By Jerry Vo and Jodi Lai
For the first time in AutoTrader Awards history, the venerable Ford F-150 has been knocked from its Best Overall Truck throne, but not by a competitor brand. As trucks get bigger and more expensive, it seems our group of more than 20 automotive journalists from across the country have taken note, and have voted the compact Ford Maverick as the winner of the coveted Best Overall Truck award for 2023.
Receiving the most votes from our jury over any other truck regardless of segment or size, the Ford Maverick represents a right-sized and efficient vehicle our jury can confidently recommend to their own family and friends. That’s not to say the Ford F-150, which still won in the full-size truck category, isn’t a fantastic truck in its own right, but that the Maverick is just that impressive and relevant. The truck simply makes practical sense for a ton of Canadian drivers.
With the prices and sizes of mid-sized and full-sized trucks getting more and more inflated, it puts many of them out of reach for many Canadians who still need the added practicality and capability a truck offers. Luckily, Ford has answered the call for a right-sized and affordable pickup truck that doesn’t skimp on practicality, and the Maverick gets so much right in terms of what AutoTrader judges are looking for when voting on the best trucks.
When evaluating a vehicle’s merits, there’s good cheap and there’s bad cheap. The Ford Maverick is the good kind of cheap that offers incredible bang for the buck, as opposed to excessive cost-cutting that can ruin the overall experience. With a base price of $27,750, the little Ford pickup shares a platform and engines with the Escape compact crossover, and undercuts the next closest compact truck, the Hyundai Santa Cruz, by more than $10,000.
It’s a truly good light-duty pickup truck that will be ideal for use in and around the city, or for commercial fleets where the half-ton towing and payload capacity war isn’t needed. With a length of 5,072 millimetres, the Maverick is barely longer than a midsize three-row crossover SUV, and while the bed is only four and a half feet, it does help greatly with maneuverability in tight spaces. Even with its small stature and car-based underpinnings, towing and hauling with the Ford Maverick isn’t bad at all: towing capacity is 907 kilograms (2,000 pounds), and gets upped to 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) with the 4K Towing Package. Payload capacity is 680 kg (1,500 lb) for all engines and trim levels.
The interior is a smartly put-together environment where function and form are both present without driving up the price. For the avid do-it-yourselfer, Ford has released computer-aided design (CAD) files so that consumers can 3D print their own interior accessories with the Ford Integrated Tether System (FITS). These accessories can attach to the rear of the centre console, as well as the under-seat storage bins.
At a hair under $28,000, the base Maverick comes with front-wheel drive and a hybrid electric powertrain. The hybrid is good for an efficient 5.4 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 7.1 L/100 km on the highway, which should grab the attention of fleet managers everywhere. For a couple grand extra, there’s a 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that gets paired with all-wheel drive. It’s not the most refined unit, but that’s OK given the price, and it helps that it can haul when called upon.
Top-shelf Mavericks ring in at a bit over $40,000, which is close to a base Hyundai Santa Cruz. They are great to live with day-to-day, with an airy cabin with an actually useful back seat (usually not the case with other extended cab trucks) and everything that a small pickup buyer is looking for. When Ford discontinued the previous-generation Ranger in 2012, it left a big hole in the market. A decade later, the Maverick has answered that call, and if you can get your hands on one, you can bet that it’ll serve you well.