By on December 22, 2021

Ford

It’s that time of year again – time for our best and worst cars of 2021. Chris and I are the ones who most consistently get test cars, so it will be just the two of us putting our heads together. We’ve each picked one best and one worst car, as well as a few that deserve a mention either way.

Tim:

My best car is actually a truck, and (spoiler alert) Chris and I agreed on the vehicle that should get the nod. Try as I might to come up with an alternative, I found the Ford Maverick to be the best new vehicle I drove in 2021.

The little truck just does everything well. It’s very good on-road, can tow and haul well, can go off-road (a bit), offers a hybrid powertrain, and is affordable. Ford hit a winner with this one.

Honorable mentions go to not one, not two, but three other Fords – the Ford Bronco Sport, Ford Bronco, and Ford Mustang Mach-E. While my first drive of the Bronco Sport came in 2020, I got significant time with both engines in 2021 and came away impressed – and the Badlands can do more off-road than I’d ever expected. As for the full-size Bronco, well, Ford got it right and will be giving Jeep some sleepless nights.

The Mach-E shouldn’t have the Mustang name, but otherwise, it’s a pretty good overall package, and I think it will help usher the market towards EVs.

As for non-Fords, I liked the Jeep Wrangler 4XE a lot, and the same goes for the Hyundai Santa Cruz. The 4XE adds silent torque to the Wrangler experience, while the Santa Cruz is a delight to drive, even if its utility doesn’t match the Maverick. I also dug the performance of the BMW M4 Competition, if not the toothy grille and the annoying seats.

2022 Infiniti QX55. Image: Infiniti

As for the worst cars, I struggled. None of the cars I drove in 2021 were absolutely awful. I found the GMC Yukon to be a bit hard on the eyes, but it does a lot of other things well. Infiniti’s QX80 and Nissan Armada are aging, and the QX80 gave me some electronic fits, but neither one totally sucked.

Nah, the worst I car drove wasn’t actually bad, just disappointing – that’s the Infiniti QX55. Infiniti put a lot of effort into it and came up just a tad short. It’s not an awful vehicle by any means, but Infiniti promised more and underdelivered.

Chris:

Editorman Tim and the powers that be in Toronto have cracked the digital whip, ordering me to write a few lines about the best and worst cars I’ve driven this year. I could loophole my way out of this by talking about the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country with the dying transmission that I sold to Carmax in the spring – or I could deliver sonnets on how our 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer (creatively known as hashtag Failblazer) has continued to make me dread the sight of my OBDII reader all while I prepare it to be my teenager’s car come spring, but I suppose the idea is to discuss the best and worst NEW cars I’ve driven this year.

Well, as for worst – I’m hesitant to use that term, but the almighty algorithm doesn’t rank stories with the mealymouthed phrase “car that was the most meh” particularly well. My most memorable automotive fail was burying myself deep in the woods with the 2021 Ram TRX earlier in the year – but that wasn’t a failing of the car.

After all, I’ve driven somewhere around 93 different cars this year – not including cars I personally own. Some are better than others, certainly, but if I had to choose one that meets the above definition – I really dislike the Toyota C-HR. So much so that I penned a Deathwatch soon after Toyota revealed the similarly-sized (but traditionally-styled) Corolla Cross. The C-HR (and I realize the irony of this appearing close to the unkillable paid advertisements for the Tundra that plague this entire site) is a weirdly-styled runabout that doesn’t have much rear headroom. It drives … fine, I guess. But there are so many better choices in that price/size range that I just can’t recommend the CH-R.

2018 Toyota C-HR profile - Image: Toyota

Now that the bandage has been ripped, let’s consider the best car I’ve driven this year. There are a few new arrivals that I’d seriously consider killing my credit score for.

Runners-up include:

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime – the plug-in hybrid family hauler, if you can find one without some absurd markup, is a marvelous package that is probably the best bet for the flyover country eco-conscious until battery technology and charging infrastructure get where they need to be.
  • Nissan Frontier – Nissan was overdue to replace the old Frontier (though it was still a damned good little truck) and they’ve built a winner. Good power, good comfort front and rear, and a capable platform on-road and off.

My best car of the year is, oddly, the car that just left my driveway last week. Despite my checkered past with the brand, I’ve found myself obsessively pricing different option packages to digitally create the ideal version for my lifestyle. Further, I’d been checking online inventories of local dealerships for the past couple of months to actually get an in-person glimpse.

You guessed it – the best car I drove in 2021 has to be the Ford Maverick. Yes, some of that comes from my being cheap – the mythical $20,000 MSRP of the base trim that will never actually appear in any dealer inventory is alluring. But for somewhere between $25k and $30k, you can get a comfortable family vehicle that just happens to have an open bed in the back. My too-tall-teens had plenty of room in the back seat of the Maverick behind yours truly and my bride.

Yeah, the interior trim is cheap. No, it’s not as quiet inside as an S-Class. I don’t care. It is an unassuming runabout that does what it needs to do well.

The fuel economy? I haven’t yet driven the 40+ MPG hybrid version, but the more powerful EcoBoost Maverick managed right around 26 MPG in mixed driving during my week, which is more than acceptable.

If Ford can figure out the supply chain, the Maverick will soon be one of the most common sights on our roads. I applaud Hyundai for being first to market with the similarly-sized Santa Cruz, but the value and economy just aren’t there compared to the Ford Maverick.

[Images: Ford, Infiniti, Toyota]

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70 Comments on “TTAC’s Best and Worst Cars Of 2021...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ve read the RAV4 Prime is actually quite the sleeper.

    And I’d probably agree with the Maverick being the car of the year, if for no other reasons than 1) it’s a truck that shares the road well with non trucks, and 2) it’s not unreasonably priced. Here’s hoping Ford puts a hopped up engine in it and creates a Lightning version.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      How well will the Maverick sell? Try and get one. The demand and orders are certainly there.

      In 1964 Ford took the underpinnings of the Falcon, added a new body style and created a sales phenomena.

      In 1990 Ford took the underpinnings of a small pick-up (the Ranger) and changed the bed to include back seats and a hatch, and created another sales phenom the SUV market.

      In 2021 Ford took the underpinnings of a small/medium SUV (the Escape) reversed the above process by removing the hatch/cap and adding a small bed and look to have created another sales phenom and perhaps a whole new market/range for North America, the small, unibody/ FWD or should we say the ‘urban’ pick-up.

      Credit where it is due. Every twenty odd years Ford actually seems to get the market just right.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Toyota is so short on RAV4 Prime supply that it won’t sell them anywhere except the zero-emission mandate states. So we get none in Washington. But someone a block away from me recently went to the trouble of buying one from California and bringing it up here. I haven’t seen him since but want to ask him about it.

      It looks to me like far and away the best thing in the 5-seat CUV segment.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree

      It is. And, as a matter of fact, Lexus is getting a version of it, too. The new NX, which is just hitting dealerships, will have two hybrid variants. The NX 350h will have the same basic powertrain as the RAV4 Hybrid, while the NX 450h+ will have the RAV4 Prime’s powertrain, and with a much more upmarket interior. I’d seriously consider one if I were still in the market.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I think the Maverick is one of the most significant vehicles to come out in years. Both the fact that it’s a usable, desirable truck that costs $25k, can park in only one parking space and can maneuver through traffic, and that it’s (available as) a 40mpg hybrid without any real tradeoffs other than towing, are huge developments in what ordinary people are actually likely to drive. Motor Trend gave Truck of the Year to the Rivian, but that vehicle – as much as I’d buy one tomorrow if they didn’t have a two-year waitlist – just doesn’t matter to the overall scheme of things anything like the Maverick does. I just hope Ford can make enough of htem.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree

      Agreed. The Maverick was a stroke of genius from Ford (which, really, historically has been very good at creating new segments). It will be interesting to see if other automakers throw their hats into the ring.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It is amazing that the Maverick is such a “hot” vehicle. For years manufacturers said there was no market for a cheap small truck. That may have been typical “up sell” marketing.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      Agreed. I get why Rivian gets the nod for TOTY because technically it is the first mass produced long range EV truck on sale. And this is significant for the whole industry.
      But the starting price is way above the average new car price. Heck all the selections for Car, SUV and Truck of the year had an MSRP over $60K which puts these selections way above the budget of many Americans.

      What about the Maverick? It’s practical, capable, frugal and affordable. It brings a Hybrid powertrain for cheap, it gets up to 42 MPG, room for 5 and some other solutions pretty much unheard of on any truck. And we all know Ford will sell a ton of these. But MT did not consider these strengths high enough to give it the nod.

      In summary: I get why the R1T gets the throphy, but I think the Maverick’s qualities far outweigh the R1T’s

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      It will be interesting to see the sales figures for the Maverick going forward. I think you will see perpetually low inventory. I live in Detroit and have seen exactly one of them on the ground. You are dead wrong if you think Ford isn’t a little bit worried about this eating into more profitable full sized truck sales. As the author stated, you wont see them sold in lower and base trims for a while in any significant numbers. The chip shortage means that only the largest most profitable vehicles are being produced at full steam. It is a good problem to have for Ford when it comes to the Maverick. Customers buying low $20k faux trucks vs $50k barges is not a trend Ford is likely eager to see come to fruition.

      That being said, I wish every truck buyer would get on board yesterday. Hope springs eternal.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        You’re right about Ford protecting the F-150.

        No way they’ll let the Maverick steal sales from it, so they’ll gladly accept a few conquest sales but you can be sure the dealers will direct customers to the Ranger or F-150 “for a few dollars more”.

        We should expect Ford to throttle production of the Maverick through 2022.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          I doubt there will be much cross-shopping between F150 buyers and Maverick buyers. We might see some people “stepping down’ from full-sized trucks. If anything, the Maverick could erode Ranger sales.
          I’m betting that Ford hopes the Maverick is a conquest sales leader which they then can encourage them to move into larger pickups .

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Its interesting how successful the Maverick has been in such a short time vs the other gigantic “small” trucks which started coming back around 2016 (Colorado, Ranger). I realize a number of marques tried the hybrid approach ten years ago with really only Toyota and to an extent Ford succeeding prior to this point. I predict this will be the way going forward because EV is a bomb in more ways than one:

    “In the video on YouTube with English subtitles, Tuomas Katainen explains his 2013 Model S was in the shop for more than a month for service. When he heard back from the shop, they told him they couldn’t repair his car, and the only option was to change the entire battery cell.

    Katainen said the fix would’ve cost him upwards of €20,000 ($22,500). He told the dealership that was absurd, and he donated the car to a Finnish YouTube channel Pommijätkät, whose name literally translates to ‘Bomb Dudes.’

    Instead of fixing the Model S, 30 kg (66 pounds) of dynamite was strapped to the car for one explosive show. Showing his frustration, Katainen even had a doll of Tesla’s founder Elon Musk in the driver’s seat.

    Multiple angles of high-definition, slow-motion cameras captured the epic explosion (this time, it wasn’t spontaneous as we’ve noted before ((read: here & here)).”

    https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/tesla-owner-blows-car-after-discovering-cost-fix-battery

    There was some speculation Lord Musk dumped his TSLA shares now because the MY12/13s will start to be at the end of their service lives and more people will be finding out about the $22,000 or thereabouts repair cost. Not that it would end Tesla, but the stock may be in for a bumpy ride in 2022.

    Now maybe a few will wake up to see EV is akin to the “phones” in the late 00s to today, designed for a limited intended lifespan not only because of battery degradation but because the technology becomes obsolete by the time the model is on sale. They are taking everything to a rentier model on steroids, so now do you see why the WEF’s concepts are so accurate? Please stop rejecting them out of hand because Trump this or “elections” that, the intended goals are very obvious. This is re-feudalization by design, which first started after 2008 (which was around the time the “phones” were introduced was it not? Coincidence?).

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I mean, anything’s possible, but so far the evidence you cite is one guy with an expensive repair job to an eight-year-old luxury car. E39 M5s used to deep-six their transmissions in the first few months back in the early aughts if you got unlucky – one of the reasons I decided not to buy one at the time (which I still regret to this day).

      And Lord Musk has been exercising options at the same time he’s been selling stock, so the overall amount he holds in Tesla has actually gone _up_ over the same period, which makes that a pretty silly rumor.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        So if I am interpreting this correctly, your argument is the Model S is the equivalent of the $100K S-Klasse AMGs and 750ILs where its owners expect them to lose 90% of their value out of warranty and likely blow up figuratively speaking in 5-10 years? That’s an interesting argument though I doubt most Model S owners understood this and I don’t think it was marketed as such.

        Also interesting that Musk is creating a selloff then exercising options to buy at support. I do wonder how legal that is for a insider to do, feels fishy to me from an SEC standpoint.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          The stories I’ve read all mention several paragraphs in that he’s selling enough shares to cover the tax burden of exercising those options. No one leads with this; it’s not clicky enough.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          Not really. The argument is that a single car bricking its engine eight years after its production isn’t much of an indictment of the entire model run – much less that of all cars that share its type of drivetrain. Hell, based on that logic, the Range Rover I grew up driving means that every single ICE-powered vehicle in the planet should have exploded by now.

          And that brick being expensive to fix in an expensive car isn’t particularly susprising.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The cost of fixing the bricked car being 2/3rds of its value is a tad ridiculous, especially when that 2/3rds is north of 20 grand which is not a figure many can write a check for and move on. Also at $60K, its pretty close to mid trim truck/SUV/CUV territory and not in supercar status, its expensive enough that it should not be able to completely fail in eight years unless wrecked or abused. Otherwise its equivalent to an Iphone whose screen is cracked or whose battery won’t take a charge and must be disposed of… that might be tolerated for a $1K product but not $60K. Not at all “green” either.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            You’re again trying to pretend that this is an issue endemic to the entire model line, not a single example of a single car (in its first production year). Are you seriously going to argue that there’s not been a single Mercedes CLS or BMW 550 that hasn’t had some sort of catastrophic failure after eight years of ownership?

            And let’s be honest: it’s not and never was a $60k car. The promised base Model S was a unicorn; actually available models were occasionally $70k, but more commonly $80-100k, competing with either full-size sedans or the high-end performance versions of the mid-sizers from Germany.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Astigmatism

            You’re right in one example does not mean all models, no different than the dozen to two dozen ones which caught fire where the other 100K or so units have not. I suppose time will tell on the lifespan of the early Model S batteries, I can’t imagine there was not an intended engineering lifetime just not sure what it was.

            The handful of Model S owners I have personally encountered were not the type who would be in the category of those dropping $100-150K on an AMG S-Klasse a V12 BMW 7-series. They were the type who were evangelists of the technology and they had faith in it. I didn’t pose the question, how would you feel if it completely died before 100K miles and would cost 20 large to fix, but if I had I’d think at least half would have been horrified.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      How is this any different from Toyota’s sludging issue, Porsche’s IMS issue, Honda’s transmission issue, or any number of other issues that leave an 8 year old car buyer with a repair that costs more than the vehicle is worth? IIRC a bunch of people have had issues with failed Hyundai engines due to an error in the manufacturing process. That’s certainly a valid issue.

      Obviously you should call out any manufacturer for problems but just be sure to hold them all to the same standard.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I won’t speak to a Porsche’s remediation cost, but replacement motors and transaxles do not run $20K which is why those issues may be griped about but people are not so angry they want to literally destroy them. If Tesla could get the replacement costs down to $5K, it would be a non issue. When the hybrids first came out I believe battery replacement was several thousand dollars but 1. the costs came down dramatically later and 2. the Prius can still function without a battery whereas I’m not sure the Tesla could in this case.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “but replacement motors and transaxles do not run $20K ”

          On $100k cars? Are you sure about that for OEM parts at dealer labor rates? IIRC a OEM replacement engine for a V-8 S class or 7 series is $16k just for parts.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Astigmatism seems to have made the argument the Model S in 12/13 was in league with the German super sedans. I *do not* make that argument, in MY13 the base MSRP was $60,080 and it went up to $95K. The Lexus GS350 started at 47K (50 for AWD) and C&D’s example I saw online was 60K without the F-sport package, so essentially price wise the base Model S is in the ballpark with a loaded GS350. Average mileage over 8 years is 96K @ 12K per year, so if my Lexus blows a transmission or motor that will suck but it could be replaced for several thousand dollars at an indy.

            Evidently the Tesla is running over 20K, so until that money is spent its at scrap value. So what is an owner to do? Find someone to buy it for as much as I can get and they will spend the 20K to get into a Model S for $25-30K? The economics might work for the second owner since EV and ICE work completely differently, but the original Model S owner is completely screwed – an owner who did not sign up for a 750IL like ownership experience.

            The Lexus owner can write a check, I see an interchangeable motor from an RC on Cart-part.com with 44K miles, a 3.5L at August Pohl Auto Parts in Benton-Harbor, MI for $2,500 (freight would be at least $500 to Pgh) and I could probably get it installed for about $3K depending on how annoying the newer Lexuses are with dealer only tools. So call it $6,500, according to MMR a running ’13 GS350 is worth about $20K wholesale @ 100K and therefore worth fixing. The Model S is worth about $29K, but will *cost* $20K to get it to be worth $29K. The overall point it the original Model S owner is going to lose 80-90% if they sell it to be refurbished because the repair is cost prohibitive (or spend 20K out of pocket) whereas the Lexus owner can retain 30-40% depending on trim on a repair they can afford to make.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo2

            You’re comparing a lot of apples and oranges to try and make a very tenuous point.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            And you sir seem to think its acceptable to have a $60-95K product completely fail in roughly eight years with a high remediation cost whereas I see it as incredible waste and insulting to the owner.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Official ajla list:
    -Best of the year : Maverick, for all the reasons already discussed

    – 2nd place: Civic hatchback. Love it. Only knock is that the nice trims are expensive and the lower trims are too noisy.

    – 3rd place: Santa Cruz. I’ve been enamoured by it since its release but Hyundai needs to tweak the trims a bit and figure out how to offer a factory tow package.

    -4th place: IS500. Nothing ground breaking but it’s probably the last Lexus V8 car to exist under $125k. Too bad it’s nearly impossible to buy one.

    Worst of the year: Mazda MX-30. Range and power that would have been acceptable in 2015. Even if you don’t care about range or acceleration, unless Mazda is signing your paycheck why would you buy this over any other EV?

    2nd worst: Toyota Tundra. Still only exists for people that refuse to buy an “American” truck but now has added ugliness.

    3rd worst: GTI. It isn’t ruined, but there’s a lot on this new generation that seems like a downgrade.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Civic would’ve been a contender, but I haven’t driven it yet. I was scheduled in one, but it got hit. So I have to wait a bit longer now.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I’d swap out the Cadillac Blackwings as a joint 4th place over the IS500, but I can’t really argue with anything else on your list.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Wow, forgot about the MX-30. Good call.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I drove a Santa Cruz a few days ago. I ran into a friend of mine and he had bought one of the first ones available. I liked it, but one of the turnoffs (to me) was the lack of any decent COLORS. My friend’s is white, which I normally dislike, but in the terrible colors the SC comes in, it, and black are by far the best. I see one daily that is in that odd greenish grey color, called “Sage Grey” on the Hyundai.com website. It almost makes the no longer available FCA “Destroyer Grey” look good. Almost.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Re the Maverick:
    Lots of people like trucks.
    Lots of people don’t like paying for gasoline.
    Lots of people don’t like buying a vehicle that costs more than their annual salary.

    Congrats to Ford for being the first to figure this out, but I could have told them that 10 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      And plenty of people under six feet tall want a pickup whose bed they can load and unload without a stepladder.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “And plenty of people under six feet tall want a pickup whose bed they can load and unload without a stepladder”

        The thing at the rear is called a tailgate. It opens!

        LOL

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          My wife can basically reach the read corners of the bed of an F-150 with the tailgate down. If she wants to actually load and unload the bulk of the bed, she has to literally climb up into it and load stuff around her as she backs her way out of the bed.

        • 0 avatar
          Drew8MR

          I rented a 2021 Silvarado in UHaul trim and I couldn’t touch the floor of the bed over the side rails and I’m 5′ 8″.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      It will be interesting to see how well the Maverick sells. Will it be the greatest money maker in Ford history or will it be the brown, diesel manual wagon of the B&B world. Something everyone says they want but no one will actually buy.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        How well will the Maverick sell? Try and get one. The demand and orders are certainly there.

        In 1964 Ford took the underpinnings of the Falcon, added a new body style and created a sales phenomena.

        In 1990 Ford took the underpinnings of a small pick-up (the Ranger) and changed the bed to include back seats and a hatch, and created another sales phenom the SUV market.

        In 2021 Ford took the underpinnings of a small/medium SUV (the Escape) reversed the above process by removing the hatch/cap and adding a small bed and look to have created another sales phenom and perhaps a whole new market/range for North America, the small, unibody/ FWD or should we say the ‘urban’ pick-up.

        Credit where it is due. Every twenty odd years Ford actually seems to get the market just right.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          You forgot 1997…when they gave a half ton 4 doors and a 5 foot bed and made pickups family vehicles and the current truck market was born.

          • 0 avatar
            eng_alvarado90

            *It was 2000 when the CC Half Ton pickup was born.

            Also worth mentioning. 1985 may be the only time Ford didn’t take some existing underpinnings to launch a sedan that re-defined the way midsized FWD sedans looked. Everyone owned or knew someone who owned one of those back in the era.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Art Vandelay – you beat me to it. The SuperCrew was responsible for the boom in full sized truck sales.

        • 0 avatar

          Arthur, you forgot to mention minivan. Ford created the new segment albeit under Chrysler brand.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Toyota C-HR is quite miserable compared to its predecessor the Matrix that was a cleaner design and available with awd.
    I’d take a Fiat 500X over one since it’s in the same entry cuv price range and available with awd.

    The Maverick is the Swiss Army knife of vehicles. The perfect second or even first vehicle for most people be they families, tradesmen, small businesses or the ski and surfer set.
    Where’s Subaru with a new Baja or Brat?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Lust after? Lexus LC. Real-world commuter/errand-runner beastie? Ford Maverick. Next.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Best: Every Volkswagen

    Worst: Anything non-European

  • avatar
    Tirpitz

    As I’ve said before I have a hybrid XLT Maverick on order. Probably be another 5-6 months before it turns up. The entire 2022 run of hybrids is now sold out and Ford said this week they will open the 2023 order book in mid August 2022. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 2022 turbo 2.0 model sell out before then as well. The current signs point to Ford being able to sell every Maverick they can make. The last time I owned a Ford was the early 90’s so they are getting a customer back to the brand. And I’ve never owned a pickup.

    I wanted an inexpensive car and it really came down to the Maverick and the Civic hatch. If the Ford proves unreliable I may regret the choice. Time will tell. I don’t need all the expensive tech and the Maverick harkens back to more simple vehicles with less things to break. Here’s hoping that the hybrid power train proves as reliable as the early Ford hybrids.

    It will also be interesting to see if anyone else goes down the small/cheap truck path. I’d think if Toyota did something similar it would sell like hot cakes even if it was several thousand more than the Maverick. I will also be interested to see what Ford does to the 2023 Maverick pricing given the inflation running through the economy.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    The more I look at Maverick the more I like it. Some quibble about the interior appointments and plastics, but I consider this a feature not a bug. Most hard plastic is actually long-wearing. I appreciate the vehicle for it’s honesty. No fake leather patterns and stitching, no “piano black” surfaces to capture every smudge and speck of dust, no “soft touch” dash surfaces, because who fondles their dash anyway? There are several things I’d change, but for the price, all is forgiven.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Agreed. I always cringe when a review blathers on about “soft touch” plastics or a lack thereof. I grew up in pickups where most of the dash was metal and same for the doors.

  • avatar
    wjtinfwb

    Can’t disagree about the Maverick, it looks to be the real deal and whether I can get one for 20 grand or not is moot. What i do know is I can get one in XLT 4wd trim with the 250 HP EcoBoost for under 28k, MSRP. And it will do 95% of everything I’ve used my 20 year old V-10 Excursion to do in the last 10 years. What’s easier still is worst cars this year. The FX55 was already mentioned, as was the MX-30 and it’s gas powered twin the CX-30. Small, cramped, basically a CUV Miata. Much like last years for EcoSport, the step up to a Escape, CX-5, RAV4 or CR-V is so worth the few extra bucks it’s insane. Perhaps surprisingly, I’ll add the new Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer to the list. Chrysler/FCA/Stellantis has been promising a full-size SUV for it seems like 10 years, and they delivered a Hemi powered Whirlpool refrigerator. Square, heavy, expensive and even less efficient than it’s peers, how do you start with the fantastic RAM 1500 and end up with this? I’d much prefer a GM or Ford full-size SUV for less money, and for the same the Escalade and Navigator, not to mention M-B GLS and BMW X7 are better alternatives. Seems like Jeep shot their wad with the 2011 Grand Cherokee and has basically mailed in everything else since. Lots of travel on my schedule this year which means plenty of rental cars, I’m sure I’ll be able to add to this list as the year goes on.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    My personal choices (no objective “best” and “worst,” just likes and dislikes).

    (1) CAR THAT HAS ME DROOLING OVER THE CONFIGURATOR WHEN I SHOULD BE WORKING: Both Cadillac Blackwings. I love the CT5-V’s engine but I like everything else about the CT4-V better. But they both are pure lust objects for me. I’ll take mine (of either model) in Emerald Green Frost with bronze wheels and the tan interior, please.

    (2) CAR THAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT FOR THE MARKET. Maverick is a good choice here, but we’re really waiting for 2022, when the Lightning and possibly the Silverado EV will show up. Electric pickups and vans are going to be a massive deal, and as cool as Rivians are (I saw my first one in person last week) it is the mass-market brands that will really determine what happens.

    (3) CAR I’M MOST LIKELY TO BUY. I’m going to be in the market for two cars in the next few years: (a) a PHEV or BEV replacement for my 2016 Highlander Hybrid, and (b) a stickshift toy that can carry my kids. The next year or two is going to bring more choices for the Highlander replacement, but the Civic Si is the most likely candidate to be the toy. The BRZ would work for now but my older kid’s going to outgrow the back seat soon. Hopefully the Si gets heated seats back at the MMC.

    (4) CAR I FEEL THE MOST IRRATIONAL HATE ABOUT. It’s hard to decide between the TRX, the Grand Wagoneer, and the X6, but I think the TRX has to capture it. As far as I can tell it doesn’t do anything except burn fuel all that well, and the factory width and height make it a safety menace.

    (5) CAR I FORGOT HAD BEEN INTRODUCED UNTIL I STARTED LOOKING AT LISTS: Kia K5. Sorry, Kia.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The Bronco is the easy winner for me in terms of nailing the target market just right and being well executed.

    The Maverick is popular on car enthusiast sites, will that translate into sustained real world success? I know they claim to have sold out of the hybrid version, don’t know how many actual sales that is in the current constrained environment.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “will that translate into sustained real world success”

      I think that has already started.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I’m prepared to eat my words a year from now if there are still waiting lists for it.

        I’m inherently skeptical of anything that seems popular on enthusiast sites, because that is so often correlated with poor sales to the mass market. Maybe this will be different.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Bronco was well-designed, but the production issues – both in terms of production numbers and quality issues – make it hard to say they got the _execution_ right.

  • avatar
    millerluke

    I drive a lot for work – around 45-50,000 km per year. Currently drive an overloaded ’19 Camry – regularly within 150kg of max weight capacity. I’ve been looking at replacing, but there’s little that interests me:
    1) Maverick – looks good, underpowered, and I don’t trust small turbo motors for long distances (see Honda’s oil dilution and Ford’s Ecoboost issues.) Also not sure the bed will provide a significant storage increase. It’d be perfect if they offered it with a slightly longer bed and a N/A V6… or just offer the Ranger with an N/A motor, maybe the 3.3 V6 hybrid setup from the Explorer Hybrid.
    2) New Tundra – I wish it still had the V8, but we’ll see how the turbo 6 shakes out (se above re: turbo engines.) Based on reliability reports from CR on the Lexus LS (similar powertrain), I think I’ll wait and see.
    3) Tahoe/Yukon – Drove one last year, dealer offered a new Yukon for $54k CAD, which includes an discount from my employer. Regretting it some, as the same vehicle today is probably around $65-70k (a new one would likely be more!) Plus, CR seems to think the new Yukoeburbelades are unreliable trash – they scored a ‘2’ out of 100 on reliability.
    4) Rav4 Prime – looks like it could be the ideal vehicle – if it could be got in less than 18 months…

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I can hardly wait to get my 2022 Ford Maverick XLT hybrid which is scheduled for production the week of Feb 14. Hopefully it will be as good a truck as some say it will be and it meets most of what I need in a truck. The price and the hybrid drive that gets 42 mpgs is what finally got me to pull the trigger on the Maverick. The Maverick is a significant vehicle in that it is the first true compact pickup in decades and this is what I have wanted for years. The bed is shorter than what I prefer but I can make it work for most of what I will use it for.

  • avatar
    BSttac

    Excited to see how many recalls Ford can have on the Maverick in the upcoming months. Honorable mention goes to the Mach E GT for only delivering 5 seconds of performance at a time. Go Ford!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Ford is not the only manufacturer with recalls. Eventually Toyota and Nissan will put turbo 4s in the Tacoma and Frontier not something to look forward to for longevity.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      >Eventually Toyota and Nissan will put turbo 4s in the Tacoma and Frontier not something to look forward to for longevity.

      Relying on a turbocharged, direct-injected, small-displacement 4-cylinder engine (over-stressed) to move a chassis with a curb weight more suitable for a hybrid or v6 powertrain isn’t a recipe for engine longevity.

      See Honda Accord (1.5L turbo). See VW Atlas/Tiguan (1.5L turbo). See GM’s Terrain and Equinox (1.5L turbo). See any other manufacturer who came up with the “brilliant” idea of combining an over-stressed small-displacement turbocharged engine with a heavy SUV/sedan/crossover chassis.

      Get the picture?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I just now saw my first Ford Mavericks being unloaded at my local Ford dealer. They are way better looking in real life then they are in pictures. When you see them you’ll think, “Hey, that’s a lot of vehicle for the money” The two I saw were pretty low spec, one an XL, the other an XLT, but they really didn’t scream “cheap” at all

    I was very impressed, too bad I have absolutely no need for a truck :(

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