eco, sport, slippery and tow/haul.
The truck bed is 4.5 feet long. That compares to 5 feet for the Ford Ranger and 5.5 feet for the much larger F-150. The Maverick has what Ford is calling a flexbed system that it developed after watching people at home improvement and furniture stores and college kids moving into their dorms.
Owners can use the system to create segmented storage, elevated floors, bike and kayak racks and other features by sliding standard wood beams into slots stamped into the side of the bed.
Ford will sell the Maverick in three trim levels – XL, XLT and Lariat.