Trucks have evolved considerably over the last couple of decades while remaining exactly the same. The premise is simple: give it seats for people, give it a bed for stuff, but most importantly, make it huge so you feel extra American. That basic formula has been tweaked in endless ways to cater to specific buyers—but then came the Ford Maverick—a compact, economical, honest-to-goodness little pickup truck that’s taken America by storm. The 2023 Ford Maverick Tremor is the off-road-capable version of it, and it expands the small-truck segment in ways that haven’t been seen since the previous-gen Ranger many moons ago.
You know which kind of truck I’m talking about—the tiny, beat-up pickup proudly hauling tons of hay down at the farm. Or the weekend-warrior truck decked out with camping/sporting gear and enough stickers to cover the entire rear window. These are usually modded with all-terrain tires, a bedliner, and maybe some aftermarket fenders and lights. Either way, they’re out there doing work, getting dirty, and most importantly, getting places.
And that’s the Maverick Tremor’s motto: getting you there. I’ve spent time in the basic hybrid Maverick before and loved it, but I wasn’t too sure about the Tremor. After spending a week with it, however, I’ve realized that it isn’t so much about taking you off-road in the same way that a bigger pickup (or SUV) could, but about giving you a wider range of activities you can do with a tiny pickup. It’s no longer just for plumbers or fleet operators, it’s for anyone who wants a capable truck and isn’t afraid of buying the smallest one there is.
2023 Ford Maverick Tremor Specs
- Base price (Tremor as tested): $26,450 ($33,160)
- Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder | eight-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 250 @ 5500 rpm
- Torque: 277 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
- Max payload capacity: 1,200 pounds
- Max towing capacity: 2,000 pounds
- Off-road angles: 30.7˚approach, 22.2˚departure, 19.9˚ breakover
- Ground Clearance: 9.4 inches
- EPA fuel economy: 20 mpg city | 24 mpg highway | 21 mpg combined
- Quick take: What the Maverick Tremor loses in fuel economy due to its off-road goodies, it gains in all-around capability and ruggedness.
- Score: 8.5/10
The Ford Maverick is the Blue Oval’s tiniest pickup in the U.S., and the baby in a big family of light- and heavy-duty trucks: Maverick, Ranger, F-150, F-250, F-350, F-450, F-550, F-600, F-650, and F-750. It’s only available with four doors and is offered with two four-cylinder engines: a 2.5-liter hybrid and a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo. The former only supports front-wheel drive while the latter features all-wheel drive.
Despite being the least expensive model in Ford’s truck lineup, the Maverick doesn’t forego good styling. It’s a boxy beauty that oozes function over form with its small hood, big cabin, and do-it-all bed. The Tremor ups the ante with a trim-specific grille, headlights and taillights, blacked-out Ford badges, orange tow hooks, Tremor graphics, and sweet 17-inch wheels with orange accents. And while these add-ons can make it sound like “Look at me I’m an off-roady boy!” they really don’t. The end result is a tiny truck with a slightly louder attitude than the normal Maverick, but it doesn’t come off as thirsty like the Bronco Raptor I recently drove does.
The same applies to the interior. You’ll find everything you need and nothing that you don’t. An eight-inch infotainment screen sits atop the center console without visually dominating the dash. Physical controls make it easy to operate the most basic functions. I counted just under 20 buttons and knobs, a fraction of what you’ll find in a loaded F-150. The gauge cluster features two old-fashioned gauges with a digital screen in the middle. Below the climate controls you’ll find two charging ports—one USB-A and another USB-C—followed by a rotary shifter and Tremor-specific 4WD controls beside the two cupholders. It’s all very straightforward and tidy.
The Tremor comes equipped with the more powerful of the two four-bangers: the 2.0-liter turbo that produces 250 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid, meanwhile, makes do with 162 hp and 155 lb-ft. The 2.0 certainly packs a bigger punch and makes the truck more capable but loses out on fuel economy, which is one of the biggest reasons to buy a Maverick. More on this later.
Driving the Ford Maverick Tremor
Driving the Maverick Tremor is uneventful—but in a good way. The EcoBoost’s 250 hp is more than enough to power the wee truck and make it feel confident when merging onto or cruising on the highway. It doesn’t leave you hoping for more. Step hard on the accelerator and you’ll make the engine scream a bit, but it’s not an overly dramatic, unpleasant grunt. It’s surprising how strong a four-banger can feel when properly tuned for a specific application. Speaking of, while the Maverick is a compact truck, it’s not exactly a featherweight: the Tremor weighs 3,807 pounds.
When it comes to steering feel, it’s the same story. There are no surprises here, you get what you see. It’s direct in the same way that most economy cars are. You feel the road and you feel what the front tires are doing, and it’s a bit weighty. There’s a nice amount of play at the center, meaning it’s not overly quick but not lethargic either. I found it to be delightful for daily duty around town, though I do wonder how it would feel with about nearly 1,000 pounds of stuff in the bed—or a 2,000-pound trailer. The same goes for the brakes and suspension. Both shine when zipping around town, offering a relaxed, comfortable, and in the case of the brakes, confident driving experience. Max out the little truck’s capacities, though, and that might be a different story.
I will say that the Tremor’s off-road-tailored suspension feels bouncy at times, mostly due to the different configuration and one-inch lift. The 17-inch Falken Wildpeak A/T tires, too, produce more noise than the standard tires on the vanilla Maverick, but that’s another expected consequence.
The Highs and Lows
It’s not often that any vehicle, regardless of price, shines because of its overall package, but the Maverick Tremor does. From styling to performance and, of course, practicality, it ranks up there on my list with the Honda Civic. It’s all about bang for the buck, baby.
If you’re over six feet tall, it will take some time getting comfortable behind the wheel. As for the backseat, forget it. I’m six feet tall and my knee kept hitting the plastic door handle, which was rather obnoxious and after a full day of driving, a bit painful, too. I had to move the seat closer to the wheel than I’d prefer in order to avoid that. My teenage son is six foot two and he didn’t comfortably fit in the back. The passenger side with the seat pretty far back was his only choice.
Ford Maverick Tremor Features, Options, and Competition
My tester was an XLT trim, meaning it sits one down from the top Lariat trim. If you’re not looking to unlock access to comfort features like leather seats, dual-zone climate, a heated steering wheel, and other tech options, this is the sweet spot of the Maverick range. It’s frugal but still nicely equipped. The Maverick seen here also featured basic goodies like the aforementioned infotainment screen (no built-in nav, but who cares), a locking rear differential, Tremor off-road driving modes, cruise control (not standard), remote keyless entry without push-button start, and toasty heated seats. The only optional equipment in this truck was the Tremor package I mentioned earlier on.
I truly believe the Maverick Tremor’s biggest competitor is the normal Maverick, but for the sake of comparing it to a similar off-road-inspired compact pickup, we’ll look at the Hyundai Santa Cruz equipped with the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine. In this configuration, the Hyundai produces 31 more hp than the Tremor and can out-tow it by a decent 3,500 pounds in front-drive configuration and 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive when equipped with trailer brakes. Without trailer brakes, both models come in at just 1,650 pounds. Similarly equipped, the Hyundai costs nearly $40,000 for the SEL Premium trim, and over $41,000 for the Limited. Meanwhile, the Tremor starts at $26,450 and the one I tested came in at $33,160.
How would I spec a Maverick Tremor? Pretty similar to this one, but I’d move up to the Lariat trim so I could get a heated steering wheel and nicer leather interior. Posh, I know. Also, I’d throw in a padded liner in the bed and a paint-matched camper top over the bed so I could safely haul my Newfoundland dog and her Golden Retriever sibling.
One of the biggest reasons for buying a compact truck with a small footprint is to enjoy most of the benefits of a full-size pickup truck without big bills at the gas station. The moment you start adding more power, lifting the suspension, and all-terrain tires, you start messing with the fuel economy.
Buying a Tremor over the basic Maverick and complaining that it’s not as good on gas would be like adding Tabasco to your eggs and then complaining that they’re spicy. Duh. I’m highlighting this merely because consumers should be aware of which Maverick fits their needs best.
At the end of the day, I observed around 23 mpg overall combined while tooling around town, which is a bit higher than the EPA estimate of 21. However, the last F-150 I owned was a 2017 XLT SuperCrew FX4 with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, and I could get 21 mpg around town. Averaging just 2 mpg higher in a tiny Maverick doesn’t motivate me to buy a Tremor.
Value and Verdict
I can’t think of another vehicle, truck or otherwise, that offers this much value for 33 grand. The fact that you can buy a good-looking, nicely-equipped, and capable compact pickup truck for that kind of money in 2023 when everything’s been inflated through the roof is pretty spectacular.
It comes down to this: do you need the Tremor package? If you do, then you’ll be carrying on the legacy of little pickups that can. Whether you want it for its looks, for going on adventures off the beaten path, or for ranch duty, the Maverick Tremor was meant to do all of that. If you don’t need the all-terrain goodies and want better fuel economy, get the hybrid.
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