Pickups today are so big — that’s easy to confirm in any parking lot, where these trucks strain the margins of a typical parking space. And “full-size” is bigger than it used to be: Today, a midsize Ford Ranger is about the size of an F-150 from a couple of decades ago. Even the compact 2022 Ford Maverick is bigger in many ways than the old-generation Ford Ranger. Yet it and the Hyundai Santa Cruz are the tiniest trucks on the market.
The arrival of a little Maverick for a few days of driving recently was a chance to answer a big question: Is the Maverick really much of a truck?
Sure, it has a pickup bed, sort of. As a consequence of having a four-door cab, the bed’s tiny: a hair over 4.5 feet long, and a hair under 4.5 feet wide. When I said the Maverick was bigger than small trucks of yesteryear, that didn’t include bed size. The old Ranger came with 6- and 7-foot-long boxes. I owned a couple of Chevy S10s back in the day, which had 7.5-foot boxes, and they could haul a lot of cargo. One memorable load was a brand-new, crated-up, double-door, 7-foot-tall Sub-Zero refrigerator. That fancy icebox was so big, it took four cursing men to maneuver it into the kitchen. But a compact pickup hauled it.
Such a load would probably be too big for a Maverick. Its four doors make it a passenger car or compact SUV in a sense, one that leaves your luggage out in the rain. It’s great at hauling people, but does so by sacrificing some of what actually defines a truck.
Maverick isn’t alone in having a compromised bed size, of course. The smallest bed on an F-150 is only 5.5 feet long. At least Maverick edges out the Santa Cruz box, which is a mere 4-footer.
With a shell on it, I used to use a truck bed as a … bed, sleeping off the ground on backcountry outings. The only way to do that in a Maverick is by dropping the tailgate — assuming it’s not a cold night, you’re not in bear country, and you’re under 6 feet tall so your feet don’t dangle.
But Ford’s got a tape measure. Its engineers know the bed’s short, and they did a lot to mitigate this with their Flexbed system (explained in the video at the bottom of this post). For example, you could haul lumber by making use of the many tie-downs and cleats, and the tailgate can be angled partially open to support level sheets of plywood. The bed’s short but clever.
So the utility test for this particular Maverick would focus on volume. Besides, I needed a load of garden compost, so there’s that. The cargo capacity is rated at 33.3 cubic feet. A cubic yard of material measures 27 cubic feet, so the math says it should fit — and flush with the top of the box, even. So we were off to the materials yard to test that. Plus, it would be interesting to see how a front-end loader would drop the compost into such a small target. Would they maybe even refuse to try?
@autoblog How much can the 2022 Ford Maverick XLT haul? We load it up to find out
♬ original sound – Autoblog
Waiting in line and watching the loader fill bigger trucks, I chickened out and paid for just half a yard of material. What they were calling a yard looked like way too much. The loader operator solved the size issue by positioning the bucket over the bed at a corner-to-corner angle, with made for just a bit of spillage off the tailgate. The supposed half-yard load was piled higher than the side rails, in a catty-corner ridge. Perhaps the loader driver was being generous, but the truck was pretty full. Hunkered down, we drove off.
Examining the load back at home, double the amount might have fit — if raked into all four corners and piled really high, like maybe cab-high. But there was also the matter of weight to consider. A Google search claimed a yard of compost weighs 1,250 pounds, and the Maverick’s payload rating is 1,500. However, this compost was wet. Soggy-Seattle-spring wet. A full yard would surely have overloaded this trucklet.
On the very bright side of things, the Maverick was super easy to unload. The last time I fetched bulk material was in an F-150 Tremor, a truck so tall that shoveling it out required a stepladder. This little front-wheel-drive Maverick was the perfect height — you can easily reach over the side rails, or reach clear to the front of the bed with a shovel from the open tailgate. That was pretty sweet.
Beyond the hauling capabilities, this Maverick EcoBoost XLT was pleasant and cute. The interior has an interesting mix of materials and textures applied to the seating, doors and dash. The cloth upholstery is particularly nice. The interior is simple and utilitarian, with a modern design sense. There are loads of cubbies in the dash, console and doors, and hidden storage bins under the back seat. Front legroom is just enough for a 6-foot-tall driver to get by with, and rear legroom is good enough. The truck had a throwback feature — an ignition key; a start button is reserved for the Lariat trim, but a key works just fine.
@autoblog 2022 Ford Maverick XLT interior tour
♬ original sound – Autoblog
The 2.0 EcoBoost provides plenty of power. The transmission works well, though to my Neanderthal way of thinking, a manual with a lower first gear would be greatly preferable in a small pickup. And the unibody construction made for a tight, cohesive ride.
On top of all that, it’s a nice-looking little rig with a strong family resemblance. This FWD Maverick XLT EcoBoost in Hot Pepper Red Metallic, with a Luxury Package that included trailering kit, eight-way driver’s seat, spray-in bedliner and more, carried an MSRP of $28,540 including destination charge.
Best of all, it fits great in a parking space or in your garage — and maybe in your life. It can haul people, it can haul things … a few things, maybe enough things, though maybe you have to make two trips. The bed’s small, but you can work with it, and it’s far friendlier to unload than trucks from the Ford dealer’s big-and-tall aisle. And with EPA ratings of 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined, this Maverick’s friendlier on your wallet in these days of high gas prices. And this isn’t even the Maverick hybrid.
Around Autoblog, we always say that the similarly unibody Honda Ridgeline is truck enough to do 90% of the things a typical suburban homeowner would actually use a truck for. The Maverick can do maybe 75% of those things. That’s truck enough for most of us.