I can’t lie; I’m excited about the new Ford Maverick, largely because I could save $1500 by spending $26,000. Let me explain. When I bought my Lincoln MKT, I didn’t really understand how heavily my son would end up focusing on riding dual-suspension mountain bikes, which don’t fit well on the traditional (and made-in-USA) Hollywood four-bike race I got for said Lincoln. So in the past year we’ve left the MKT at home and used my Silverado to haul the bikes.
This is using an A-10 to kill a housefly; all we really need is a vehicle that has enough open space in a bed to carry four MTBs with their front wheels over the tailgate, plus enough indoors space for (what will eventually be) two six-foot-plus riders and their gear. That’s what the Maverick is. It will get twice the fuel mileage of the Silverado. It won’t need nine quarts of synthetic oil for every change (thank you, GM L86!) or require massive 20″ tires. It will need a little bit of ground clearance to get up some trails.
The alternative would be to buy one of the heavy-duty USA-made DH bike racks for the MKT, probably Alta’s $1200 six-bike carrier, and that’s probably what I’ll do, at least for 2022. But I like the idea of adding a Maverick to the fleet. And why not? The price is right.
The reasons the price is right might surprise you; this isn’t information you’ll get anywhere else, at least right now.
My internal sources at Ford are telling me that the Maverick failed “pretty much every audit you can imagine, from fit-and-finish to FCPA”. The race to build a $19,995 truck meant that any number of “nice-to-haves” were left by the wayside. There was never any question of manufacturing it in the USA; at this price you get Hermosillo Assembly. But “the Fiesta was assembled there, and it wasn’t a piece of shit, like this is.”
What corners were cut? Probably not the powertrain, as the 2.5L hybrid is being used in higher-dollar cars elsewhere and Ford has demonstrated their ability to build everlasting hybrids via the Escape NYC taxi. Inside and out, however, look for cheaper materials assembled to wider tolerances. This will likely be a noisy little truck, filled with surfaces that will wear shiny in a hurry. The current Bronco Sport is already taking stick from the automotive press for interior quality and this Maverick won’t be any better. Could likely be worse.
What corners weren’t cut? Crash safety, the aforementioned engine, possibly the in-car electronics. We won’t know until we get a close-up look at production Mavericks. But the fact that there was allegedly an open conflict within the company regarding the Maverick’s quality should cause all of us to be cautious.
Don’t think that all of the above is a bad thing, because it isn’t. There has traditionally been a market for dirt-cheap vehicles that lasted long enough to pay off the loan without offering their owners much in the way of warm fuzzies or luxury pretensions. That market got wiped out by an odd feedback loop, going something like this: The government mandates more equipment. So the price of a new car goes up. So the manufacturer adds a few features to keep the car from looking like a showroom disaster. This brings the price up a little more. Which means that only wealthier buyers can participate. But those wealthier buyers want more features, more weight, more power. So you adjust accordingly. Which makes the car even more expensive, and exposes it to an ever pickier set of buyers… it’s the CIRRRRRRCLE OF LIIIIIIIIIIFE!
Most of the electronic trash they put on vehicles now (lane departure, that sort of thing) is now dirt-cheap. So the time is right to get back to a truly affordable vehicle. No, it won’t be a smaller F-150. If you want that, buy a Ranger, which is NOT dirt-cheap. This will be a plastic-feeling box on wheels that can accomplish a lot of tasks. We need more of those. Because we need more young people buying new cars. Because otherwise the market’s insane race to the top will have most of us fighting in the streets for a limited, and expensive, supply of used cars. Like we are now. But permanently.
Give the Maverick a sympathetic look when it comes out. Even if it’s kind of junky. Especially if it’s kind of junky. Right now, kind of junky is what we need.