June 20, 2024
Wheels

Maverick hybrid adds clever wrinkle to an impressive truck

Ford excels with affordable, attractive combo in compact pickup segment

The 2024 Ford Maverick compact pickup offers value with plenty of capability.

When the topic of the Ford Maverick comes up, it is hard to think of anything but great experiences. Last year I drove the base Maverick, as well as the off-road Tremor variant, and each time I was more impressed with what Ford has done with this popular class of truck. Now it’s time to dive into the hybrid.

From where I stand, the two most impressive things about the Maverick are its pricing and the authentic truck design it offers. It really does look like a shrunken pickup in proper proportion. With a base price of just $24,995 for the XL w/FWD and EcoBoost engine, there is no real competitor out there for consumers.

The value offered by the Maverick XLT hybrid ($26,315 base) I tested is exceptional. As with anything having “compact” in its description, the trade-off is going to be on space, power and cabin materials. Space and power come in smaller proportions to larger pickup siblings and competitors, but the efficiency in Ford’s design makes up for a lot of it.

Aesthetics

The Ford Maverick is a handsome truck with a traditional pickup profile, 17-inch wheels, and a 4.5-foot short bed with storage system. Everything involving the exterior of this pickup looks proportionate, nothing looks odd or like a shortcut.

The front end lacks the hard-hitting, aggressive impact of the F-150, but it’s half the size. That’s the selling point for most. The front grille still looks bold and the big lenses on the headlights wrap perfectly at the top of the corners.

There are two pre-wired 12-volt outlets for wiring in your own accessories, and an available 120-volt outlet allows you to plug in tools or appliances. Cubbies in the side of the bed allow for further storage, and a false floor in those cubbies can be removed to accommodate something like a two-liter bottle.

Engine options

The Maverick offers two powertrain options: Standard turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost generating 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. In the front-wheel-drive configuration, look for 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined; opt for all-wheel drive and the number changes slightly – 22/29/25 mpg.

My Maverick tester was the hybrid, which is the optional powertrain. Paired with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor pushing 191 horsepower to the front wheels, this hybrid combo was pretty impressive.

Maybe my biggest gripe was the continuously variable transmission that at times felt out of alignment with what the power demand was asking. Some may be disappointed that there is no AWD hybrid option. While it may drop some power and capability, it makes up in fuel economy: 42 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 37 mpg combined.

Cabin

The Maverick’s cabin is thoughtful and loaded with smart elements that make it a solid utility vehicle, while not skimping too much on needs like cupholders, storage nooks and charging ports.

The base XL trim offers cloth upholstery, manual seats, single-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a decent-size 8-inch LCD touchscreen infotainment display and a 4.2-inch instrument cluster screen. Standard features also include keyless entry (but a keyed ignition), cruise control, front USB-A and USB-C port, front and rear 12-volt outlets, auto LED headlights and high beams.

My XLT tester added some additional creature comforts to elevate the compact pickup’s functionality in the back with a trailer hitch receiver, 8-way power driver seat, and a modular drop-in bedliner (essential for any pickup).

The 8-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard for running Ford’s Sync 3 tech interface. There are two USB ports up front (one of which is USB-C format). A six-speaker sound system is standard, but it can be upgraded to an eight-speaker B&O sound system with a subwoofer and HD Radio.

Front and rear seating are surprisingly comfortable. It might be a bit firm for long trips, but head and legroom were very good in both rows and the large sunroof made a huge difference opening up the cabin.

As you might expect, the downside to this level vehicle is the quality of materials used in the cabin. There were extensive fields of hard plastics that surely helped mitigate a rising price, but it does take a little getting used to the starkness of it being everywhere.

Off-road options

Maverick offers two off-road packages, both for the EcoBoost engine with AWD. The $800 FX4 off-road package is available on XLT and Lariat trims and includes all-terrain tires, exposed front tow hooks, performance suspension, hill descent control, off-road drive modes, skid plates, trailer hitch receiver, an upgraded cooling fan and higher-capacity radiator, along with some appearance upgrades.

The $3,495 Tremor package delivers a more advanced 4WD system (includes a twin-clutch rear drive unit and locking rear differential), unique off-road suspension with an increased ride height, Trail Control off-road cruise control, heavy-duty transmission cooler, a full-size spare and distinct exterior upgrades.

With a top-end price of $34,855, the Maverick delivers a lot for a small price tag. Beyond its value, the hefty 4,000-pound towing weight, roomy bed, and thoughtful storage in the cabin all make this one compact pickup worth checking into. My tester had a final price of $32,470 w/destination of $1,545.

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