AWD Ford Maverick XLT First Truck
2022 Ford Maverick XLT AWD; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

All the Truck I Need: 2022 Ford Maverick 3,000-Mile Ownership Review

The Ford Maverick represents a return to simpler times and lower prices of truck ownership.

Somewhere along the way, trucks became complicated and luxury-laden versions of their former selves. I was in the market for a vehicle that could get me to remote trailheads and campsites without worry; I settled on Ford’s smallest truck.

You can call the Ford Maverick a trucklet, a baby truck, or a unibody truck. For me, it’s a mid-size truck that fits four passengers comfortably and offers the utility of packing camping gear, bikes, and dirty equipment in its short bed.

After more than 3,000 miles of driving on city streets, highways, and forest service roads, I was able to test and enjoy several of its design features. Not only did the Maverick surpass my expectations in terms of engine power and utility, but it also handles the road much better than larger trucks I’ve driven.

If you’re looking for an off-road capable vehicle priced like a sedan, you should consider this truck. Just know, you should also appreciate function over form.

2022 Ford Maverick Review

Pros

  • Perfect size for city and trail
  • Easy and comfortable to live with daily
  • Super versatile, but tiny, truck bed
  • Great underseat storage
  • Confidence inspiring off-road

Cons

  • On-screen volume and fan level changes block driving directions
  • Paint seems thin
  • Rearview mirror poorly placed for visibility (Read below)
2022 Ford Maverick red dirt Victor CO
A 2022 Ford Maverick XLT with all the toppings; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

The Ford Maverick is built on the same platform as the brand’s Escape and Bronco Sport. Its concept isn’t new, either; there were short-bed Ford Explorers a decade ago and I still see them on the road.

Ford says the Maverick is aimed at first-time truck buyers — the truck-curious if you will. Apart from its unibody build, the Maverick reminds me of the classic compact pickups from Toyota and the Chevy S10. Of course, these were two-door trucks with full beds, but I’ve grown to enjoy the four-door cab of the Maverick.

The Ford Maverick created a buzz when it debuted the standard hybrid truck with a measly $20,000 price tag. If I still lived in Texas or the southeast, that’s the model I would have chased. I say chased because by the time I ordered it in January 2022, the hybrids were hard to come by.

However, living in Colorado, I set my sights on the AWD option that only comes with the turbocharged EcoBoost 2.0L engine — for now — which bumped up the base price to roughly $27,500.

2022 Ford Maverick with bike rack Zach Burton
The Maverick XLT comes with a hitch for easy bike hauling; (photo/Zach Burton)

Back to Basics Truck

Think of the Maverick as a crossover with an exposed trunk. It’s built on a crossover unibody and at 4.5 feet, it’s one of the shortest beds on the market. That’s part of what I like about it. I wasn’t sizing up other trucks. In fact, I was looking to buy a Subaru Crosstrek until this truck was announced.

There are several little things about this truck that appealed to me as a buyer and serve as reminders of what trucks needlessly moved away from.

First, there’s the fact that it still requires a key to start and the stereo has knobs, both of which I see as advantages. I know where my keys are and I can keep my eyes on the road better when I turn down the volume.

Even with the Luxury package added to my XLT, it does not have fancy leather, faux wood paneling, a laptop-sized infotainment system, or screens sprouting out of seatbacks.

Ford Maverick XLT & Packages

GearJunkie already covered the Ford Maverick builds and features, so here I’m diving into the specific model I purchased and my ownership experience with it. It also seems to be the most common build based on polls in online owner forums.

Even with all these add-ons, the XLT package came with a sticker price of only $30,650 before destination and delivery charges.

The mid-level XLT trim includes cruise control, power mirrors, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, different cloth seating, and remote start.

Next, I added the FX4 off-road package (roughly $800), which includes a skid plate, lift and suspension, all-terrain tires, and drive modes for mud, sand, and snow. Similarly, I tacked on a full-size spare, which I consider essential for any realistic off-road/remote driving package.

I also added the Luxury Package. It includes remote start; heated seats, mirrors and wheel; a power-adjustable driver’s seat; and two extra USB/AV ports. One AV12 outlet is in the truckbed, with an extra LED light, and one faces the rear on the center console — a handy way to charge a laptop on the way to a new remote-work spot.

Because the spray-in liner was causing delivery delays, I chose the drop-in bed liner instead.

The 4K Tow Package doubled the standard Maverick’s tow capabilities and includes more cooling for the engine and transmission, as well as a trailer brake controller and low axle gear ratios. It also brings the horsepower up to 250, with 277 pound-feet of torque. Ford lists the payload capacity at 1,500 pounds, which is plenty for its size and compares nicely to larger trucks.

Ford Maverick storage under seat
The Maverick’s rear under-seat storage provides the peace of mind of a trunk. “Out of sight, out of mind, ” as they say; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

Driving the Maverick

The eight-speed transmission makes a unique noise. It’s not good or bad, but was a new sound to me. When making turns on residential streets, the engine seems eager to get above — or below — speeds around 16 mph.

On steep hills, the cruise control seems delayed to power when needed and then provides too much when it’s not. My guess is that is the automatic transmission trying to decide on the best gearing.

At higher speeds on road, the truck absorbs the bumps rather than bouncing me around like a “real” truck. The cab is quiet, too, although I did hear whistling when hit with strong crosswinds.

New to me, but not to Fords, are several safety features like the rest alert — indicated by a coffee mug icon light — which I triggered by driving down the middle of a road. A collision warning flashed when a pedestrian across the intersection looked like they were going to walk out in front of my lane.

The same warning did not detect a mountain lion that ran in front of me, which I assume was too low to be detected. I’m also a big fan of the auto high beams, which turn off when it detects another car’s lights, especially on steep winding roads.

At 2,500 miles, my real-world average gas mileage sits at 24.5 mpg.

Maverick Off-Road

I’ve only briefly tested Slippery mode in wet snow, and my main takeaway was that it cuts down on acceleration spin for those who like to stomp on the gas, so not as useful for those that are used to driving in those conditions. My addition of the FX4 Off-Road Package nixed the Eco and Sport modes.

I drove several dirt roads, including 13-mile Shelf Road in Colorado’s gold belt, to get a feel for the FX4 and lift. It definitely provides traction and cushion, but I rarely dared take the new truck over 25 mph. I found some deep ruts that I crawled in and out with at least one wheel off the dirt. Normal mode made it feel a little hairy, whereas Mud/Rut mode took away some acceleration and let me focus on steering.

I’m not saying I’ll start racing trucks off-road, but the Maverick gives me the confidence to drive to remote trailheads, even in bad weather.

Ford Maverick 2022 XLT off road switzerland trail
Off-road testing on Switzerland Trail, Colo.; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

All the Little Things

Once you have a vehicle, you begin to notice the day-to-day details that are often too subtle for reviews based on quick test drives and/or short media loans. Below is a quick run-through of my favorite, and least favorite, features of this truck.

Maverick Happy Surprises

The best part of the back seat is the storage underneath. Two compartments come with slots to divide them into smaller spaces, too.

The back windows come with a darker tint, but storing things under the seat provides the assurance of a trunk. Mine typically holds a rain jacket, ice scraper, travel towel, first-aid kit, and less typical items like a baseball glove and binoculars.

As much as I didn’t like the orange accents inside the car when I ordered it, I soon learned to accept — or ignore — them. However, I love that the silicon inlays in the console trays and cup holders are easy to remove and clean. And if you want to change out the orange, my guess is there’s a replacement for sale somewhere.

I appreciate the flat dashboard and the lack of chrome accents that can reflect the sun’s glare. The seats are comfortable on long drives, though anyone over, say 6’2″ may want to test drive one before buying. The back seats are less roomy for legs but maintain the crew cab’s height.

There are some cubbies and compartments that I never really use, but the center console is deep and the doors have nooks beyond the different-sized models to hold water bottles from several brands readers here know well.

Lastly, there’s the FlexBed truck design. My build came with sliding tie-down rails as well as the Ford FlexBed’s ample tie-downs. It’s proven capable to haul and secure a couple of gravel bikes and odd loads of camping gear.

There are several slots for sliding or resting boards in the bed to a section of the bed to better secure gear, with a DIY build option to make a mountain bike rack. For me, the board slot closest to the tailgate means I can keep gear or groceries close to the tail without them sliding around too much.

And yes, it passes the unofficial “truck test” of hauling plywood. Plywood sheets are longer than the bed, but you can rest them on the wheel wells and the tailgate, which can be secured at a 45-degree angle — just be sure to strap it in.

Forda Maverick 2022 FlexBed lumber and straps
The Maverick XLT FlexBed has multiple configurations for DIY lumber dividers, an LED bed light, and sliding tie-downs; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

Maverick Frustrations

The truck’s paint has held up this summer, but I’ve seen one chip get to metal already. That exposed how thin the paint can be, and it’s definitely something I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere. It probably helps that I don’t buff the paint every week because, well, it’s not a sports car.

By far my biggest peeve during testing was the rearview mirror. It is mounted below the safety monitors built in above it and caused me to duck down to better see around mountain turns or to track cars merging in from ramps. [Edit: It turned out the main stem was just stiff and, with two hands, I could adjust the main stem up roughly two inches and alleviate the perceived blind spot.]

Lastly, the truck uses your phone’s navigation apps to display on its 8-inch screen. If you decided to turn down the volume or fans, the display finds it necessary to show the adjusted level on the screen and blocks out the map.

So, I’ve learned to never turn down the music or AC/heat when looking for my next turn. I should be able to hear or feel those two adjustments using my other senses and displaying them seems so unnecessary.

Ford Maverick Mirror Sits Low
The author’s main knock with the low placement of the rearview mirror was resolved by adjusting the upper stem while not driving; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

The Buying Experience

This wasn’t just a new vehicle — it was my first in more than a decade. Buying a new vehicle in 2022 went against all the advice I’d accrued over my life. I bought a first-year model, new and sight unseen.

By 2021, used car prices were actually more inflated than new, by roughly $3,000. And like most new models, the Maverick XLT sold so fast it wasn’t on lots long enough to test drive.

One plus was that buying online allowed me to build my truck how I wanted it. During the 3 months of waiting for it to arrive, I’d already started thinking of ways I might customize it.

I also checked on other buyers’ builds — and buying experiences — on forums like Maverick Truck Club and its own subreddit. And while I plan to add a tent atop the truck bed, I’m quite happy with the truck as is.

Orders for the 2023 models are scheduled to open in September 2023. We know there will be a Tremor package and electrified versions coming soon.

M.T. Elliott
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M.T. Elliott is a Denver-based writer. He can be found wandering the city with his nose in a book or pouring craft beers. His trail runs and bike rides are easily distracted by birds. He’s about a 7 on fishing.