When the first mass-produced hybrids arrived in Canada 20-plus years ago, people thought they were either technological wonders or just plain weird. Today, hybrid powertrains are considered ordinary and are available in a wide variety of body styles. For the Best Hybrid category in the 2023 AutoTrader Awards, our winner is the Ford Maverick compact pickup truck.
Variety is right, and the Maverick earned the award over every other available hybrid in Canada including these finalists: the Ford F-150 Hybrid, Kia Sportage Hybrid, Lexus NXh, Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, Corolla Hybrid, RAV4 Hybrid, and Sienna minivan. Our jury of more than 20 expert automotive journalists from all over the country considered such factors as value, user-friendliness, driver satisfaction, safety, and efficiency when voting for a vehicle they feel confident recommending to their own family and friends.
This little trucklet, a four-door crew cab with four-foot-five (1,382 mm) bed, was an all-new model for 2022. Its self-charging hybrid system combines a 2.5L four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and battery, making a net 191 horsepower and with an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT). It only comes in front-wheel drive (FWD), mostly because adding all-wheel drive (AWD) would add weight and cost.
Instead, Ford also offers the Maverick with a turbocharged 2.0L engine and standard AWD. When properly equipped, that version can also tow twice the hybrid’s 2,000-lb capacity. But our jury gives a lot of weight to value, and the hybrid costs less than its gas-only sibling. You don’t get the AWD, of course, but it’s refreshing for fuel-conscious buyers not to face a premium for the hybrid model. The Maverick hybrid starts at a very reasonable $29,845 in XL trim, including delivery fee, and $32,445 in XLT trim.
Hybrids are all about fuel economy, of course, and the gas-electric Maverick is rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 6.3 L/100 km in combined driving, compared to 9.6 L/100 for its gas-only sibling. It’s a full hybrid, meaning it automatically switches between gasoline, electricity, or a combination of the two, depending on driving conditions.
But we like that the Maverick’s reason for being isn’t based solely on its driveline. Instead, it’s a fun-to-drive, easy-to-use, and very practical vehicle that just happens to be a hybrid. It’s a lifestyle truck, and full of little details. When I reviewed the hybrid, I noted its easy-to-clean interior, door pockets and handles designed so you can store a tall water bottle, phone holder, lots of little cubbies in the cabin, and lots of tie-downs in the bed.
Its size makes it easy to get in and out, and to reach items in the bed – even midsize trucks have grown so big that shorter people have to crawl up into them. But once you’re inside, the low hood and great visibility combine to create almost an optical illusion that you’re in a larger truck, albeit one that’s far easier to manoeuvre and park. AutoTrader’s own Road Test Editor Dan Ilika drove the gas-only version and noted that also, along with the fact that he had no problem getting his six-foot-three frame inside.
I said that “acceleration isn’t swift but it’s smooth and linear,” and it’s powerful enough for everyday driving. The steering is well-weighted, handling is responsive, and the turning circle is tight. It’s based on the platform from the Bronco Sport and Escape but “feels like a small truck, and that’s very much a compliment.” That’s important because Canadians love trucks, and a small, fun, fuel-efficient vehicle that feels like a truck is going to do well for itself.
The jury couldn’t compare the Maverick simply head-to-head with the other hybrids, because they’re from such diverse segments. Instead, jurors looked at how well each vehicle met the criteria, and the Maverick does so much right. We vote for vehicles we’d confidently recommend to family and friends. I would, and would even consider buying a Maverick myself.