Car and Driver 10 Best Trucks and SUVs
From the January 2024 issue of Car and driver.
For the past two decades, the slogan has seemed to be: “The only good small truck is a big truck.” Everything in this broad category has gotten bigger, from the “one-ton” heavy trucks at the top to the “half-ton” trucks in the middle to the “compact” trucks at the bottom. The fact that these titles seem laughable today underscores this point. This enlargement in the name of payload and towing created a void at the bottom, a white space in the product landscape into which the Ford Maverick neatly slides.
The first time we drove a Cyber Orange Maverick hybrid to a gas station, we were swarmed by a group of people, from three different pumps, all wanting to know more, as if this were some exotic Lamborghini. “Is this a hybrid?” “What kind of fuel economy are you getting?” “It has a bigger bed than I imagined.” Clearly, Ford has struck gold with the Maverick.
As for the Maverick’s unibody and front-wheel-drive roots, the SUV market has warmly embraced such crossovers, moving body-on-frame products to the heavy-duty end of the spectrum. The smoother ride, lighter weight, and inherently better fuel economy were bound to carry over – dare we say it – to the pickup segment.
The Maverick uses a stretched-wheelbase version of the unibody platform that underpins the Bronco Sport and Escape. The interior is uniquely designed with hard plastic that is designed in interesting ways. It’s only available as a crew cab, but since it’s truly compact, few will have to bemoan its somewhat cramped rear-seat dimensions. We’re glad the designers didn’t harp on this too much as it allows for a nice sized, square, deep-sided bed capable of holding a surprising amount. The Maverick is a fully functional pickup, which is something we can’t always say about a Hyundai Santa Cruz.
The front-wheel-drive-only hybrid that’s gotten all the attention earns 37 mpg combined (42 city/33 highway) thanks to its 2.5-liter four-cylinder electric motors. The 2.0-liter turbocharged models deliver 26 mpg combined and 30 mpg highway (with front-wheel drive) or 25 mpg combined and 29 mpg highway (with all-wheel drive). For the less traveled trail, the off-road-focused Tremor package comes with a raised stance, taller all-terrain tires, and a torque-vectoring rear differential. What they all have in common is a gentle nature and agile maneuverability that is absent from bulbous minivans. Perhaps thinking bigger is better has already come to an end.
Back to the top 10
2024 Ford Maverick
162-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 + 2 AC (191-hp inline), 250-hp turbo 2.0-liter inline-4; Continuously variable automatic, 8-speed automatic
grandfather Test results
60 mph: 5.9-7.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.5-15.9 seconds
Top speed: 109-110 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 158-172 ft
Road Grip, 300′ Ski Pad: 0.80-0.82 g
EPA Combo/City/Highway: 21–37/20–42/24–33 mpg
Dan Edmunds was born into cars, but not as you might think. His father was a retired racing driver who opened Autoresearch, a race car building shop, where Dan gained extensive metal fabrication experience. Engineering school followed, then SCCA Showroom Stock racing, a combination that landed him suspension development jobs at two different automakers. His writing career began when Edmunds.com (no relation) selected him to build their quiz section.