2024 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid Makes Casey’s Short List

I drive a lot of new cars, but like most automotive journalists, I always keep a short list of vehicles I would buy for myself if circumstances changed and I needed a vehicle for everyday use.  I want vehicles that are easy to drive, get great gas mileage, carry the family, and don’t cost a lot to buy or maintain.  For the last couple of years, the Ford Maverick has been near the top.  I especially like it in Lariat trim as a hybrid.

Urban Utility Design

Designers did a good job of connecting the Maverick’s urban utility design to the best-selling full-size F-150 pickup.  Compact dimensions bely the Bronco Sport’s crossover architecture beneath, but its crew cab body is more streamlined and especially fetching wearing the Black Appearance Package that includes a black grille, 18” wheels, mirror caps, and Ford Oval.  A low lift-over, spray in protection, tie-downs, LED light, and household power outlet add convenience to the bed whether hauling mulch, carrying camping gear, or tossing in a couple of bicycles.

The Maverick’s interior is a master class in using low-cost materials that don’t seem cheap.  Don’t misunderstand, there’s a heap of hard plastic, but designers added blueish-gray tint to the textured dash materials and molded faceted edges into door panels.  Door pulls, bottle holders, and speaker enclosures are sculpture.  Premium models add orange or bronze accents for interest, but even the rubber-ringed gear selector glides through its choices.

A large touchscreen, with actual volume/tuning knobs below, intuitively connects to devices through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  Navigation, console charging pad, and full B&O audio add delights – as do heated front seats, heated steering wheel and dual-zone automatic climate control.  Sure, seats and steering wheel are vinyl, but that just makes them more durable and easier to clean.  Stay safe with adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection systems.

Tight Hybrid Handling

If I was going to buy a Maverick, I’d choose this one’s powertrain.  It’s a front-drive hybrid with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously-variable transmission delivering a peppy 191 horsepower and 42/33-MPG city/highway.  You can get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive, but the hybrid provides incredible fuel economy and you don’t really need AWD with front-drive and traction control.  This is the best choice for most, though payload and towing capacities are limited to 1,500 lbs. and 2,000 lbs. respectively.  I only wish Ford would make a plug-in version with 30 miles range.

Unlike most pickups that jump and jiggle over rough pavement, the Maverick’s twist beam rear suspension took it all in stride.  An independent suspension is available on all-wheel-drive models for even better ride quality, but most drivers will never miss it.  Without a separate bed, the body seems much more solid with no squeaks and creaks.  And, since it sits low to the ground, it is actually fun to drive on curvy narrow backroads.  Carry home mulch and plants, clean up, and hit the town or country.

I like vehicles that are expertly styled, fuel-efficient, comfortable, practical and…affordable.  The Maverick does all of that plus starts at just $23,815, rising to $37,510 very well equipped.  Its only true competitor is the Hyundai Santa Cruz, but also compares to the Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, GMC Canyon, and Ford’s own Ranger pickups.

Storm Forward!

Send comments to Casey at [email protected]; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.