June 08, 2023

Ford Maverick Hybrid finds its niche in small pickup segment

Fuel efficiency, maneuverability just a few selling points

2022 Ford Maverick 2L-EcoBoost AWD Lariat.

There are plenty of full-size pickup wannabes out there, that goes for potential owners, as well as vehicles that may aspire to be a “big boy” pickup – but just don’t elevate to the size required to join the club.

And I’m here to tell you it’s all okay – full-size pickups are not for everyone, in fact, they are not even for many of the folks who own them and never get around to utilizing the power or the utility offered.

This is the beauty of the small pickup segment. Sure, the mid-size pickups really do serve a purpose for those who want that pickup style, but maybe have just a few limitations from their pocketbook to the size of their garage. The 2023 Ford Maverick Hybrid I recently tested firmly establishes the emergence of this segment as mainstream and very intriguing.

On the outside, the Maverick looks like a smaller version of a pickup (make that much smaller). The short bed still has plenty of room and the ground clearance is more like Ford cousins Escape and Bronco Sport, which it shares a lot of its cabin tech with. My tester had optional 18-inch Mach-faced ebony aluminum wheels which added a lot of refinement to the look.

That 4.5-foot bed makes it look a lot less intimidating and that equates to easier maneuverability around town. My tester had an intriguing flat Cactus Gray hue, which also made the Maverick feel like something distinct. Maybe the best part of the exterior was the front fascia with the large F-150-like grille and blocky headlight assembly.

With a starting price of just over $20,000, the base XL Maverick will get a lot of attention, as will the mid-tier XLT. My top-end Lariat Hybrid with front-wheel drive started at $27,995 and had a slew of add-ons including the Lariat Luxury Package ($2,610), the Black Appearance Package ($1,645), Ford’s co-pilot ($650) and spray-in bedliner ($495) that brought the final cost to $35,005.


The first impression when riding in the Maverick is that it does not stand above the traffic on the road, rather chugging along with the rest of the average-sized vehicles. I found the visibility to be very good, with maneuverability that a full-size F-150 could only dream of.

As far as comfort goes, this is a much smaller space that still delivers seating that is roomy in the front row and quite tight in the rear row. Of course, the upside is that the Maverick is not trying to seat you on your living room couch, but provides comfort balanced with fair cost.

My high-end Lariat had the best and most comfortable seating options offered in the Maverick. All Mavericks feature unique textures and plastic surfaces, though my Lariat featured heated faux-leather seats, dual-zone climate control, and a wireless charging pad.

The small-sized bed still offers a wide variety of utility options. Mavericks can carry 1,500 pounds and tow 2,000. Ford says that’s enough towing capacity for a couple of jet skis or a small camper. Buyers can pay extra for double the towing with the optional turbocharged engine.

I’d highly recommend the spray-in bedliner to protect the bed and items stored in it. Maverick offers upgrades like a cubby, power outlet, and in-bed lighting that can boost functionality.

Hybrid Power

The hybrid pairing of a gas engine, an electric motor, and the continuously variable transmission (CVT) performs like a well-engineered combo. My tester featured the 2.5-liter hybrid, though there is a 2.0-liter turbo EcoBoost engine. The Maverick’s hybrid powerplant is designed for stingy power output. The front-drive variant is good for 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque.

I found Maverick’s performance to be adequate. The CVT strains a little when you jump on the pedal, but in most cases, there’s enough to pass and jump into traffic on the highway.

While there’s no dedicated EV drive mode, this truck’s electric elements work well with the 2.5-liter gas engine. My 2.5-L hybrid tester managed the expected City: 42 City MPG; 33 Highway MPG; and Combined: 37 MPG.

According to Ford, more than 80% of Maverick buyers are first-time truck owners. Given my experience during my week-long test, I believe it is not only a sign of the untapped potential market, but we all know younger generations actively seek out different vehicles than their parent drove. Maverick is a success for all it is and will likely be.

• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years’ experience driving, testing, and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations, and vehicles.