The Ford Maverick is great, but it’s also part of the problem

Image for article titled The Ford Maverick is a great truck - that's part of the problem too

Picture: Ford

No one can build vehicles fast enough, but Ford is particularly feeling the pinch with the Maverick. The manufacturer new orders on hold on his hot compact pickup until the summer because he has to give priority to reservations already made. And listen – despite the headline up there which I’m well aware some of you are sharpening your axes reading this, let me just say that I understand. As a technical feat, the Maverick deserves praise. A small truck that starts at $20,000 and returns 40 miles per gallon is something the world could use more of, especially considering the current fuel disaster. I’m glad Ford did.

The Maverick is special because it offers the low starting price and efficiency of a compact sedan, hatchback or crossover in a pickup truck configuration. It’s very exciting for people who need a vehicle that meets these conflicting demands.

But how many Maverick buyers actually do it? A thread on the Maverick subreddit asking potential owners which vehicles they’ll replace with the entry-level truck includes an assortment of interesting responses, including Civics, Fiestas, BMW 3 Series and Elantras. There are also midsize and midsize truck owners expressing a desire to downsize and save money at the pump, alongside folks with small crossovers looking for a little more utility.

Pickups are a funny thing, because they’re irreplaceable for people who actually need them, but actively impractical for those who don’t. The vast majority of car buyers need a covered cargo area, not open-air beds that leave whatever they’re hauling vulnerable to the elements and require tie-downs so the contents don’t slip or get tangled up. don’t fly. The vast majority of people also prefer to save money.

Of course, there are inexpensive vehicles that excel at sipping fuel – even more so than the Maverick – are also inexpensive to buy and operate and have all the cargo space the average American needs. They are named cars, and I have to imagine many maverick shoppers would find their needs met by them. Unfortunately, Ford stopped making them years ago.

Ford won’t admit that the Maverick is designed to fill the void in its lineup left vacant by the Focus or Fusion, but reading between the lines of comments made by Hau Thai-Tang, head of product platform and Ford operations, for Muscle cars and trucksit is difficult to come to another conclusion:

“No! It’s not (a replacement for the Ford Fusion),” Hau Thai-Tang said in an interview with MC&T. make money, how else can we use this capital and engineering ability? We decided to play to our strengths.

“What are we good at? Trucks. What do we need? An affordable entry-level vehicle to bring first-time buyers into the showroom,” he said.

For almost all of automotive history until about 10 years ago, passenger cars were “affordable entry vehicles” that were great for bringing first-time buyers into showrooms. The most depressing thing about Thai-Tang’s comment here is that Ford was actually competent to build them, when he wanted to be. I rented the last Focus we had here in the States and used a Fiesta ST for four years. They are lovely cars. Flawed, of course, but what reasonably priced transport isn’t? They were also both products of the European branch of Ford, which is why they were much better than the dark and tragically confronting penalty box that was the 2008-11 Focus sold in North America.

Yes, I know the transmission sucked, but they also made them as manuals, and the chassis was great.

Yes, I know the transmission sucked, but they also made them as manuals, and the chassis was great.
Picture: Ford

Ford never figured out how to market these cars within its brand like the Japanese and Korean brands do, so it gave up trying. The same is true for GM and Chrysler, to some extent. It’s depressing but completely understandable from a business perspective. The Maverick is a particularly nifty play from Ford, because while it’s hard to imagine the margins being thicker on lower-end trims than they were on the typical Fiesta or Focus, the company doesn’t stock than optional EcoBoost-equipped models on dealer lots. . In this country it is extremely difficult to sell a budget car, but you can resell a truck without even trying.

And therein lies the undercurrent that I think partly explains the success of the Maverick and everyone’s adoration for it: shame. Specifically, little car shame. Too bad it drives some buyers to buy a van when they would be okay with a car or reasonably size crossing; Too bad Ford is selling a pickup as a replacement for a car. Again, if you need a truck for work or actively use it for fun, if you tow (not that the Mav is even great for that, mind) or you plan to throw dirt or coolers full of fish or a quad in the bed, then more power for you. I hope you like the little guy. He looks wonderful.

But if you don’t need a vehicle for such activities, I know you know that all of the qualities that make the Maverick special among pickups have always been available in other, more sensible body styles – body styles that we have collectively deemed unworthy as a society. Maybe the optimistic way to read the hype is that at least it persuades people who want mics to reconsider what size mic they actually need. The silver lining is that the Maverick still gets people into relatively more economical vehicles, and that’s a good thing. It would just be better if it didn’t reinforce our deep-rooted car-buying complexes while doing it.