Ford is reinventing the truly compact pickup with the Maverick, designed to meet the needs of everyone from the entry-level buyer to the high-end Lariat owner. To accomplish this feat on a $20,000 price range, designers incorporate mainstream materials that grab attention and smart features that win our praise.
The start-up sequence alone is special, with the bright LCD instrument cluster welcoming the driver with an image of the Maverick with blazing headlights, turning at a three-quarter view. Press the ignition button and the projection rotates to show the back of the bed with “Built Ford Tough” appearing on screen. Nice.
Despite the Maverick’s small dimensions, the cabin feels spacious with clever designs for storing everything from cell phones to large water bottles, the latter made possible by keeping the door armrests short to allow for large containers. Storage under the rear seats is large enough for laptop bags, heavy boots or even fully inflated volleyballs.
Our $37,000 tester (in the photo below) included all premium features. But it retained the tough, simple interior materials common to all Mavericks, such as stone-textured plastic dash trim that’s both tough and economical, allowing Ford to maintain the Maverick’s starting price. at just $20,000.
“There’s plastic everywhere, but it doesn’t look like plastic everywhere,” said judge Jim Irwin.
Judge Christie Schweinsberg notes the use of color and texture, including engineered grain on plastics and fabric-feel paint, to create a more upscale look and feel. Copper highlights throughout the cabin, from the door armrests to the air vent surrounds, complement the Desert Brown seat and center console trim, with all items well cushioned.
We noticed that the truck’s cabin heats up quickly, controlled by large rubberized temperature knobs for the driver and passenger, keeping with the truck’s simple, functional theme.
Ford’s SYNC connectivity system responds quickly and correctly to voice commands, while the vehicle’s driver assistance features impress. We put in plenty of miles on the Maverick, enjoying the ease of reliable adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping along the way.
What is a truck without a useful bed? The Maverick’s short four-and-a-half-foot (1.38m) bed belies its Flexbed functionality. It includes a multi-position tailgate to accommodate longer loads, power outlets and a dozen tie-down points, some of which double as bottle openers.
We appreciate that Ford designers specifically targeted DIY solutions for building bike racks and other transportation options.
Judge Drew Winter’s remarks: “The first thing that impressed me were the QR codes at various places in the cabin and the box that would lead you to places where you could purchase and install accessories yourself without going to the dealer.”
For Ford to put a customer’s needs and priorities before the profits of its accessories business will resonate with what will likely be an entry-level buyer for Maverick.
With the Maverick, Ford is putting the fun into the functional – and winning a Wards 10 Best Interiors and UX 2022 trophy in the process.