The Ford Maverick Makes Me Shrug


The word of the week has been Maverick.

The 2022 Ford Maverick has gotten plenty of coverage on this site and elsewhere, plenty of buzz on Twitter, and every auto journalist I know, self included, has strained to find the best joke referencing either Top Gun or a ’90s Western comedy starring Mel Gibson and James Garner (both flicks are excellent, by the way).

I want to be excited by this truck. I should be excited by this truck. And yet, my prevailing feeling about it could be summed up by a gif of a shrug.

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think the truck, based on its specs, will be bad. Far from it. I’m impressed by the specs and the pricing and I like the looks and I suspect the truck will drive just fine. Ford appears to have done a wonderful job. And I have little doubt the Maverick will be a hot seller.

Nor am I against compact trucks in general. I think there was a gap in the market, and Ford and Hyundai are getting there first — Hyundai with the upcoming Santa Cruz. I’m excited to see other makes follow.

I suspect my indifference may be related to my own biases and interests — I am just more of a sports-car (sedan, coupe, hatch, whatever body style) guy than a pickup man. And I live in a part of Chicago that is not truck friendly, to boot — if I were still a suburbanite, I might be more into trucks. I do start playing with trucks on consumer configurators after visiting family that lives on a farm.

There’s always danger in turning personal preference into an opinion post, and I am flirting with it, I know. But I also suspect that I am in a weird minority here. Most folks seem to love the Maverick. A few hate it. Others point out that today’s “compact” truck is bigger than the trucks of yore as a way of also noting size bloat throughout the industry.

The more I think on it, the more I realize why I am indifferent, and it goes beyond personal taste. Personal preference is best expressed in a tweet, not a post. My real issue isn’t that the Maverick doesn’t excite me because sports cars are more likely to rev my engine, so to speak, but because it seems that only trucks are really exciting these days. And maybe some EVs, like the Mach-E.

Think about it. Over the past two to three years, what have been the most exciting unveilings? Ford’s F-150, Bronco, Bronco Sport, Mach-E, and now Maverick. Hyundai’s Santa Cruz. Corvette. Maybe Civic and Land Rover Defender? Possibly the upcoming Nissan Z, just announced for August.

Some of that is related to COVID. A lot of it is related to the market shift towards boring-but-useful crossovers, and the fact that market realities and regulations make it harder for automakers to justify business cases for “fun” cars and trucks.

Maybe the Maverick is a big deal all on its own, independent of the market, and I am just off-base here. But I can’t help but shake the feeling that at least part of the excitement surrounding the Maverick isn’t because it marks the return of the small truck or because it’s impressive on paper. Those things are both true, of course, but I also wonder if part of the excitement is because there just aren’t as many “fun” things to get fired up about. So instead we focus on a well-done vehicle that exists for utilitarian purposes.

I do understand why certain consumers — those who actually need/use these trucks — get excited. An affordable truck that can make your job easier, or make it easier to indulge your hobbies, is nothing to sneeze at.

It’s not that I think you shouldn’t be excited about Maverick. Rather, I think it’s a bit sad that there aren’t more, other types of vehicles to get excited about right now.

Hey, at least I can geek out over another Ford soon enough. I just need to find some fresh-squeezed O.J. references.

Still, the relative lack of heart-pounding concepts and hotly anticipated enthusiast vehicles might explain my indifference even more than my hit-or-miss relationship with trucks.

Either that, or I am just … a maverick.

[Images: Ford]

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