2023 Ford Maverick XLT Tremor AWD Review

Very big things from a small truck


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Right-sized and affordable for most buyers, capable powertrain, easy to drive and maneuver, great storage/cargo options, solid fuel economy, fresh interior.
Negatives: Overly tall driving position, physical key ignition feels dated in a contemporary cabin.
Bottom Line: The Maverick makes a strong case for the small pickup truck. It drives remarkably well, has a fresh interior, and offers great cargo and storage choices. At this price, it's a brilliant move by Ford.
The Ford Maverick might just be the best move for the brand in recent times, and that means even better than the F-150 Lightning because that's out of reach for most folks in terms of price, and it's also a bit too large for daily use. The Maverick offers gas and hybrid options, and both are really impressive. It also slots in between the Honda Ridgeline and the Hyundai Santa Cruz. Ford can't keep them in stock, and that's a testament to the everyday brilliance of the Maverick. We got to drive the FWD hybrid model in XLT trim last year, and now we're in the gas-powered XLT AWD version with the Tremor package that includes a 1-inch lift, exclusive Trail Control, off-road-focused suspension, and all-wheel drive with four-wheel-drive lock. Read our full review below.
 

Driving Experience

8.2

 

Ford made the Maverick surprisingly good when it comes to the driving experience. The turbo four is feisty, and the rest of the truck falls in line in terms of handling, braking, and overall ride comfort. The steering feel could be improved, but we're happy to report that the effort is still present in a good way.

Ride Quality: The Maverick is good over most surfaces, and there's a good balance of ride comfort and road feel.

Acceleration: The 0-60 sprint takes only 5.9 seconds with the non-hybridized turbo-four mated to the eight-speed automatic transmission. That's pretty quick in this segment, and it beats both the Honda Ridgeline (6.4 seconds) and the Hyundai Santa Cruz (6.0 seconds).

Braking: The brakes were good with no mushy pedal feel or grabbiness.

Steering: There's a fair amount of steering effort, which we like, but there's not much feedback coming through the steering wheel. It's accurate, and you can easily point it where you want it to go.

Handling: There's only a mild amount of body roll, and the Maverick can manage a balanced turn. It's front heavy, but there's not an appreciable amount of oversteer.

Technology

7.2

 

The Maverick's 8.0-inch touchscreen is a decent unit, but it can't hold a candle to some of Ford's larger versions. It works just fine for the Maverick, and Sync3 is still very responsive and easy to use. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are standard.

Infotainment System: The screen is crisp and easy to read, and the position on top of the dash provides good visibility. It's not an especially jazzy looking screen, but it does the job.

Controls: We like the preponderance of physical controls in the Maverick. None of them is particularly fancy, but they work well. Easy audio and climate controls, good steering wheel controls, and a more-than-adequate rotary gearshift knob make driving less distracting than heavily touchscreen dependent controls. The key ignition feels out of place in a contemporary interior, and it's a bit too old school now.

Styling

8.6

 

The Maverick definitely is less truck-like than its larger stablemates, but it's blockier than the Santa Cruz and similar to the current Ridgeline after its refresh a couple of years ago. The Tremor package adds some visual cues that set it apart from the regular XL with the addition of blacked-out Ford logos, headlamps and taillamps, orange tow hooks, and unique fender vents and grille. The optional Tremor Appearance package that was on our tester adds a Carbonized Gray painted roof with matching Carbonized Gray mirror caps, and grayscale stripe decals applied to doors and hood.

Front: The Tremor package provides some nice touches up front. The already black grille of the regular Maverick gets a portion of the headlamps blackened to match, as well as orange grille trim and orange front tow hooks. The added flair gives it a sportier look. We also like the vertical front fascia that makes it look more truck-ish.

Rear: The shapely taillamps get slightly blackened in the lenses. Otherwise, the tailgate looks the same as the non-Tremor version with the big MAVERICK debossed logo. It's a good-looking back end, but the offset license plate mount looks odd.

Profile: Black wheels with the orange trim are the most prominent feature, and they match the bed logo, door handles, and the fender vent. It's a nicely proportioned truck that looks especially good in gray paint.

Cabin: The cabin is attractive, modern, and airy. The materials quality is actually pretty good for this price point, and the recycled plastics on many of the surfaces prevent it from feeling cheap. The hints of orange inside add sportiness, and the grey fabric seats are some of the best versions we've seen in a modern vehicle.

Comfort

8.2

 

The Maverick is actually pretty roomy for a small pickup truck. Mind you, it's not a large crew cab because it feels more like a large double cab in back. It only comes in one configuration (seating and bed size), but it's pretty good for five people as long as they're not all six+ feet tall.

Front Seats: The Maverick does a great job with its two front seats in terms of comfort, but the riding position could be improved. A lot of attention was paid to the cushioning and materials quality. The riding position is a little on the high side, but it's not terrible.

Rear Seats: The seats are on the flat side, but at least there's good cushioning, and the middle position seatback doesn't protrude much. The Maverick's rear seat also provides a fraction more legroom than both the Santa Cruz and the Ridgeline.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): You can definitely hear the turbo four working when you thrash it, but road noise and wind noise are manageable. The relatively low ride height and the medium-sized mirrors certainly help.

Visibility: Visibility all around is good thanks to manageable pillar width, window size, and a low hoodline.

Climate: The climate system worked well and generated plenty of heat quickly. The heated front seats fired up quickly and were aided by the fabric seats.

Safety

7

 

The Maverick does a decent job in the safety department. It wasn't tested by the IIHS, but the NHTSA gave it good scores. When it comes to safety tech, the Maverick gets a respectable set of standard features.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: The federal government gave the Maverick 4 stars out of 5 with slight demerits in the front passenger side crash safety, as well as rollover risk.

Standard Tech: The Maverick comes with Pre-Collision Assist w/ Automatic Emergency Braking, a rearview camera, Remote Keyless Entry, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with the optional Ford COPILOT360 that includes Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, and automatic high beam headlights.

Storage/Cargo

8.6

 

For a small truck, Ford did a good job with storage and cargo versatility. The Maverick only comes in a single crew-cab with a 4.5-foot bed configuration. What Ford did with the interior space is impressive, to the point where everyone else should copy it.

Storage Space: There are tons of storage cubbies in the open center console and massive door pockets. Speaking of which, those pockets extend toward the trailing edge of the front doors, to the point where they disappear. It would be easy to stick something back there and forget it. Since the bed doesn't have any storage compartments like the Ridgeline or the Santa Cruz, there's a convenient storage area beneath the rear seats. Fold up the seats, and you can stow a good amount of gear.

Cargo Room: The 4.5-foot bed might not be huge, but you can do a lot with it thanks to the three-position tailgate that uses adjustable support cables to lock it in mid-position. This way, you can haul sheets of plywood flat and above the rear wheel wells. The tailgate can handle up to 400 pounds of load.

Fuel Economy

7.7

 

It's not as efficient as our previous hybrid tester, but the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine isn't bad when it comes to fuel economy. We drove it fairly hard most of the time, so our combined numbers fell a bit short of the EPA estimate of 25 mpg.

Observed: 24.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 173 miles

Audio

6

 

The stock 6-speaker stereo system is fine with no bells and whistles in terms of amplification or bass. The sound was clear but a bit on the hollow side.



Final Thoughts

The Maverick is a great small truck. Is it a standout among the three? No, but it offers quite a bit for the money with the hybrid appeal with its 40 mpg at the top of the list. The turbo-four is spritely, although not as efficient. The Maverick has the lowest tow rating at 4,000 pounds (properly outfitted), while the Santa Cruz and the Ridgeline can do 5,000 pounds (properly outfitted). The Maverick's interior is more appealing than either of the other two, but it's tech and audio are midpack. Overall, it's a great everyman small truck that should easily justify its sales volumes.

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