Despite its relatively compact size and impressive fuel economy, the 2022 Ford Maverick is still a truck. It may not be a traditional one with body-on-frame construction, but from a capability standpoint, it works so hard you won't second guess its unibody make-up. It uses Ford's C2 architecture, which also underpins the Escape and Bronco Sport, though neither of those can handle 1,500 pounds of payload or tow a max of 4,000 pounds. So how'd Ford do it with the Maverick?
First, there are some clear changes that are noticeable both on paper and in person. The Maverick's wheelbase is about a foot longer than the Bronco Sport's, measuring 121.1 inches—that's a plus for load stability. It's also 27 inches longer overall, measuring 199.7 inches front-to-back compared to the Bronco Sport at 172.7 inches. So while it's clearly smaller than a Ranger, Ford's latest pickup doesn't go completely tiny, which is for the best if you want a livable truck that can tow comfortably with at highway speeds. Notice big rigs normally have long wheelbases instead of short, stubby ones—there's a good reason for that.
Then you've gotta look at all the functionality a pickup body inherently brings. You're not getting a 4x8 piece of plywood into the trunk of an Escape or Bronco Sport, but with the Maverick's 4.5-foot bed, you can drop the tailgate halfway and extend the usable space, allowing it to shoulder the weight along with the wheel wells. Thanks to that nifty setup, the truck can hold 18 sheets of plywood, no matter whether it's a hybrid or the more powerful, turbocharged EcoBoost model.
And while this sounds great in theory, it'd all be for naught if it couldn't withstand constant and repeated abuse. That's where Ford's testing team came in, and I talked with vehicle engineer Brad Daugherty about the paces they put the Maverick through to ensure it's up to snuff.
"As we stretched the body, created all that new sheet metal, and looked at our payload capacity targets we designed that in, we used the exact same requirements as we do for F-Series," Daugherty explained. "When you talk about tailgate strength, when you talk about drop tests for the bed floor—all that is exactly the same as F-150 and Super Duty."
He then brought up another advantage of using the C2 architecture, which is that it's already been tested extensively in the past few years.
"The C2 platform which this is built off, we have over nine million miles of durability testing on this platform," Daugherty continued. "So we took that as a starting point, and then we said, 'But it is a truck. It is a Ford truck.' So we actually created a new durability cycle that leveraged some of our commercial vehicle usages like the Transit Connect and full-size Transit. We took this, from a durability perspective, far beyond what Escape and Bronco Sport do because we know customers are gonna load them. We want them to treat it like a truck and we want it to behave like a Ford truck."
That seemed to shine through when I drove the Maverick through Tennessee's famously steep hills last week. Whether there was a pallet of mulch in the bed or a trailer behind me with two full-size ATVs, the Maverick kept trucking without issue. If you're not worried about towing more than 2,000 pounds, then the hybrid is right for you. If you need that little bit extra, though, and have a decent load to tow around, then spring for an EcoBoost with AWD and the 4K Tow package. Not only do you get the 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four in that case, but you also get an eight-speed automatic transmission, four- and seven-pin trailer connectors, and an integrated trailer brake controller.
Of course, there are still parts shared between Ford's newest truck and its midsize crossovers. The Maverick's suspension is largely the same as the Bronco Sport's, and the top-shelf 2.0-liter EcoBoost makes exactly the same horsepower and torque in both applications. It's all the little things that make the Maverick its own model, so don't give in to the drama online—it's a truck, that much I can confirm.
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