Opinion: The Ford Maverick Makes Me Shrug

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
opinion the ford maverick makes me shrug

The word of the week has been Maverick.

The 2022 Ford Maverick has gotten plenty of coverage on this site and elsewhere, plenty of buzz on Twitter, and every auto journalist I know, self included, has strained to find the best joke referencing either Top Gun or a ’90s Western comedy starring Mel Gibson and James Garner (both flicks are excellent, by the way).

I want to be excited by this truck. I should be excited by this truck. And yet, my prevailing feeling about it could be summed up by a gif of a shrug.

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think the truck, based on its specs, will be bad. Far from it. I’m impressed by the specs and the pricing and I like the looks and I suspect the truck will drive just fine. Ford appears to have done a wonderful job. And I have little doubt the Maverick will be a hot seller.

Nor am I against compact trucks in general. I think there was a gap in the market, and Ford and Hyundai are getting there first — Hyundai with the upcoming Santa Cruz. I’m excited to see other makes follow.

I suspect my indifference may be related to my own biases and interests — I am just more of a sports-car (sedan, coupe, hatch, whatever body style) guy than a pickup man. And I live in a part of Chicago that is not truck friendly, to boot — if I were still a suburbanite, I might be more into trucks. I do start playing with trucks on consumer configurators after visiting family that lives on a farm.

There’s always danger in turning personal preference into an opinion post, and I am flirting with it, I know. But I also suspect that I am in a weird minority here. Most folks seem to love the Maverick. A few hate it. Others point out that today’s “compact” truck is bigger than the trucks of yore as a way of also noting size bloat throughout the industry.

The more I think on it, the more I realize why I am indifferent, and it goes beyond personal taste. Personal preference is best expressed in a tweet, not a post. My real issue isn’t that the Maverick doesn’t excite me because sports cars are more likely to rev my engine, so to speak, but because it seems that only trucks are really exciting these days. And maybe some EVs, like the Mach-E.

Think about it. Over the past two to three years, what have been the most exciting unveilings? Ford’s F-150, Bronco, Bronco Sport, Mach-E, and now Maverick. Hyundai’s Santa Cruz. Corvette. Maybe Civic and Land Rover Defender? Possibly the upcoming Nissan Z, just announced for August.

Some of that is related to COVID. A lot of it is related to the market shift towards boring-but-useful crossovers, and the fact that market realities and regulations make it harder for automakers to justify business cases for “fun” cars and trucks.

Maybe the Maverick is a big deal all on its own, independent of the market, and I am just off-base here. But I can’t help but shake the feeling that at least part of the excitement surrounding the Maverick isn’t because it marks the return of the small truck or because it’s impressive on paper. Those things are both true, of course, but I also wonder if part of the excitement is because there just aren’t as many “fun” things to get fired up about. So instead we focus on a well-done vehicle that exists for utilitarian purposes.

I do understand why certain consumers — those who actually need/use these trucks — get excited. An affordable truck that can make your job easier, or make it easier to indulge your hobbies, is nothing to sneeze at.

It’s not that I think you shouldn’t be excited about Maverick. Rather, I think it’s a bit sad that there aren’t more, other types of vehicles to get excited about right now.

Hey, at least I can geek out over another Ford soon enough. I just need to find some fresh-squeezed O.J. references.

Still, the relative lack of heart-pounding concepts and hotly anticipated enthusiast vehicles might explain my indifference even more than my hit-or-miss relationship with trucks.

Either that, or I am just … a maverick.

[Images: Ford]

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5 of 136 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 13, 2021

    Being front wheel drive it is not as critical that it be AWD. For most people in a snowy area front wheel drive will be the same as driving any front wheel drive vehicle in the snow versus driving a rear wheel drive only vehicle. Unless you are driving off road a lot it is a waste of money for most to buy AWD. For 12 years I owned a 4 wheel drive truck that I only engaged the 4 wheel drive about 6 times. Front wheel drive works fine for me driving on snowy roads and if the weather is too bad I am not going to drive. Anyway my wife has an AWD CRV so no need to have 2 AWD especially since she is retired and stays at home.

    • See 1 previous
    • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Jun 14, 2021

      @Dan I've been driving my 2wd S-10 for 530k and 25 years, even with snow tires and weight in the back you can look forward to 20 or so white knuckle commutes per year, awd is nice.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 14, 2021

    I had a 99 S-10 extended cab with a 5 speed manual for over 20 years and yes it was not great in the snow but the front wheel drive Honda Accord and Ford Taurus that I had were unstoppable in the snow. The Accord drove thru the worst snow that Kentucky and Ohio had in decades during January and February 1994 with no problems even when Interstate 71 and 75 was closed for days. Front wheel drove with traction control will work just as good as an AWD or 4 wheel drive most of the time and the few times that you need it are not worth the extra cost and extra maintenance costs for the majority of people. Off road is much different and if you are driving a lot off road then AWD or 4 wheel drive is worth the extra cost. Just driving on regular paved roads to go to the store or go to work all you need is front wheel drive. For many that drive a lot the hybrid would be worth it because of the better gas mileage and the low cost for it in the Maverick especially for a pickup even with a smaller bed. The Maverick is a perfect replacement for a sedan and can do multiple tasks well hauling items that are too big and dirty to put in a crossover or sedan. The Maverick will sell well especially the hybrid which gets as good MPGs as most compact and subcompact sedans.

    • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Jun 14, 2021

      You're probably right, FWD would be a vast improvement

  • Carlson Fan I think it is pretty cool & grew up with a '75 Ford window van so I can attest to their utility. $60K is a lot for any vehicle and I'm not convinced EV's are ready for prime time for a number of reasons. It would make an awesome 2nd or 3rd vehicle in a multi-car household but again the price would keep most from considering it.I agree with the other comments that those who have to have it will buy it and then sales will drop off. Offer a panel version for the commercial market, that could have possibilities.
  • Wjtinfwb Panther Black? or Black Panther? Shaped like a decade old Ford detectives sedan? Seems like an odd way to send out your marquee car...
  • Kwik_Shift Instead of blacked, how about chromed? Don't follow the herd.
  • Carlson Fan Nicest looking dash/gage cluster ever put in any PU truck. After all these years it still looks so good.
  • Wheatridger Correct me if I'm wrong, but has the widescreen digital dash usurped the space formerly occupied in every other car by an HVAC vent? I see one prominent vent well right of center, where there should be two. I rely on twin driver's side vents to warm my hands on cold mornings, and I wouldn't give that up for more screen area.