Ford Maverick is not as compact as it looks
A few weeks ago, Ford unveiled a new “right-sized” pickup for the 2022 model year called the Maverick. The truck is different. On the one hand, it is a unibody design with four doors and a bed integrated into the cabin, not separate. For another it’s a hybrid – which I don’t know. It seemed rather brave, for Ford. It seemed brave enough, at least, to inspire me to take a closer look at the specs of the small truck … and that’s when I noticed the new Maverick isn’t that small. after all.
In fact, at 199.7 inches long, the new “compact” Maverick is two inches longer than the 1992 Ford F-150 “full-size” half-ton pickup.
You’ve probably heard it before. Heck – you probably said it yourself.
“New cars are getting too big,” says Common Bromide. “They are heavy and bloated and no longer have fun. Why the new Honda Civic is bigger than the Accord was before.
And that’s true, of course, but it’s not that bad. A long, long time ago, one of Honda’s PR executives told me that the growth of the Civic created an opportunity to introduce a new product into the market space that the Civic previously occupied and gave Honda a chance to reach more buyers.
This is great for Honda, which is trying to increase its market share, but how does that play out for the absolute undisputed king of sales hill Ford F-150? For that I want to take you back to 1992 and the Ford F-150 Nite.
Why the Nite 1992? For one thing, 30 seemed like a nice round, “generational” number. I remember the ’92 Nite (specifically this ad, above) as a truck I wanted to own. Back then, that aerodynamic front end looked particularly slick, and the combination of neon stripes over black paint really gave it a sporty feel, and – as a kid in high school dreaming of his first car – I did. desperately wanted one.
Fast forward 30 years and my kid is tearing up 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 buy. against a 1992 F-150 Nite.
I think so too. After briefly fondling the idea of an obviously bogus F-150 Nite that I came across in Connecticut (4WD, extended cab, flared side), I found a very, very fair F-150 Nite closer to my home for about $ 20,000. Sophisticated readers will notice that this is almost exactly the starting price for an all-new Maverick.
Does it really make sense to compare a state-of-the-art Ford hybrid to a 30-year-old F-150 with a powertrain that has its roots in the Nixon administration?
Welcome to my illness.
The new Ford Maverick is significantly smaller than any current Ford truck offering. But, although it is two inches taller than the 1992 “full size” (regular cabin, short bed), it is almost two feet taller than a Ranger of the same vintage. Certainly in a different class of truck than the compact Ranger of yesteryear, but it’s hard to think of the Maverick as anything but small when you see it alongside an F-250 Super Duty. Likewise, it’s hard to think of an older (classic?) F-150 as “full-size” when you see one next to a modern F-150.
So they are roughly the same length – but the length is only one dimension. The 1992 Nite also has a 6 ′ 8 ″ bed, which gives it much 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 importantly, a lot more front passenger shoulder room in the Nite than in the Maverick.
Where does this new Maverick fit in the grand hierarchy of truck sizes? To me, it fits in the “late 1990s” truck segment that the Dodge Dakota occupied. I actually bought a new Dakota 98 from Bob Wilson Dodge in Tampa, FL at the time, and this truck was about perfect. It was big enough to get the job done, roomy enough for road trips, and narrow enough to be usable on occasional trips around the city center.
And, of course, another truck buyer could put more weight in the Nite’s bed than the Maverick or that old Dakota could safely handle, but the most punitive treatment I would treat my truck to like a 21st century commuter would be. is a trip to Lowe’s every now and then – and even the cargo on that trip would be mostly sailboat fuel, you know? And maybe it’s A-OK by Ford, since 62% of the expected buyers of the Maverick are not “truck types” (According to the survey on this link, Ford only expects about 17% – less than 1 in 5 – of buyers to replace another truck when they buy their Maverick).
Depending on my needs, the most important aspect of owning a truck will probably be whether or not I can parallel park it, and the Nite and Maverick are neck and neck in it.
What about power and performance? The modern Maverick seems to have a slight advantage. The ’92 Nite was powered by a version of Ford’s 5.0L OHV V8 that developed 185 hp and only produced 14 mpg in the city. By comparison, the base Maverick hybrid offers less horsepower, but more torque due to some gear tricks made possible by the electric traction motor and, well, the math. But, while none of the trucks are ever mistaken for a GMC Syclone on the drag strip (another childhood favorite), the Maverick’s 40 mpg rating is leaps and bounds from the ’92, which is a huge advantage in its favor.
Safety technology has come a long way in 30 years as well, and the Maverick unibody undoubtedly offers a smoother, quieter and more comfortable ride than its 30-year-old ancestor could dream of.
All this to say that Honda may be right. The bigger, meaner F-150s Ford has deployed have certainly been successful. Like, really successful – Ford has sold over three-quarters of a million. Every year. For 10 years. In 2018 alone, a record year for Ford, the Blue Oval sold 909,330 F-Series trucks. Puffy or not, this kind of success is no joke. And, while we’re at it, I remember the 1992 F-150 was selling in decent numbers as well – so maybe they got the right idea with all this “controlled bloat” thing, and I became convinced that it really works.
So is it the so-called “green” and definitely more practical hybrid or the vintage pickup that gets me personally? Too early to tell, honestly – but I’m a firm believer that the greenest car you can buy is one that’s been built before, so the ’92 has that for that, which is good.