Test drive: 2022 Ford Maverick right sizes the pickup truck

To this day I still remember riding in the back of my buddy’s dad’s red 1980’s Ford Ranger with the red interior. Even as a kid those back seats were small with little to no leg room.

Compact pickup trucks used to dot America’s roadways, but they mostly disappeared from showrooms over the last few decades.

With the arrival of the 2022 Ford Maverick the Blue Oval’s plugged the hole in the booming pickup truck market. Spoiler alert: It’s great, and that’s why it was named The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2022 along with being named the Best Pickup Truck to Buy 2022.

With a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10, the 2022 Ford Maverick bests the competition. It offers an antidote to larger, and more unnecessary pickup trucks thanks to value-packed pricing, creative packaging, terrific usability, and a fuel-efficient powertrain. But some features can’t be had as standalone options, kids might be frustrated with certain elements, and choices must be made regarding fuel efficiency or all-wheel drive.

Here’s what I learned after spending a week with the 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD.

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

Hit: It’s compact

Everyone was excited for the Ford Ranger to return to the U.S. in 2019, but it’s nothing like my friend’s dad’s truck. The Maverick is. At 199.7 inches long, it’s one of the few pickup trucks that actually fit in my standard-length garage built, with room to spare. Despite its small stature it is still useful with a 54.4-inch bed that was able to hold my downhill skis and boots (diagonally). And reaching over the low bed sides is a cinch, unlike a Ranger, F-150, or even the Hyundai Santa Cruz.

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

Miss: Seatbelt frustrations for some

Kids adore being independent and despise being helped. But the Maverick proved to be frustrating for my 6- and 8-year olds when it came time to buckle up. The seat belt clips in the rear are tucked into the seat bottoms, making it difficult for my mini mes to click the seat belt.

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

Hit: Creative packaging FTW

The Maverick is nearly a foot shorter than the Ranger and it has a five-inch shorter wheelbase, yet it’s roomier inside. The smaller pickup has 1.5 inches more rear legroom, effectively the same amount of hip and shoulder room, and total passenger volume is up nearly four inches. This comes down to being on a much newer platform and creative packaging. Despite its small stature the interior feels roomier than it is thanks to creative thinking like the scalloped door panels. Like the larger F-150, the rear seat bottom flips up to reveal hidden underseat storage, and the tall roofline provides plenty of
headroom. An adult will be more comfortable in the back of a Maverick cab than in a four-door Ranger.

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

Miss: Speaker placement issues

The Maverick features speakers mounted on the dashboard near the windshield and in the front door panels, which all seems normal. But in the rear, the speakers are in the C-pillars mounted down low near the rear passenger’s head. This setup makes the sound much louder for rear passengers than those in front, leading to issues finding a volume everyone in the Maverick will be comfortable with.

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

Hit: Value-packed and efficient

Priced from $21,490 with EPA fuel economy ratings of 42 mpg city, 33 highway, and 37 combined, the hybrid Maverick’s value and efficiency simply can’t be argued. My Alto Blue Lariat tester with Desert Brown interior cost a reasonable $29,340 and featured niceties such as dual-zone automatic climate control, a 6.5-inch driver information display in the gauge cluster, and a power-sliding rear window. Sure, the interior has hard plastic everywhere, but nice graining and a cool blue and gray color scheme in my tester was pleasing to the eye.

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD

Miss: Missing standalone options and configurations

While the Maverick feels like it packs a value in nearly every form, Ford makes you either part with more money or compromise when configuring. The only way to get heated seats in a Lariat is to opt for the $3,570 Lariat Luxury package, and during my cold week in Minnesota those would’ve been nice. The front-wheel-drive hybrid can’t be had with all-wheel drive. Most problematically, Ford underestimated the demand for the Maverick: It can’t build them fast enough. Ford spokesperson Trevor Scott told The Car Connection the current model mix for 2022 is 40% hybrid and 60% non-hybrid, but the number one thing customers are asking for is a hybrid with all-wheel drive, Scott said.

The 2022 Ford Maverick is the truck America needed. It plugged a hole in the marketplace and America’s spoken by snatching it up. My friend’s dad drives a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 now, but who knows, maybe someday he’ll end up with a Maverick.

2022 Ford Maverick Lariat FWD 4×2

Base price: $21,490, including $1,495 destination
Price as tested: $39,340
Powertrain: 2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid, continuously variable automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 42/33/37 mpg
The hits: Creative packaging, fuel efficient, actually compact, feels like a value
The misses: No all-wheel drive with hybrid powertrain, frustrating rear seat belt clip and speaker placement

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