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2022 Ford Maverick: Compact truck sets standard and is full of pleasant surprises

With the major segments of the market covered, Ford has now turned their sights to conquering new market segments, with the introduction of the 2022 Ford Maverick — a compact truck re-imagined.
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The 2022 Ford Maverick is a compact truck aimed at drivers who are active and appreciate the utility and convenience of an open bed. The vehicle’s compact size makes it ideal for driving around town. TIMES COLONIST

The best-selling vehicle in Canada is getting a new sidekick, with the introduction of the 2022 Ford Maverick.

The Ford F-150 full-sized truck is Canada’s best-seller, accounting for around half of the brand’s sales.

Four years ago Ford made the decision to kill off all their four-door cars, which they did, one after another, from the full-size Crown Victoria down to the sub-compact Fiesta.

In their place Ford now offers consumers a choice of eight SUVs or crossovers today.

With the major segments of the market covered, Ford has now turned their sights to conquering new market segments, with the introduction of the 2022 Ford Maverick — a compact truck re-imagined.

The Maverick is aimed at a segment of the populace that is active and appreciates the utility and convenience of an open bed. The segment is skewed younger and more urban, making the compact size (as compared with a full-size truck) an attractive solution.

There is no two-door model. Mavericks are only available in a crew-cab configuration with four doors, seating for five and a 1,382 mm (4-foot-6) box.

To save development costs the Maverick rides on a unibody platform that underpins the Escape and Bronco Sport. With an overall length of 5,073 millimetres the Maverick is longer than both of its stablemates.

With the discontinuation of the Ecosport, the Maverick will become the least-expensive vehicle in the Ford line-up, with a price of $27,750 (before freight and taxes) for the base XL model.

The first pleasant surprise is to find that the base trim includes a hybrid powertrain. In the auto industry, the fuel-saving technology is usually an option and reserved only for the top trim. To have it included in the base vehicle is unprecedented. Hats off to Ford!

The standard powertrain consists of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder producing 162 horsepower and 155 pounds-feet of torque (on a diet of regular fuel) driving the front wheels in the XL model. With an electric motor assisting, the Maverick is rated at 191 hp combined. The engine is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. The electric motor is powered by a 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery.

The truck is rated at 5.6 litres per 100 km in the city, 7.1 on the highway and 6.3 combined. By comparison the Hyundai Santa Cruz, a similar compact four-door truck, is 12.1 city, 8.6 highway and 10.6 combined.

As equipped, the truck has a 1,500 lb. maximum payload and 2,000 lb. towing capacity.

Buyers wishing more power can opt for a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that produces 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque (with premium fuel). This powertrian is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. Towing capacity increases to 4,000 lbs.

Along with quicker acceleration, buyers will also get superior traction, with all-wheel-drive capability. There is no hybrid AWD option at this time.

Although the cargo bed is a mere four and a half feet long, Ford has invested considerable effort into including innovative cargo management strategies make it more versatile. For example, the top of the rear wheel wells were squared off so that sheets of standard 4x8 building material can be loaded flat in the bed. An alternate fastening position for the cables that hold up the tailgate results in the sheets of material being supported when hanging off the back of the truck. It’s actually quite ingenious.

Ford boasts that the Maverick can carry 18 sheets of 4x8-foot three-quarter-inch plywood.

For example, slots in the truck bed allow owners to turn a piece of 2x6 lumber into a fastening position for low-cost a bicycle holder (with the front wheel removed).

The truck bed is pre-wired for two 12-volt power outlets, with a 110-volt also available if you are using power tools, air pump or even a refrigerated cooler (optional, of course). There are six tie-downs.

The Maverick is available in three trims: XL, XLT and Lariat. The base truck is a honest-to-goodness work truck with acres of hard plastic and no frills. But it is also the most fuel-efficient of the lot. The XLT will probably hit the sweet spot for most consumers, with a decent package of amenities and options. The Lariat trim package reinforces how luxurious you can make a truck these days.

The base engine is surprisingly perky. I suspect that it because Ford uses the electric motor to assist the internal combustion engine, giving it a combined 191 hp.

If you want maximum traction, or you plan to tow, you need to add $1,600 for the more powerful turbo 2.0-litre. To get up to a 4,000-lb. towing you need to add the 4k Tow Package on your option sheet.

The package includes a transmission oil cooler, higher-capacity radiator, trailer brake controller, among others. Just be aware that the increased payload capacity comes at a cost — the stiffer suspension gives you a rougher ride.

I suspect that if you were carrying or pulling close to the vehicle’s limit, it will smooth out considerably.

Upgrading the engine also gives you all-wheel-drive.

If you plan to do any off-roading, you can get the FX4 package, which includes skid plates, hill-descent control and all-terrain tires, among others.

Ford showcased the vehicles on Vancouver Island recently. They brought along a complete cross-section of models and trims for journalists to drive and spend time around.

Although the base XL was a bit too spartan for my tastes, there was a certain honesty about the truck, with steel wheels and not much else. The frugal side of me enjoyed watching the needle on the gas gauge hardly move after hours behind the wheel. In the city the little truck fit right in, squeezing into small parking spots and weaving through traffic. Personally, I would have liked to see the hybrid engine available with AWD, but that’s just me.

Although it has four doors and seating for five, the back seats can be tight if the driver pushes close to six feet. You won’t want to be the passenger when the driver pushes his seat way back. The rear seat back is also fixed, so any long journey may not be as comfy. On the plus side, there is extra hidden storage under the back seats and the backs of the seats can tilt forward to gain access to child seat anchors.

But the most impressive part of the cabin is the sheer number of bins, slots and cubbies scattered around the cabin. You have receptacles for Tetra packs, bottles and Big Gulp cups all within easy distance. You have places for your phone, wallet and whatever else you want to take along with you.

All Mavericks come standard with an eight-inch infotainment system on top of the centre console. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included even in the base model. Options include an upgraded B&O audio system, satellite radio and wireless telephone charging.

Standard safety features include pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking.

Ford has hit the nail on the head with the Maverick, if sales to date is any indication. After launching in late 2021, Ford stopped taking customer orders in January. The company said it was so overwhelmed that it wanted to make sure it could build existing sold orders for customers. It does not affect dealer orders and there are vehicles in lots.

Ford’s success has not gone unnoticed. Rival Toyota is rumoured to be considering a similar-sized truck — but that is likely to take years to come to market.

In the meantime, the Maverick will remain the standard for others to be measured by in the compact truck segment.

parrais@timescolonist.com

THE SPEC SHEET: 2022 Ford Maverick XL

Type: Compact truck. Four-door crew cab. Front engine, front-wheel drive (all-wheel-drive available)

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 162 horsepower and 155 pounds-feet of torque (With an electric motor assisting, 191 hp combined). The electric motor is powered by a 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery.

Optional: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque (with premium fuel).

Transmission: CVT (FWD)/ Optional 8-speed automatic (AWD)

Payload: 1,500 lb. maximum

Towing (kg): 907 (2,000 lb./ 4,000-lb optional)

Dimensions (mm): Length, 5,073; width, 1,844; height, 1,745; wheelbase, 3,076

Curb weight (kg): 1,666

Price (base/as tested): $27,750/ $29,945 (includes $2,095 freight and PDI and $100 AC tax)

Options: $0

Tires: 225/65 R17 on steel wheels

Fuel type: Regular

Fuel economy (L/100km): 5.6 in the city, 7.1 on the highway and 6.3 combined.

Warranty: Three years/60,000 km new car, five years/100,000 km powertrain and roadside assistance