Review update: Could the 2022 Ford Maverick be my teens’ first car?

The 2022 Ford Maverick has won a lot of awards for its singular ability to balance efficiency, value, utility, and style. But does the intersection of this automotive Venn diagram make it the right car for my soon-to-be teen drivers?

I want it to be, if not for the ease of weekend DIY projects and hauling around their four-legged sibling. Patience is required. The Boy, 15, already passed his test but won’t get his license until the summer, which is the next time ordering reopens for base Maverick hybrids. The Girl, 14, lugs around hockey goalie gear ten months out of the year and stowing that stank in the bed far from sensitive nostrils would be most welcome. 

Winner of our Best Car To Buy 2022 award, the new Maverick took its time in impressing all three shareholders in our week around town. Nothing about it wowed us, but once we started adding up all that goes into this $23,855 utility vehicle, its charms became apparent.  

Hit: Price

Starting at $21,490 (including a $1,495 destination fee), the 2022 Ford Maverick XL comes with enough modern features and fuel economy to persuade us from a similarly priced used car. In normal times, if record high new car prices were offset by more reasonable used car prices, we might not be as easily swayed. With automatic emergency braking, a rearview camera, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as power doors and locks, it has the features we need.

2022 Ford Maverick in hot pepper red

2022 Ford Maverick in hot pepper red

2022 Ford Maverick in hot pepper red

2022 Ford Maverick in hot pepper red

Miss: Short front seat bottoms

Except for the seats. Like the related Ford Escape and Ford Bronco Sport, the seat cushions come up short, as if Ford made them for teenagers who haven’t fully grown into their bodies or seats. Couple that with the manual driver’s seat and a stock stiff passenger seat with only sliding adjustments, the front seats would almost be a dealbreaker for the adult riding shotgun if not for… 

Hit: XLT Luxury Package

…this package. Sign me up for 8-way power driver seat, 6-way manual passenger seat, heated seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated side mirrors. A bedliner and 400-watt inverter with an outlet in the bed are also included, as is remote start. These are key cold weather features. A full-size spare, trailer hitch, and LED bed lighting complete the package. The XLT Luxury Package has already increased to $2,500 but it’s worth the cost of a year of car insurance for a teen boy. 

Miss: Front-wheel drive only for the hybrid

We would have to get winter tires, and clean out a corner of the garage to swap them out. It would be a good seasonal lesson, but all-wheel drive would make for a lot less bickering. The uprated turbo-4 comes with available all-wheel drive, but no hybrid option. 

Hit: It’s slow

Not a typical positive but hear me out. In its annual guide listing the safest used cars for teens, the IIHS and Consumer Reports advise shoppers to avoid both high horsepower and lightweight cars for their respective propensity to get in crashes and crumple in crashes. The Maverick hybrid is neither powerful nor lightweight. The 2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid powertrain makes 191 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque; it’s not going anywhere fast. It weighs less than 3,700 lb, which is a couple hundred pounds more than compact crossovers such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4. The IIHS and the NHTSA haven’t crashed it yet, but we’re expecting high marks.

Hit: It’s efficient

The powertrain outmuscles the base powertrains of other crossovers, but it does so efficiently, at 42 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 37 mpg combined. I fell well short of that, mostly due to a majority of highway miles, but the Boy was pleased with the potential savings from the city score. 

2022 Ford Maverick in hot pepper red

2022 Ford Maverick in hot pepper red

2022 Ford Maverick in hot pepper red

Hit: Uncomfortable rear seats

Hear me out one more time. It’s a tight fit back there for three, and the seat backs sit upright, so if friends had to choose between riding with him or riding in a crossover, they should choose the latter. Win. Fewer knuckleheads in back means fewer distractions up front.

Hit: Crew cab, short bed

The small bed is big enough at 54.4 inches long. There’s enough width above the wheel wells to haul sheets of plywood—that inexplicable but universal metric of cargo goodness—and the bed flexibility allows for growth alongside the kids’ handiness, in theory. For now, it’s low enough that the Girl can toss her bag over the side, and the tailgate can hold 400 lb, enough for me and the Boy to take a seat and tailgate before her next game. 

We’d add a soft tonneau cover for $560, and more driver-assist systems such as blind-spot monitors for $540, bringing our options to $3,600. Come summertime, a 2023 Maverick for $27,500, and a second driver adds up to the next family milestone. 


2022 Ford Maverick XLT

Base price: $21,490, including $1,495 destination

Price as tested: $23,855

Drivetrain: 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid powertrain with a CVT and front-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: Estimated 42 mpg city, 37 combined

The hits: Price, economy, bed size, slow

The misses: Stiff rear seats, front seats need an upgrade, FWD only

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