The 2022 Ford Maverick is heading to dealerships, and if you thought the Honda Ridgeline was a PINO (pickup in name only), it’s doubtless you’ll have opinions about whether the new Maverick is trucky enough. That’s the new Blue Oval baby trucklet based on the front-wheel-drive Ford C2 platform (which also underpins the Escape, Bronco Sport and European-market Focus hatchback), powered by a gas-electric hybrid or turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and sized one tick smaller than Ford’s own mid-size Ranger.
But hear me out: I’ve driven the new Maverick — and not just some loaded version by myself on a flat stretch of highway, but all trims of the new truck, laden and unladen, towing trailers approaching its max towing capacity, up and down some decent grades and at highway speeds. And unlike its main competitor, the new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, whose automaker has gone to great efforts to try and convince us that it is not a pickup, I can unequivocally state that the Maverick definitely is. Ford’s new baby will most definitely pickup truck — if you want it to.
Yes, the bones of the new Maverick are more crossover than traditional truck. It’s a unibody vehicle like a Ridgeline, not a traditional body-on-frame truck. The bed is integrated into the body structure and isn’t removable, so there won’t be any camper conversions or delivery van Mavericks rolling around your town — or not without an upfitter taking a reciprocating saw to the truck. And yes, it’s front-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive. But neither of these attributes matter on the Maverick, as Ford has applied its pickup truck duty cycle durability testing to the Maverick instead of the less stringent SUV testing regimen. So the tests that make the Ranger and F-Series so tough have been applied to the Maverick, as well. That should give you a little idea of how well the Maverick works as a pickup.
Tows Like Its Bigger Brothers
The standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas-electric hybrid making 191 horsepower and 155 pounds-feet of torque, driving only the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. The optional engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder making a more robust 250 hp and 277 pounds-feet of torque, sending power to either the front or all four wheels via a traditional eight-speed automatic. With the hybrid, you get a 2,000-pound max towing capacity, but opt for the 4K Tow Package only available with the EcoBoost engine and AWD and that rating is upped to 4,000 pounds. That max tow package brings with it a larger radiator, a transmission oil cooler, a seven-pin wiring harness, a different final drive ratio and an integrated electronic trailer brake controller.
That last one is a big deal, and indicates how serious Ford is about the Maverick being a proper pickup — you can’t even get a factory-installed integrated trailer brake controller on the Jeep Gladiator, Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma or Santa Cruz.