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There's nothing more American than buying way more vehicle than you need. But car and gas prices are reaching the stratosphere, while ever-embiggening trucks swallow up entire lanes and feel like office buildings on wheels. Given all that, there's no better time for the 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid to come out, packing capability and frugality in equal doses, wrapped up in a shell that feels like anything but a bargain-basement punishment.
Even in its midtier XLT trim, the 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid's design speaks to the point of the truck: simplicity. This no-nonsense aesthetic is devoid of overwrought styling, but it's still a standout with my tester's $495 Cyber Orange Metallic paint job. Gray plastic adorns the bed, grille, door handles, mirror caps and lower part of the body, giving the truck a bit of a two-tone vibe. It's also supremely easy to wash, unlike most modern trucks, which require a step ladder to reach the windshield.
The Maverick's bed measures 4.5 feet long, which is half a foot more than its closest competitor, the Hyundai Santa Cruz. The tailgate can be locked into a halfway-open position, allowing 8-foot-long sheets to fit inside, and the whole bed is positioned low enough that it's dummy easy to reach inside and shuffle things around. Two tie-downs and four D-rings are standard, but threaded holes and a variety of built-in slots make it easy to fab up a bike rack or bed dividers with simple construction materials. Box lighting is available, but if you want to stick with the DIY vibe, there are two standard 12-volt prewired connections, so the sky's the limit for creative types.
Overall, the Maverick can handle 1,500 pounds of payload, which is enough for half a cubic yard of dirt, sand or gravel, or three dozen bags of mulch. Hybrid Mavericks are capable of towing up to 2,000 pounds, which covers a flatbed and a riding mower, or a couple of jet-skis, and should be more than most people need. It's possible to double that tow rating, letting you tow a small trailer or some ATVs, but you have to upgrade to the 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engine ($1,085), all-wheel drive ($3,305) and add the 4K Tow Package ($745) to make that happen.
While the Maverick's exterior may pack more function than form, the interior turns up the dial on both. This is one of the best low-cost interiors I've ever experienced, and it should prove to every other automaker that plastic can, in fact, be fantastic. Everything is hard to the touch, but relying on unique shapes and colors gives the Maverick's interior a heapin' helpin' of character. I especially like the light plastic, which zhushes itself up by including shredded bits of carbon fiber. The XLT trim features standard two-tone cloth seats that feel nice and are quite supportive on longer drives. Visibility is excellent in all directions.
The interior isn't just fun and funky, it's also practical. The door pockets can handle liter-sized water bottles, while the center armrest hides a compartment deep enough for a sizable purse. There are cubbies just about everywhere, including behind and aside the infotainment screen. My favorite part is the storage tray ahead of the shifter, which can hold 3D-printed dividers to keep things in their right place. The rear seats offer ample headroom, and legroom is ample even when a 6-foot-tall passenger is seated behind a 6-foot-tall driver. A pull cord can lift the rear seats to uncover even more storage space. I wish my XLT tester had rear USB ports, but alas, that's locked behind a $2,500 XLT Luxury package. Front-row occupants get one USB-A and one USB-C standard, though, which is nice.
Infotainment tech is really the only thing I feel is lacking in the 2022 Maverick. XL and XLT trims are stuck with a simple AM/FM radio on an 8-inch touchscreen that also includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lariat models are able to upgrade to the Sync 3 infotainment system with better voice recognition, active noise cancellation and satellite radio, but it's part of a $3,750 Lariat Luxury package that adds several other fripperies. No matter the telematics system chosen, the screen size remains the same. Embedded navigation isn't available on any trim, which is a bummer, but your preferred map app is probably better, anyway.
On the safety front, every Maverick comes standard with automatic emergency braking and automatic headlights. A $650 Co-Pilot 360 package adds blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping aid and lane-departure warning. The only way to get anything beefier is to again return to the $3,750 Lariat Luxury package, which adds rear parking sensors, lane centering and full-speed adaptive cruise control.
All-wheel drive is only available with the Maverick's optional 2.0-liter turbo I4, which produces a decent 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. My tester, however, sticks with the base gas-electric hybrid powertrain, which utilizes a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I4 and sends its 191 net hp to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission.
I know what you're thinking -- a tiny hybrid pickup truck with front-wheel drive? -- but hear me out, because the Maverick's base powertrain is utterly impressive. It's silky smooth at all times, with the gas engine barely making a peep over the radio when it kicks in. A power gauge in the cluster helps me keep my footwork light, although I wish it displayed the point where it crosses over to hybrid operation from electricity alone. I have to dig into the throttle to pass 50% power, but it never leaves me wanting for more motive force. The regenerative brakes are also smooth, with no discernible crossover between regen and friction. The EPA rates the Maverick Hybrid at 42 mpg city, 33 highway and 37 combined, figures I am able to trounce with ease. I'm getting 40 mpg combined in this thing, and I'm not even trying. It's a marvel.
Most unladen trucks ride like garbage, with a body jiggling like Jell-O atop a ladder frame. But the Maverick's unibody construction gives it a whole bunch of on-road confidence. It doesn't feel like much more than a midsize sedan. Body roll is kept to a minimum, with a decent amount of isolation from road and tire noise. Some sharp bumps and humps will create a bit of movement, but by and large, the ride is comfortable and composed.
The biggest drawback of the Maverick Hybrid is its complement of options. Hybrids are stuck with front-wheel drive and the 2,000-pound towing maximum, although that combination should still be more than enough for most first-time truck buyers. The $800 FX4 Off-Road Package, which adds beefier tires, front tow hooks, hill descent control, skid plates, a hitch receiver and heavy-duty cooling components, is also limited to EcoBoost models. Hell, even some of the wheel designs on Ford's consumer site are limited to the more expensive powertrain. That's a little silly, especially when hybrids offer more effective future-proofing in the face of uncertain gas prices. Thankfully, none of the creature-comfort upgrades are locked in this manner.
Even though it seems like Ford cut very few (or no) corners with the 2022 Maverick, its price tag feels almost nonsensically low. A base Maverick Hybrid XL will set you back $21,490, including $1,495 in destination charges. My XLT tester packs a spray-in bedliner, Co-Pilot 360, some cool paint and floor liners, and that rings in at an affordable $25,630. A fully loaded Hybrid Lariat rings in at $31,755, which is still a screamin' deal when the average new-car transaction price is pushing $50,000.
The Maverick's chief competitor, the Hyundai Santa Cruz, is another value-laden unibody pickup, but there are a few key differences. The Ford leans a little harder on value, while the Hyundai feels a little more upmarket. The Santa Cruz can also haul and tow a bit more, and its optional engine upgrade is a little peppier. However, it's also more expensive, and it offers no electrification. Thus, if you really want to prioritize price and efficiency, it's hard to deny just how good the 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid is.