Ford Unveils Compact Pickup Powered by Electric Hybrid Engine

Priced just under $20,000, the Maverick features a 94-kilowatt electric motor.

Ford Maverick

Ford is on a roll. It hit at least a triple with its F-150 Lightning—a version of America’s bestselling vehicle that’s actually a better deal than the gas version—and now it’s sent that runner across the plate with another line drive. The 2022 Maverick is a compact pickup, and the first mainstream hybrid truck on the market, with 40 miles per gallon in the city and a 500-mile cruising range on a single tank. The real game-changer (as with the Lightning) is the price—$19,995 ($21,490 with destination). It goes on sale this fall.

Compact pickups—huge in the 1970s and 1980s—have been slow sellers more recently, but this offering could change that. It comes standard with the hybrid drive and CVT transmission, in a four-door SuperCrew configuration that seats five, with a 4.5-foot pickup bed. And it takes another cue from the Lightning with great workplace utility, including two 12-volt power sources at the back, and two available 110-volt outlets for power tools and the like. It can carry 1,500 pounds, and tow 2,000 pounds. 

The Lightning is built to be a serious off-roader, but the Maverick seems aimed at a different audience. The hybrid setup, with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine, a CVT transmission, and a 94-kilowatt electric motor, will not be available with an all-wheel drive. (For that, buyers will need to choose the optional two-liter EcoBoost gas engine, which also increasing towing ability to 4,000 pounds.) 

There’s a noticeable difference between the output of the hybrid drivetrain and gas engine, 191 versus 250 horsepower. And the bigger engine offers 277 pound-feet of torque (compared to 155). That could lead some customers to check the EcoBoost box, but my guess is they’ll get more owner satisfaction with the standard hybrid. The fuel economy with the gas engine will be mediocre, in the mid-20s combined, and the price can creep up quickly. Adding the turbo four will cost $1,085, and all-wheel drive $3,305 on top of that. The tow package to get to 4,000 pounds is another $745. But order all these options and you might as well get an F-150. 

Ford was actually the first American manufacturer to field a hybrid, the Escape, in 2004. Coincidentally, it got about the same 40 mpg—and made a great taxi. Maverick hasn’t gotten an official mileage figure from the EPA yet, but the company estimates it at 40 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 37 mpg combined. Yes, because hybrids use regenerative braking they get better fuel economy around town. 

Tapping into economies of scale, the Maverick shares its chassis (but not its powertrain) with the Bronco Sport, a compact crossover. The Maverick looks big in pictures, but as trucks have gotten humungous it’s actually a welcome return to sanity, sized with the new Hyundai Santa Cruz. You won’t need a ladder (or a running board) to climb into them. 

Journalists haven’t driven the Maverick yet, but given its car-like unibody construction, it’s likely to be Prius-like on the road. The Prius gets some grief for its appliance-adjacent performance, but its owners get exactly what they want—comfortable, economical cruising. 

There might be a fully electric Maverick ahead. Ford CEO Jim Farley speculated the Maverick could end up in a family of vehicles. The ecstatic reaction to the Lightning undoubtedly encourages that kind of thinking. Farley told The New York Times, “The electrification of the industry is a big change, and I think it wasn’t clear until we launched Lightning and Mach E that Ford was going to be a winner in this new electric reality. Now investors are betting on Ford, and what they’re telling me is, ‘The strategy is attractive, Go execute it, Farley.’”

The original Maverick, by the way, was introduced in 1969, when compact cars were still riding high. Detroit was then very concerned about the invaders from Japan (Toyota) and Germany (VW Beetle). The Maverick was no innovator, but you could spec it with a 170-cubic-inch “Thriftpower” six, and it was competitively priced at $1,995 (only $500 more than a Beetle). And guess what? They sold more than 450,000 of them in 1970. The new Maverick represents a similar value.