Who knew the secret to making a hybrid vehicle cool is to add a pickup truck bed? Certainly not us. When Ford first revealed that the base maverick is a front-drive hybrid, we treated the idea with some skepticism. Now though, in the middle rise in gasoline prices and soar pricesCould the Maverick Hybrid be the right vehicle at the right time?
The Maverick’s $21,490 base price is low enough to qualify it as one of the lowest-priced vehicles on sale today. Even our well-equipped mid-range XLT model, which came with an optional sunroof, spray-on bedliner, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, all-weather floor mats and paint Cyber Orange, rang in at a perfectly reasonable price of $26,645. That’s about $20,000 less than the average transaction price of a new carwhich soared to over $47,000 in December 2021.
Adjust your performance expectations
Ford’s hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.5-liter inline-four complemented by two electric motors. Net power is 191 horsepower, and the throttle floor sets off a coarse growl, but the naturally aspirated four gets quiet and subdued when cruising. The powertrain switches from gas to electric mode seamlessly, with only the low hum of the gas engine guiding you when you’re not using electric power alone.
But we do not hide the power deficit of the hybrid on the road: it is much more pokier than the 2.0-liter turbocharged non-hybrid we’ve tested. This all-wheel-drive truck hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, while the hybrid, which is only available with front-wheel drive and a power-split CVT, took 7.7 seconds. The electric boost gives the Maverick a playful low-speed feel, but it quickly falters during freeway passing maneuvers.
Ride quality over Michigan’s springtime potholes ranged from choppy to downright punishing at times. And although the Maverick never bottomed out, the impacts were impossible to ignore from inside the cabin. On smoother, twistier roads, the Maverick’s handling was stable and confident, but not quite sporty. We expected the same from this platform shared with Escape and Bronco Sports SUVs, both of which served similar driving behaviors.
While the Maverick performs respectably, its real value lies in its fuel efficiency. The EPA estimates the hybrid powertrain to be good for 42 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, big gains over the 23/30 city/highway figures earned by the front-drive non-hybrid variant. In our 75 mph highway fuel economy test, we recorded 30 mpg for the hybrid, just 1 mpg more than the non-hybrid Maverick. However, during daily driving, where the hybrid system can take advantage of regenerative braking and rely more on the electric side of the powertrain, we recorded 32 mpg. Comparing our observed fuel economy opens the door to many caveats, but if you compare that 32 mpg to the most efficient Ranger we tested, an XL 4×2 model which averaged 19 mpg in 2019, there’s some telling arithmetic. If you get 12,000 miles a year and gas costs $4 a gallon, the Maverick hybrid will save you over $1,000 a year compared to the Ranger. If gas reaches $5, you save over $1,250.
Functional and orderly interior
Ford has taken great pains to create a thoughtful cabin, dotting the Maverick’s interior with storage bins and covering it with easy-to-clean plastics that have a surprising personality. Textured plastic trim on the door panels and dash features a marbled color that contrasts nicely with the dark navy used elsewhere; orange accents provide a pop of color inside the center console storage bins and on the back of the door handles. Painted door frames are also visible inside, so our test truck brought a touch of Cyber Orange to the cabin as well.
The front seats, which were upholstered in two-tone gray cloth in our XLT tester, were comfortable, and the upright driving position and great outward visibility are appreciated. The forward view is blocked by just enough of the Maverick’s hood to make you think you’re driving a much larger pickup truck. In other words, until you stop next to a F-150 in traffic.
Rear passengers will find plenty of room for short journeys, although the upright seat back and lack of legroom will take a toll on longer journeys. With the rear seat folded down, the Maverick can accommodate a bicycle inside its cabin. The usefulness of the bed is unquestionable, even given its chunky 4.5-foot length. Grocery shopping means using the back seat as a trunk, which traditional car or SUV buyers might find odd. For those unaccustomed to this pickup-specific lifestyle challenge, we suggest a bed cover and maybe a cargo organizer.
While full-size pickup drivers may scoff at the Maverick Hybrid’s paltry 2,000-pound towing capacity and 1,500-pound payload capacity, those capabilities are still hugely unusual compared to nearly everything else in this lineup. of price. The only direct competitor is the $25,385 Hyundai Santa Cruz SE, which has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds and can haul 1,753 pounds of payload. But even the Hyundai, which gets a combined 23 mpg EPA rating, can’t touch the Maverick hybrid’s efficiency.
Whatever the Maverick concedes to body-on-frame trucks in size, power and toughness, it makes up for it with stellar fuel economy, composed on-road manners and a great price. If your use case involves regularly towing large trailers or hauling heavy cargo, the Maverick Hybrid will not replace a half-ton truck (or even a Tacoma-sized truck). But for the large cohort of drivers for whom pickups are little more than a signal of their outdoor lifestyle, the Maverick hybrid gets the message across very well.
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