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Those in the market for a compact truck have just two choices, the SUV-like Hyundai Santa Cruz or the smallest of Ford’s pickups, the Maverick. The Blue Oval’s option is the more affordable choice, and of course, it allows the Blue Oval faithful to continue their brand loyalty in a smaller package.

In its limited segment and overall, the Maverick has plenty of appeal, but like any pickup, it has some flaws as well. Here are the best aspects of the Maverick and an area that needs improvement.

The small Ford Maverick delivers big pragmaticism

The 2023 Ford Maverick certainly isn’t as capable as the midsize Ranger of full-size F-150, but those wanting some genuine pickup capability in a smaller package are likely to be pleased with the Blue Oval’s smallest truck.

The Maverick can tow up to 4,000 pounds, and its payload maxes out at 1,500 pounds, providing ample capability for those who don’t quite need the capacity of its larger siblings. The standard kit includes an integrated trailer brake controller and four- and seven-pin connections.

As such, the Maverick provides better towing in its standard guise than the base Santa Cruz. Hyundai’s compact pickup can tow up to 5,000 pounds, but only if you opt for its upgraded, turbocharged engine with all-wheel drive. As standard, the Santa Cruz’s towing max is 3,500 pounds, and it doesn’t sport four- and seven-pin connections.

Additionally, the Maverick’s 54-inch bed is a half-foot longer than that of the Santa Cruz. The Ford also shines for its interior pragmaticism with under-seat storage beneath the rear seats, large door pockets, and a spacious center console.

The Maverick may be small, but it delivers ample utilitarianism.

The 2023 Ford Maverick saves you money at the dealer and the pumps

One of the Maverick’s most notable selling points is its affordability. The base XL model starts at around $22,595 (per Ford’s website). The midrange XLT rings in just under $25,000, and the top-tier Lariat trim starts at $28,355.

The Santa Cruz commands $27,035 to start with prices cresting $41,000 for the top-trim, Limited version. The Hyundai comes with more equipment as standard, but value-seekers will undoubtedly be drawn to the Ford’s notably lower starting price.

The Maverick is powered as standard by a 2.5-liter hybrid engine that develops 162 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. Those figures underscore it isn’t exactly thrilling to pilot, but it will absolutely save buyers dough on fuel costs, returning an impressive 37 combined mpg. For reference, the subcompact Nissan Versa sedan is rated for up to 35 combined mpg.

Those wanting more grunt can choose the available turbo 2.0-liter, 250-horsepower powertrain.

The only miss is the spartan standard features

The 2023 Ford Maverick’s capabilities and value prospects are strong, but as a daily driver or family hauler—two areas in which many pickups can now shine—it is lackluster. This could deter some who would like the capability of a compact truck but desire the comfort and features offered in compact SUVs.

The Maverick’s ride quality feels, well, very much like a truck, whereas the Santa Cruz is composed through corners and soaks up uneven pavement like a comfortable SUV. The Hyundai also offers more space for rear passengers, and it’s fitted with a sizeable list of standard safety features and driver’s aids the Maverick can’t match. The Ford is only fitted with cruise control and forward-collision mitigation as standard.

The Maverick’s interior is fairly spartan in its two base trims unless you opt for pricy options packages. The base XL, for instance, has an eight-inch touchscreen, cruise control, a six-speaker stereo and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, but the cabin is awash with hard plastics that are notable downgrades from the cabin of the Santa Cruz.

The Maverick’s downsides could be seen as a reasonable price to pay given its capabilities and low base MSRP, but it is reasonable to wish it wasn’t so workhorse-focused when many buyers want their trucks to also act as reasonable family haulers/suitable daily drivers.  


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