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Since its release, I have been eager to get behind the wheel of the Ford Maverick. Most aspects of this small truck seem to make it a winner. You get a standard hybrid engine, low entry cost, and a pickup from one of the most popular truck manufacturers. But when I had the opportunity to test the 2023 Ford Maverick Tremor at the MAMA spring rally, I came away feeling a little disappointed. 

Is the Ford Maverick a good truck?

As a small truck, the 2023 Maverick looks great on paper. And, it’s been a vehicle that is nearly impossible to buy because demand is so high. With its starting price of around $25k, traditional pickup truck design, and good utility, it makes sense why owners love this compact pickup. 

The Ford Maverick Tremor pickup truck is driving through mud.
2023 Ford Maverick Tremor | Ford

For the 2023 model year, Ford took the Maverick to the next level. The available Tremor package adds a lift kit, an improved AWD system, and a more robust suspension. And that might help with owners who want to do some light off-roading. 

You can’t get the Tremor package with the hybrid engine, so that does remove some of the efficiency benefits of the Ford Maverick. But that trade-off is probably worth it to some. 

How does the Ford Maverick Tremor drive?

Frankly, I found the 2023 Maverick Tremor to be a forgettable truck. I’m not calling it a bad pickup, because it is good at doing truck stuff. But it does lack some of the engagement I expected it to have. In some ways, it doesn’t seem like it’s been able to escape its Ford Escape underpinnings. 

After I drove the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz, I came away with a new-found respect for small trucks. Hyundai’s pickup felt quick, spirited, and can tow up to 5,000 lbs. In some ways, that is what I thought the Maverick might have.

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz small truck is parked.
Hyundai Santa Cruz | Eric Boman, MotorBiscuit

That said, the Maverick does have some things the Santa Cruz does not. It is legitimately affordable, and you can get it with a hybrid engine. In some cases, people have reported getting up to 50 mpg in the Maverick hybrid. And if you know trucks, you understand what a big deal that is. 

Ford’s small truck leaves something to be desired

If you’re looking for a small truck, there are probably more things that you are looking for than an engaging driving experience. But after driving both the 2023 Ford Maverick and the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz, I might have to say I prefer the Santa Cruz. And this is from someone who thoroughly enjoys most of Ford’s products. 

Although I noticed some drawbacks in Ford’s compact pickup, the Maverick won MotorBiscuit’s Truck of the Year award. So it is a far cry from being a bad vehicle. It is also much more truck-like than the Santa Cruz. In some people’s eyes, that might be a legitimate benefit. But, actually getting a Ford Maverick is fairly difficult. According to Ford Authority, orders for the 2024 Maverick aren’t opening until July.

Related Here’s When You Can Order Your 2024 Ford Maverick

Here’s When You Can Order Your 2024 Ford Maverick