The 2022 Ford Maverick dual-cab ute has been officially unveiled, as the smaller companion to one of Australia’s best-selling vehicles, the evergreen Ford Ranger ute – though an Australian launch remains off the table for now.
Slated to go on sale in the US later this year priced from just US$19,995 (AU$25,800), the Maverick doesn't ride on a traditional body-on-frame platform like the larger Ranger and F-150 pick-ups, instead employing the front- and all-wheel-drive C2 architecture used by the Focus small car, Escape medium SUV, Bronco Sport off-road SUV and other Ford passenger cars.
However, despite many of those vehicles being offered in Australia, don't expect to see the Maverick in Australian showrooms, as it is believed to have been engineered solely in left-hand drive – though its shared C2 platform means an eventual right-hand drive model and Australian launch aren't completely out of the question later down the road.
While the Maverick's 1814kg maximum towing capacity and 680kg maximum payload might trail a Ranger's 3500kg towing and circa-1000kg payload capacities, it makes up it for in car-like driving dynamics, a lower price and, thanks to its Escape-derived platform, the fitment of fuel-sipping hybrid power as standard.
The standard-fit hybrid powertrain (largely shared with the Ford Escape) combines a 121kW/210Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor to develop a combined 142kW, sent to the front wheels only through a CVT automatic transmission (with no all-wheel drive available on the hybrid).
Ford claims an estimated urban US fuel economy figure of 5.9L/100km (40mpg) – increasing to an estimated 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle – though the hybrid's fuel economy gains see maximum towing capacity rated at just 907kg, and payload at 680kg.
Buyers keen on more punch will be able to opt for a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine shared with the Bronco Sport, sending 186kW and 376Nm through an eight-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels as standard, or all four wheels optionally.
The 2.0-litre turbo model offers the same 680kg payload and 907kg maximum towing figures as the hybrid as standard, though an optional 4K Tow Package can up the braked towing capacity to 1814kg – a figure which splits the two variants of the Ford's main rival, the Hyundai Tucson SUV-based Hyundai Santa Cruz, which can pull up to 2268kg.
The Maverick measures in at 5072mm long, 1844mm wide and 1745mm high, riding on a 3076mm wheelbase – 374mm shorter in overall length, 133mm narrower, 76mm lower and 144mm shorter in wheelbase than a dual-cab Ranger XLT pick-up sold in Australia.
The tray on both models measures 1372mm long by 1219mm wide – notable decreases over the Ranger's 1560mm by 1549mm cargo area – though Ford says it's capable of housing a quad bike, or 37 bags of 18kg mulch.
Known as the FlexBed, the Maverick's tray offers an array of features and customisability options to fit the owner's needs, including two tie-down points, four D-rings (which double as bottle openers), up to two storage compartments, and slots in the sides of the load area to create segmented storage areas, elevated floors, bike racks, and more.
There's also a multi-position tailgate, a 12-volt outlet for smaller electrical devices, plus one of two available mains electrical outlets to power laptops, cordless tool chargers, and more.
While the all-wheel drive (AWD) Maverick's independent front and rear suspension and compromised ground clearance means it won't be able to keep up with a Ranger off-road, an FX4 off-road package will be available, adding 235/65 all-terrain tyres, unique 17-inch wheels, mono-tube dampers, additional underbody protection, hill-descent control, and two off-road modes.
On the styling front, the Maverick borrows some of the Bronco Sport's boxy, rugged design cues, pairing them with softer lines and smooth surfacing akin to its car-derived underpinnings.
Up front, large LED headlights (standard on all models) are connected across the grille by a grey bar featuring Ford's elliptical emblem – a design trait spy photos indicate will be shared with the next-generation Ranger – while a small styling detail under the side mirrors hints at the stepped front windows of the larger F-150.
'MAVERICK' is stamped into the rear tailgate, flanked by halogen tail-lights (with LED units not available at all, even as an option).
Maverick First Edition models – offered only for the first model year – score bonnet and door graphics, a gloss black roof, body-coloured door handles, a soft tonneau cover, and either two-tone 18-inch wheels on the hybrid, or 17-inch aluminium wheels on the 2.0-litre variant.
Inside, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot sits atop the dashboard, while drivers look into a 4.2- or 6.5-inch digital display between the analog instrument dials, depending on variant.
Cloth seats and a plastic steering wheel feature on entry-level XL models, with higher grades upgrading to a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leatherette seats.
A range of clever storage touches feature around the cabin, including slots for an array of removable accessories including cupholders, shopping bag hooks, cable organisers and more, plus split door armrests large enough to store one-litre water bottles, and a storage bin under the rear seats.
Standard safety features across the range include autonomous emergency braking and auto high-beam, with higher grades available as standard or as an option with adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-centring assist.
The 2022 Ford Maverick dual-cab ute will go on sale in the northern autumn of 2021 (Australia's spring) – however, it won't be coming to Australia.
Prices in the US start at US$19,995 (AU$25,800) for the entry-level XL hybrid – making the base Maverick the cheapest hybrid vehicle on sale in the US, irrespective of body style, and undercutting the cheapest, petrol-only Toyota Corolla by just $30.
However, base models lack features like cruise control, alloy wheels, rear USB ports, and a leather steering wheel – all restricted to option packages or higher grades.
A flagship Lariat model with the 2.0-litre turbo engine and all-wheel drive will set buyers back US$28,795 (AU$37,200).