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2024 Ford Maverick Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
February 14, 2024
2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・ Photo by Brady Holt

For many people, a pickup truck is all about size and capability – bigger and mightier is better. The best-selling pickups are full-size models with tons of room, huge engines, and incredible towing and payload limits. 

But as pickups grow and grow, more and more folks have pined for an alternative. The 2024 Ford Maverick proved that. This is a small, inexpensive, fuel-efficient light-duty pickup that took the market by storm when it debuted two model years ago. Buyers eagerly snapped up every Maverick that Ford could build last year – nearly 100,000 – and the automaker recently worked to boost its production capacity. But prices have also gone up, from $19,995 at launch to $23,815 now. And the gas-electric hybrid powertrain, previously included at that base price, now starts at $25,315. We just spent a week in a 2024 Maverick to see if it still makes sense when it’s more expensive. 

Intentionally Unassuming Design

Large or small, most pickups emphasize their toughness. Chiseled front ends, glaring grilles, assertive fenders, and big wheels are the rule. Not the Ford Maverick. It has a boxy shape with smoothed-off edges, and its big, boxy headlights are also gently rounded where they meet the fender. The grille doesn’t get in your face. The wheels are a choice of 17 inches and 18 inches. Off-road-themed appearance packages black out the wheels and headlights but still keep the Maverick simple. 

To us, the Maverick’s plain looks are an asset more than a liability. Its quiet design might as well shout “I’m unpretentious,” and that’s a desirable asset if you want a pickup bed without a lot of flash. As we’ll discuss, the Maverick shares its front-wheel-drive-based platform with Ford’s compact crossover SUVs – the Escape and Bronco Sport. You’ll notice that it doesn’t have any division between its cab and bed like a traditional pickup. But first, you’ll notice that it’s petite. At 200 inches long, 73 inches wide, and 69 inches tall, it’s 11 inches shorter, 6 inches narrower, and 5 inches lower than the mid-size Ford Ranger. 

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Interior That Keeps It Simple

The Maverick’s simple and functional vibe continues to its interior. It’s neither a technological showpiece nor a piece of macho toughness. The interior plastics are hard and the trim pieces include some exposed screws, but that’s all part of the atmosphere – purposeful, not sad and cheap. Our top-of-the-line Lariat test vehicle wore handsome Desert Brown leatherette upholstery, but it felt sturdy rather than froufrou. We just wish for bigger, easier-to-grasp interior door handles. 

On the technology front, we think Ford has found a balance that should appease both technophobes and technophiles. There’s an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, but it’s simple and easy to use, and physical buttons and knobs also abound. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are standard. We’ve heard rumors that the 2025 Maverick will have a bigger screen, but today’s model should satisfy all but the most ardent proponents of digital living. 

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Space-Efficient Cabin

As we mentioned, the Maverick is much smaller than its Ford Ranger sibling. But you won’t feel the pinch in its wonderfully space-efficient cabin. Its light-duty suspension doesn’t take up much room, leaving more space for the driver and passengers. 

Now, we don’t want to get your hopes too high. The Maverick is about as roomy as a Ford Bronco Sport, which means plenty of space up front and tight but usable rear legroom. And the center console isn’t wide enough to keep a driver and front passenger from bumping elbows if they share the center armrest. Still, the Maverick is just about as roomy as the Ranger despite being significantly smaller. Storage bins hide under the rear seat cushion, which you can flip up to carry bulkier items inside the cabin.  

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Drives Like a Car

The next advantage to the Maverick’s car-based underpinnings is how it drives. You’ll find small sedans that handle with less verve. The steering is firm, direct, and responsive, and it’s paired with a well-sorted suspension that delivers impressive composure whether you’re going in a straight line or around a curve. Firm without being stiff, this is a delightfully agreeable pickup to drive if you aren’t dedicated to the character of a bouncy traditional truck. It’s comfortable yet buttoned-down and downright lively.

Under the hood is a choice of two four-cylinder engines. This year, the more powerful engine is standard equipment. It’s a 2.0-liter with 250 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, which is nearly as much strength as you’ll find under the hood of larger mid-size pickups. It’s effortlessly quick despite occasional stumbles from the eight-speed automatic transmission. The optional upgrade is a non-turbo gas-electric hybrid, which makes 191 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. It’s smoother but noisier and not as quick, but still competitive for a small pickup. Note that the hybrid is only available with front-wheel drive, while the turbo has a choice of front- and all-wheel drive. 

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Economical for a Pickup

The headliner for the Maverick’s fuel efficiency is the optional hybrid. The EPA pegs it at 42 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 37 mpg combined – blowing away any other pickup that doesn’t need a plug. But even the turbo gets great mileage for a pickup: 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 1 mpg less with all-wheel drive on most trim levels. (The off-road-focused Tremor, with grippier tires and a slightly lifted suspension, dips to 21 mpg combined.) We matched the EPA’s 25 mpg estimate during our test of the AWD turbo, and we’ve previously observed 38 mpg in a Maverick Hybrid. 

The hybrid now costs $1,500 extra versus the Maverick turbo, in addition to making less power and not offering all-wheel drive. And if you mostly drive on the open freeway, you might not see much advantage. But if you spend a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic, idling, or cruising at lower speeds, the mileage gulf opens up between the two powertrains. 

2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid XL ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid XL ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Light-Duty Capability

We’ve talked about all the benefits of the Maverick’s petite size and car-based roots. Now for the downside: When it comes to truck stuff, it won’t be big and strong enough for everyone. 

To start, every Maverick has a mere 54-inch (4.5-foot) bed versus the 5-foot bed in the Ranger and most mid-size trucks. And while its payload capacity is respectable at around 1,500 pounds, towing capacity is low for a pickup: 2,000 pounds with the hybrid powertrain and a maximum of 4,000 pounds with the turbo (when equipped with an optional towing package). You also won’t take it off-roading like you would a Ranger; its AWD system is more for extra traction in snow or mud than for tackling mountain trails. Plus, as we mentioned, the Maverick Hybrid doesn’t even offer AWD at all.  

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Higher Prices, But Still Reasonable

Even though the Maverick’s prices have gone up, it still offers a lot for the money. The least expensive Ford Ranger is about $8,000 more. The cheapest full-size Ford F-150 costs about the same as the Ranger, but if you want one with a backseat, you’re looking at $15,000 more than the Maverick. 

Ford sells the Maverick in three trim levels: XL, XLT, and Lariat. The $23,815 XL has all-business steel wheels but isn’t too spartan otherwise. Amenities include cloth upholstery, cruise control, power windows and locks (though manually adjustable mirrors), the 8-inch infotainment screen, a six-speaker stereo, and a forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. The XLT, $26,315, has alloy wheels, a power-locking tailgate, upgraded cloth upholstery, and the chance to buy more options, including the FX4 and Tremor off-road packages, a power driver’s seats, heating for the front seats and steering wheel, and a moonroof. The Lariat, like our test vehicle, starts at $34,855 with those options (minus the still-optional moonroof) plus leatherette upholstery, automatic climate control, bigger 18-inch wheels, and all-wheel drive (which costs $2,200 extra on lesser trim levels). In total, our Lariat rang in at $37,330 including the $745 towing package and a $1,595 destination charge. That’s not exactly cheap, but consider that you can spend $50,000 and up for an F-150 with cloth seats. 

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Alternatives to Consider

The Maverick isn’t the only light-duty compact pickup on the market. Its closest rival is the Hyundai Santa Cruz, which has wilder styling, a bigger touchscreen, and a longer list of available luxury amenities. It also costs thousands more and its base engine doesn’t match the Maverick’s for either power or fuel efficiency. (An available turbo matches the former but trails the latter.) Another car-based pickup is the Honda Ridgeline, but it’s bigger, cushier, and more expensive; given its space, comfort, and refinement, we consider it an alternative to a full-size pickup as much as a mid-size one. 

You could also shop the Maverick against a crossover SUV. By opting for an enclosed cargo hold instead of a bed, you get some extra cargo flexibility to carry bulky items. And even as a small pickup, the Maverick is over a foot longer than a compact crossover. But it has more power at a lower starting price than any compact crossover. 

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz ・ Photo by Brady Holt

A Smart Little Machine

The 2024 Ford Maverick more than justifies its high demand. It delivers simplicity and value in a world where few other pickups do the same. Its ultra-low pricing would make it appealing even before you consider its power, efficiency, or handling. 

Ford could have gotten away with charging even more for the Maverick. We’re relieved that it decided (and managed) to crank up its production instead. That means even more people will get a chance to appreciate a smaller, simpler, and more fun to drive pickup. We don’t mean the small, light-duty Maverick is for everyone. But if you’d rather carry some gravel and mulch in a pickup bed than in the back of your SUV, or even if you merely want any affordable 250-horsepower or hybrid-powered vehicle, the Maverick delivers. 

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Ford Maverick Lariat ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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