By on June 29, 2021

A few weeks ago, Ford took the wraps off of a new, “right-sized” pickup for the 2022 model year called the Maverick. The truck is different. For one, it’s a unibody design with four doors and a bed that’s integrated into the cab, not separate. For another, it’s a hybrid — which, I dunno. That seemed kind of brave, for Ford. It seemed brave enough to me, at least, to inspire me to take a closer look at the little truck’s specs … and that’s when I noticed that the new Maverick isn’t that little after all.

In fact, at 199.7 inches long, the new “compact” Maverick is a full two inches longer than the 1992 Ford F-150 “full-size” half-ton pickup.

You’ve probably heard it before. Heck — you’ve probably said it yourself.

“New cars are getting too big,” the common bromide goes. “They’re heavy and bloated and just no fun anymore. Why the new Honda Civic is bigger than the Accord used to be.”

And that’s true, of course, but it’s not all bad. A long, long time ago, one of Honda’s PR people told me that the Civic’s growth created an opportunity to introduce a new product in the market space that the Civic used to occupy, and presented Honda with a chance to reach more buyers.

That’s great for Honda, which is trying to grow its market share, but how does it play for the absolute undisputed king of the sales hill Ford F-150? For that, I want to take you back to 1992 and the Ford F-150 Nite.

Why the 1992 Nite? For one, 30 years seemed like a nice, round, “generational” sort of number. I remember the ‘92 Nite (specifically from that ad, above) as a truck I wanted to own.  In its day, that aerodynamic front end looked especially slick, and the neon stripe on black paint job combination really did give it a sporty feel, and — as a kid in high school daydreaming about his first car — I wanted one desperately.

Fast forward 30 years and my kid is out back wrenching on his first car (coincidentally also a ‘92 model, but a square-headlight Wrangler instead of an F-150), and I’m seriously weighing a 2022 Ford Maverick purchase against a 1992 F-150 Nite.

I mean that, too. After briefly toying with the idea of a patently wrong F-150 Nite I stumbled across in Connecticut (4WD, extended cab, flare side), I found a very, very right F-150 Nite a bit closer to home for about $20,000. Sharp-eyed readers will note that this is almost exactly the starting price of a brand-new Maverick.

Does it really make sense to compare a state-of-the-art hybrid Ford to a 30-year-old F-150 with a powertrain that has roots in the Nixon administration?

Welcome to my sickness.


The new Ford Maverick is significantly smaller than any current Ford truck offering. But, while it’s two inches longer than the ’92 “full-sized” (regular cab, short bed), it’s nearly two feet longer than a Ranger of the same vintage. Definitely in a different class of truck than the compact Ranger of yore, then — but it’s hard to think of the Maverick as anything but small when you see it next to an F-250 Super Duty. Similarly, it’s hard to think of an old (classic?) F-150 as “full-sized” when you see one next to a modern F-150.

So, they’re about the same length — but length is just one dimension. The 1992 Nite also has a 6′ 8″ bed, which gives it a lot more length than the 4′ 6″ Maverick bed. It’s also significantly wider than the Maverick at 79″, compared to the modern Ford’s 53″. That’s almost four square feet of additional real estate in the vintage Ford Nite but, more significantly, a whole lot more shoulder room for the front passengers in the Nite than you’re going to get in the Maverick.

Where does this new Maverick sit in the grand hierarchy of truck sizes? For me, it sits in that “late 1990s mid-size” truck segment that the Dodge Dakota used to occupy. I actually bought a ’98 Dakota new from Bob Wilson Dodge in Tampa, FL way back when, and that truck was just about perfect. It was big enough to get the job done, roomy enough for road trips, and narrow enough to feel usable on the occasional trip downtown.

And, sure, another truck buyer might put more weight in the Nite’s bed than either the Maverick or that old Dakota could safely handle, but the most punishing treatment I’d ever treat my truck to as a 21st Century suburbanite is a trip to Lowe’s now and then — and even that trip’s cargo would be mostly sailboat fuel, you know? And that may be A-OK by Ford, since fully 62 percent of the Maverick’s expected buyers aren’t “truck guys” (according to the survey at that link, Ford only expects about 17 percent — less than 1 in 5 — buyers to be replacing another truck when they buy their Maverick).

Based on my needs, the most important aspect of truck ownership is likely going to be whether or not I can parallel park it, and the Nite and Maverick are neck-and-neck there.

What about power and performance? The modern Maverick seems to have a slight edge. The ’92 Nite was powered by a version of Ford’s 5.0L OHV V8 that made 185 hp and gave back just 14 mpg city. By comparison, the base hybrid Maverick offers less hp, but more torque by virtue of some gearing trickery made possible by the electric traction motor and, well, math.  But, while neither truck is ever going to be mistaken for a GMC Syclone at the drag strip (another childhood favorite), the Maverick’s 40 mpg city rating is leaps and bounds ahead of the ’92, which is a huge plus in its favor.

Safety technology has come a long way in 30 years, as well, and the unibody Maverick undoubtedly offers a smoother, quieter, and more comfortable ride than its 30-year-old forebear could dream of.

All of which is to say that maybe Honda has it right. The bigger, badder F-150s Ford has been rolling out have certainly been successful. Like, really successful — Ford has sold more than three-quarters of a million of them. Each year. For the last 10 years. In 2018 alone, a record year for Ford, the Blue Oval sold 909,330 F-series trucks. Bloated or not, you don’t mess with that kind of success. And, while we’re at it, I recall the 1992 F-150 selling in decent numbers, too — so maybe they’ve got the right idea with this whole “controlled bloat” thing, and I’ve become convinced that it really does work.

So, is it the supposedly “green” and definitely more practical hybrid or the vintage pickup that gets my personal nod? Too soon to tell, honestly — but I firmly believe that the greenest car you can buy is one that’s already been built, So the ‘92 has that going for it, which is nice.

[Images: Ford]

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44 Comments on “The Ford Maverick Isn’t as Compact as It Seems...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “whether or not I can parallel park it”

    Or park it in the garage. The Maverick and Santa Cruz can probably fit.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    You stated the Maverick’s width as 53 inches, which seems off. That’s one narrow trucklet!

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Crew Cabs are longer than standard cabs? Who Knew?

    • 0 avatar

      Back in ’92 your buddies could just ride in the truck bed while drinking their Zimas and listening to Crash Test Dummies on their Panasonic radios.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        @Ajla as I was in High School south of Atlanta Garth Brooks (Friends in Low Places probably) and Natty Lites are a more fitting scene.

        Having said that, the first time I got hammered the drink was Zima. 19 year old Sailors couldn’t be choosy (until we were allowed to leave the base and discovered Tijuana anyway)

        I think Kareoke was involved and while I did get back to the barracks since the club was across the street I woke up not only in my bed and under the sheets but had somehow curled up under the mattress. Sailors gonna sailor I guess.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, there seems to be little mention that the Maverick is a crew cab being compared to a standard cab, kind of makes this article mute

      • 0 avatar

        *Moot. But fair point.

        • 0 avatar
          Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

          this is all just a moo point.

          Huh. A moo point?

          Yeah, it’s like a cow’s opinion, you know, it just doesn’t matter. It’s “moo”.

      • 0 avatar

        “kind of makes this article mute”

        There so many mistakes and misinformation in this article that you have to bring fact checker with you. What I would suggest TTAC contributors to do is to dramatically reduce size of article but write higher quality journalism. You are journalist, you are supposed to deliver real news, truth and only truth, not lies and propaganda, investigate, do not brainwash.

  • avatar

    Its nice to see this investigated and explained, as we have all been saying this for a while now.

  • avatar

    It is not really all that small in the grand scheme of things, but compared to modern full sized trucks, it is much more manageable for the driver and for everyone else around them. I doubt there are many full sized truck drivers who even care about anyone around them, but for those that do, I am sure other drivers will appreciate you owning a Maverick or Santa Cruz.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Cars ARE getting to be huge. I leased an IS300 because I wanted something with a n/a V6, AWD, and smallish. I had basically one choice within a reasonable price range (which, I can’t believe I am considering $43k reasonable – though leasing it made it more palatable).
    Parked next to my mom’s 2002 IS300 Sportcross, the older model was absolutely dwarfed.

    The Maverick was never going to be small and anyone who thought it would be was misled.

  • avatar

    I’ve always said my ’02 Dakota Quad Cab is the perfect size. It’s a tiny bit too long – it just fits in my 2 car garage but I don’t have an inch to spare. Literally the front bumper and rear hitch are almost touching the garage wall and garage door.

    Thus I’m getting a Santa Cruz mostly based on the fact that its about the smallest truck-like(?) vehicle available. In the past 25+ years of pickup truck ownership, first a ’96 Ranger Splash Extended Cab then my ’02 Dakota, I’ve yet to encounter a load I couldn’t haul with the tailgate down. Even full sheets of plywood fit in my tiny Ranger’s step-side bed, granted you had to put them in at an angle and leave the tailgate down but it worked. Based on what I see on the road 90% of truck beds are empty. Those that are full are commercial vehicles (landscaping, pressure washing, pool service, etc) and often still have a small trailer in tow.

    The Maverick is the same length as my old Ranger at 198″. My current Dakota is 215″ and the new Ranger is 210″. The Santa Cruz is 195″. The SC has more HP and TQ then my 4.7l V8 and gets city mileage that my Dakota can only manage on the highway going downhill. The SC and new Ranger have the same power levels, amazing what these little turbos can put out. I was all set to buy a new Ranger but then realized its bed height is basically the same as an F150 as show in the graphic above. The SC’s lift over (IE: tailgate down height) is only about inch lower then a new Ranger which is kind of depressing. My Dakota’s tailgate is 4″ lower at 28″ vs 32″. That’s my biggest complaint, what is good is a bed when you need a forklift or ramp to load things into it? Bags of mulch get heavier as I get older.

    • 0 avatar

      The SC’s tailgate is 32 inches high? What a gaffe on Hyundai’s part.

      • 0 avatar

        Yep verified via today when I asked the question during Hyundai’s “live showroom” interactive video session. The guy pulled out the tape measure and with the tailgate down it was 32″ off the ground.

        I’m guessing the reason is the spare tire and the “brunk” (in bed trunk). The brunk is several inches deep and represent what the load floor could have been? With an independent rear end I assumed it would be lower. I can’t imagine the rear diff is very big on these things as it can only take 50% of the torque.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This is one reason I want to keep my 09 Sedona minivan as long as possible. Those 4x8s can go inside (and even longer boards/trim), and the low liftover height makes it easy to load. For bags of mulch, I lay down a poly tarp; the only downside is that the interior needs to be aired out later :).

      And, at 202″ long and 69″ tall, it fits (barely) into my 1967 garage.

    • 0 avatar

      The Dakota really is a great size. There’s a grey one in my neighborhood I walk by all the time and lust after. I daresay even the last gen was a pretty good size. I had one as a rental once and I never felt weary of parking it or driving into tight areas.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d like to ask you a question about the “empty bed” business. When you pull up at a stop light next to me in my RCLB Silverado, do you consider my truck’s bed to be empty because you can’t see the 1000 lbs of steel plate that I’m hauling? It doesn’t take up much space, steel is dense, so it might *look* like I have an “empty bed”, but rest assured it is not.

  • avatar

    I’m still driving my 96 S-10 with the 7 foot 2 inch bed. My next truck will probably be a ridgeline or tacoma, but the SC is kind of interesting

  • avatar

    I have a tiny basement garage in my 1953 house. The last car I parked in it with any regularity (until the bicycles multiplied and took over) was my LS460, which was 200″ long. It just just just barely fit, which means the Maverick would just just just barely fit too. Any other truck with 4 doors? No chance in hell.

  • avatar

    I miss the step side/flare side body style, no longer available on full side pickups.

    • 0 avatar

      The other day I saw a regular cab, short box, step side (Flareside), 4×4 F150. It looked about 12th gen. It was so handsome and well proportioned. I was suitably jealous.

  • avatar

    Nice Caddyshack reference. Yeah, I’m old too. LOL

    I’m also interested in the Maverick for similar reasons (hauling “sailboat fuel” LOL!) I was also looking at a nice brick-nose F150 on BringATrailer this past weekend, but decided to drop that thought due to the utter lack of safety tech/equipment on that truck (not even airbags). I wish the Maverick were offered in an extended cab (rather than a full double cab) and a longer bed… but if I’m honest with myself, I don’t really NEED a larger bed. The Maverick is an intriguing proposition… I may just bite. Depending on availability, price gouging, etc.

  • avatar

    Ford makes another truck which is not full sized. Spec out a Ranger and the price is actually somewhat better considering what you are getting. Odd pricing structure, works for those who do not do maths.

  • avatar

    “Does it really make sense to compare a state-of-the-art hybrid Ford to a 30-year-old F-150 with a powertrain that has roots in the Nixon administration?”

    you mean, comparing the state of the art hybrid Ford Maverick to a 30 year old F-150 that will fold like a cheap suit should you so much as tap the bumper of the Silverado in front of you, let alone get into a real accident.

    • 0 avatar

      Was Nixon administration really responsible for engine design for FMC?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Nixon may be a stretch, but given the timeline of Robert McNamara at Ford and his subsequent gig as Secretary of Defense, the Kennedy and/or Johnson administration seems more likely.

        The Windsor V8 certainly turned out better than his later “designs” in Vietnam.

      • 0 avatar

        I think Jo’s attempt was to imply that it was designed during the Nixon administration. However it predates that since the 302 was introduced for the 68 model year, but if you want to talk about the roots that would go back to the 1962 model year and the 221 version.

  • avatar

    After Ford dropped this turd on their unsuspecting fan boys, why give them another chance?

  • avatar

    [quote]Why the 1992 Nite? For one, 30 years seemed like a nice, round, “generational” sort of number. I remember the ‘92 Nite (specifically from that ad, above) as a truck I wanted to own.[/quote]

    It’s at this point I realized that the author and I have probably never shared a circle on a Venn diagram :-)

    Our ’15 Town and Country can haul 10-20 4×8 sheets, or almost anything else bulky much better / easier than most trucks, and do it in the rain. I can’t imagine there’s much out there that the Maverick COULD haul that the minivan can’t. Plus, up to 7 passengers. It’s ~4 inches longer, has power sliding doors, etc, etc. The Pentastar has plenty of power – I can outrun a lot of compact cars with all the torque, etc.

    Sure, the Maverick wins on MPG, but I’m sure 30 mpg could easily be had with a slightly smaller engine and maybe even 35 mpg.

    Growing up, I just never got the whole “I want a truck” – to me, they were a “I *HAVE* to get one of these ugly truck things for work that drives like a boat” compromises you sometimes had to make when you were adulting. The default “want” was always a faster, sportier car. I’m still that way.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      I too long to put another minivan in our driveway. We have had 8 (4 Chrsyler and 4 GM). However minivans are no longer mini. And they have become quite expensive.

      My better half has actually taken to researching the Maverick. If the price point is right, then she may insist on one.

  • avatar

    All anyone needs is 1 bench seat and a machine gun mount.

  • avatar

    No self-respecting Fusion owner would trade up to the Maverick. Why would I want to trade in a modern sedan for a truck that would not even handle as well a vintage 1988 Pontiac 6000 sedan?

  • avatar

    I bought my last new truck in 2003, a Ford Ranger . I am still driving it today 18 years later. I wanted to buy a new ranger but was let down when I found out it is not available as a club cab or single cab. I need a club cab not crew cab, & I need a 6foot bed not a 4foot or 4 1/2 foot bed. Car makers need to make there trucks for the way people use them. I saw a video on the maverick and they spent 5 minutes talking about how you can put a bicycle in the back of the maverick. But you have to take off the front tire so it will fit, and they were say this like it was a great achievement. I don’t want power windows and I don’t want a crew cab with a 4 1/2 foot bed. Please keep my truck simple and stop over buildind and under thinking every detail

  • avatar

    I am one of the many who chose a full-size truck solely for interior space. At 6’8″, 220 lbs, and built like Kevin Durant, I appreciate the shoulder space and lateral leg room a bench front seat provides in my 2019 F-150. I traded in a 2017 Hyundai Tucson, which was a fine AWD SUV, but required me to scrunch up in order to get in and comfortable. At least in the F-150 I don’t feel like getting into a clown car. The biggest challenge for me was finding a bench seat model that wasn’t a straight up fleet truck – benches are as scarce as stick shifts nowadays!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I do like the Maverick a lot especially the hybrid but I also like the longer bed, bench seat, and shorter length of my 2008 Ranger XL regular cab. If I were buying new I would definitely get a Maverick but I might get the XLT with the nicer interior and a few more standard features than the XL but I could live with the XL. I don’t really need or want a crew cab but I like the Maverick.

  • avatar

    Here’s another perhaps more relatable comparison:
    Wheelbase 121.1 in (3,076 mm)
    Length 199.7 in (5,072 mm)
    Width 72.6 in (1,844 mm)
    Height 68.7 in (1,745 mm)
    Bed Length 54.5″

    EXPLORER SPORTRAC (1st Generation)
    Wheelbase 125.9 in (3,198 mm)
    Length 205.9 in (5,230 mm)
    Width 71.8 in (1,824 mm)
    Height 70.5 in (1,791 mm)
    70.4 in (1,788 mm) (2003 4WD)
    70.1 in (1,781 mm) (2001–02)
    Bed Length 50″

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