The Maverick is a new small pickup based on Ford’s Bronco Sport and Escape SUVs. Starting at just under $20,000, it occupies an increasingly popular niche—a small truck that can be bought on a budget. With a civilized ride, handy maneuverability, easy access, and decent fuel efficiency, the Maverick outscores every pickup in its class, other than the larger and more expensive Honda Ridgeline.
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    Ford Maverick Road Test

    The Maverick is a new small pickup based on Ford’s Bronco Sport and Escape SUVs. Starting at just under $20,000, it occupies an increasingly popular niche—a small truck that can be bought on a budget. With a civilized ride, handy maneuverability, easy access, and decent fuel efficiency, the Maverick outscores every pickup in its class, other than the larger and more expensive Honda Ridgeline.

    It is better-suited to most “truck stuff”—whether for work or play—than the similarly-sized Hyundai Santa Cruz. For instance, the Ford’s 4.5-foot-long bed has about one-and-a-half times the volume of the little Hyundai’s, and the bed’s low height makes it easy to load. The tailgate can be positioned at an upward angle which, in conjunction with the tops of the rear wheel wells and ratchet straps, makes it possible to carry standard 4x8 sheets of plywood. Owners are also likely to appreciate the handy sliding tie-down rings and in-bed lighting. One “truck stuff” area where the Santa Cruz is superior is towing: When properly equipped the Hyundai has the ability to tow a trailer of up to 5,000 pounds, whereas the Ford is limited to 4,000 pounds.

    The Maverick’s standard powertrain is a hybrid, employing the same hardware as the Escape hybrid. The 191-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder with electric drive is linked to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) and front-wheel drive. The hybrid version that we tested can do most small truck workhorse tasks, but the powertrain registered 37 mpg overall in our tests, making it far more efficient than any other pickup. It’s not as quick as the turbo model, but the electric motor gives smooth and robust response at low speeds, and we like that the hybrid eliminates the turbo model’s annoying engine vibrations.

    Best Version to Get
    The hybrid is the best way to maximize fuel economy, but its usefulness is limited in snowy regions since it’s only available with front-wheel drive. The optional turbo engine is the way to go for buyers looking for more power and all-wheel-drive traction. Regardless, we’d opt for the XLT trim equi...
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