By Tim Plouff
Drivers of a certain age will remember when, and how, Toyota and then-named Datsun, gained their toe-hold in the American automotive market. It was 1968 and two tiny pickups appeared first in California, but soon swept across the country as these compact, rear-drive, econo-box pick-em-ups created more than a niche category. The Toyo Hilux and Datsun Truck were the meager beginnings for an Asian invasion.
While the compact truck fad ebbed and flowed during the 1970’s and 1980’s, pickups by and large soon became a mainstay of our driving fleet with millions of full-size pickups sold each year. In the latest Automotive News new vehicle data for the first quarter of 2022, full-size pickups account for four of the top-ten selling vehicles in America. Only one car remains on the top-ten list—an incredible evolution away from the conventional 4-door family vehicle.
Yet, after a week with Ford’s new Maverick crew-cab compact pickup, in front-drive Hybrid XL trim, it would be easy to be convinced that the small truck revival is about to enter Take Two. This time, the tool is a refined Swiss-Army knife; it handles, it is quiet, it has great ergonomics, it works hard (with a 1,500-pound payload), it can tow up to 4,000-pounds in AWD trim, plus the Maverick returned a stellar 45-mpg after 500-miles together. The icing on this sweet Velocity Blue chocolate cake; the list price is only $21,490!
Maverick, where have you been??
Our Maverick got to haul a load of fresh cedar deck-planks, go to Deer Isle hiking with a full crew, and wander around home doing the various chores that one would use a small truck for. Throw the chainsaw in the back, haul some dirt for the road, get groceries, go out to eat—the Maverick seemed a perfect fit for each task. And got—45-mpg.
The instrument panel’s energy gauge encourages you to drive like eggs are under the throttle, true, yet when that doddering car in front is holding you from your appointed rounds, the Maverick’s twin-electric motors and 2.5-liter engine combine to produce robust passing torque. Did I mention that the Maverick got 45-mpg, handily beating the EPA mileage estimates?
While the FWD format is great for summer chores, I can’t help but think an AWD version of the hybrid has to be in the wings from Ford, plus the presence of so many on-line photos of the ST version proves that Ford recognizes that the Maverick’s proportions and general shape are perfect for the individualist that want to customize this tidy package. Big sport wheels, two-tone paint, and four-wheel powerslides—in a hybrid Maverick!
The general media is bending the curve for the F-series Lightning EV. This Maverick just might be equally as consequential in the grand scheme of things for Ford.