Last year, Ford produced its last car. And if there was any doubt about Ford’s plans to be a company synonymous with pickup trucks – and hybrid drivetrain technology – the new Maverick should confirm its desire to move even further away from conventional passenger sedans.
Not to be confused with the unremarkable Maverick sedan sold during the 1970s and 1980s, the latest version is a compact truck available with a hybrid drivetrain.
That makes it the first of its kind in this super-competitive market and – says Ford – the leader in fuel economy: a combined rating of 5.9 litres/100 km, so cheaper to run than a Honda Civic apparently.
Some highlights of the Maverick, which hits the market this fall:
Two drivetrains will be available – the hybrid setup, which features a four-cylinder 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), or one of Ford’s EcoBoost 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. The former powertrain will deliver just over 190 horsepower, while the latter is good for 250 horses and comes with an eight-speed automatic.
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Atkinson cycle engines, which are used by most carmakers, feature a variable camshaft system that holds the exhaust valves open a little longer to maximize combustion. The offset is a loss of power so the Maverick hybrid won’t set the road on fire in terms of performance. On the other hand, you’ll be able to drive around 800 km on a single tank.
Body configuration is a four-door extended cab with seating for five adults. Interior accoutrements will be in step with contemporary trends but apparently not over the top. Says Ford: “This customer wants simple, but not basic.”
Expect touch-screen controls and the usual Bluetooth, Android Auto, Wi-Fi, etc. Not to mention oversize cup-holders and storage compartments. Available options include adaptive cruise control with stop and go, blind-spot system with cross-traffic alert, lane centering and evasive steering assist.
Five standard drive modes are available: normal, eco, sport, slippery and tow/haul.
With unibody construction, the new Maverick hybrid will feature a multi-position tailgate and have 10 anchor points in the bed, plus a couple of pre-wired accessory outlets in the back. It will have some 1,500 pounds of payload capacity, equal to 37 bags of 40-pound mulch, says the company.
It will also provide 2,000 pounds of towing capability. The optional 2.0-litre EcoBoost gas engine will pull almost twice as much – up to 4,000 pounds, enough to bring a typical 23-foot camper.
My favourite quote from Ford on the new Maverick’s versatility: “The whole bed is a DIY fan’s paradise.”
It will be offered at three trim levels – XL, XLT and Lariat. The FX4 package will be available for all-wheel-drive XLT and Lariat models, adding more off-road capability with all-terrain tires and suspension tuning, additional underbody protection, and off-road-focused drive modes like Mud/Rut and Sand, as well as hill descent control.
Starting price for the base Maverick will be $25,900.
Honda Civic hatchback
Honda is set to introduce its latest hatchback iteration of the Civic, the best-selling car in Canada. The original Civic hatchback is really the model that got the ball rolling for Honda, and it’s come and gone over the years, depending on Honda’s perception of the market.
The SiR hatchback, for example, was a future collectible almost as soon as it was introduced and, in my opinion, the best version ever of the Civic. Pity it was discontinued in the 1990s.
Honda is mum about most details of the new hatchback, but it will be built in North America. It will probably have a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an available six-speed manual transmission. It’s expected to debut sometime this fall.
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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