In a recent press release, Ford told us about a cool new version of its small truck, the Maverick. In this article, I’m going to briefly describe what the Maverick Tremor is and then talk about what Ford really should do with the Maverick (offer some performance Mavericks with at least some electric range).
The Maverick Tremor
Don’t get me wrong. As a car enthusiast and someone who enjoys off-roading, and as someone who enjoyed a certain series of films featuring monsters that move underground, I like the Maverick Tremor.
The new Maverick Tremor is an inexpensive all-terrain vehicle for city dwellers looking for more off-road capacity and bold design in the same compact package. The Maverick Tremor is now available for the XLT and Lariat models of Ford trucks. It features functional and capable features while adhering to the family’s “eye-catching bold design.”
“Ranger, F-150 and Super Duty customers have embraced the unique off-road capability, technology and appearance updates found across our Tremor family of trucks,” said Todd Eckert, Ford truck product marketing and brand manager. “Maverick Tremor delivers on this same promise with new functions and features designed for off-roading — all while keeping the truck’s signature size, affordability, and Built Ford Tough durability and capability.”
The all-new Maverick is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and adds an all-wheel-drive system to the FX4 Off-Road Package, making it the first vehicle in its class with such capability. This sophisticated technology includes a twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock function that allows for greater off-road capacity. It can redirect virtually all rear axle torque to one of the wheels. Customers may quickly customize the on-road and off-road performance of Maverick Tremor to pavement, mud, sand, or snow with five selectable drive modes.
It has some other cool features, like Trail Control. Customers simply choose a speed, and then the truck handles throttle and braking to allow them to concentrate on steering through tough terrains like mud or dirt in this mode. It works similarly to cruise control for off-road driving. Customers only need to pick a speed, and the vehicle takes care of throttle and brakes so they can focus on steering through difficult circumstances such as muck or dust. I’ve tried this myself on a new Ford Bronco, and it works freakishly well.
A unique set of front and rear springs and shocks provides for greater off-road capability. These new shocks, as well as a 1-inch increase in ride height, aid in the new Maverick Tremor’s more aggressive attitude. A heavy-duty transmission cooler and beefed up half shafts add to off-road ability.
There’s also a Tremor appearance package you can add to the truck to give it a unique set of visual features to set it apart from the other Maverick trucks out there, so that’s a plus, too.
What Ford Didn’t Do (And Should Get On ASAP)
While the Maverick Tremor seems like a nice package for a compact truck, and it probably performs well like the company’s Bronco Sport (both are built on the company’s C2 platform), I think the Maverick really set the company on a new path that it isn’t following up on.
I say this because the hybrid Mavericks gave truck people something they’ve never really been able to take advantage of before: excellent fuel economy. With $5 gas, even my dad was trying to get one, and he’s normally into big diesel trucks. Having a vehicle that can get over 40 MPG in around town and still have the utility of a small truck (perfect for the construction, property maintenance, and landscape trades in many ways) is just too hard to not take a serious look at. Sure, electric small trucks would be even better, but the only way to do that would be to build your own Truckla (a custom Model 3 ute one woman built).
When my dad called the local Ford dealer (which is actually a pretty decent dealer), the salesman he usually works with laughed. He wasn’t mocking my dad or trying to be mean, but everyone wanted a Maverick a few months ago, and getting hold of a hybrid one was just impossible. The truck had come out at the perfect time, and Ford can’t build enough of them to satisfy demand. So, you’d think that Ford would work on expanding the electric side of the Maverick line with more electrified and BEV options.
In some ways, the Tremor was probably an opportunity for the company to really bank on that. One of the complaints about the hybrid Maverick is that it’s only available in front-wheel drive, while you can get a non-electrified version in all-wheel drive. Building a hybrid all-wheel drive version, with only electric power going to the rear wheels, would have given Ford a lot of options with how to optimize the power distribution, and ultimately produce a killer off-road vehicle.
I haven’t been under a Ford C2 vehicle long enough to be intimately familiar with it, but I’ve taken a peek under a few Bronco Sports and I’ve driven one around a bit. It seems like there’s some room in the platform for more battery. Also, the Escape Plugin Hybrid, with a 14.4 kWh pack and 37 miles of range, is a C2 vehicle, so it’s definitely something that’s in the cards for Ford.
To make it cheaper and more capable, Ford could avoid putting a driveline from the front to the rear wheels, and instead just electrify the rear differential. This would mean the vehicle could operate in direct gas drive on the highway for maximum efficiency on long trips, but also operate as rear-drive when taking off to maximize performance when on electric range. Or, when acting as a hybrid, leftover power from regen can provide power for the next takeoff from the light.
Ford could configure the behavior for such a drivetrain many ways, but it would probably enable them to use the same front drivetrain as the Escape PHEV, but with an added motor for the rear wheels when all-wheel drive is needed or wanted.
A Tremor truck that gets 35ish MPG in town, has 30ish miles of electric range, and can go off road would be a killer deal for many, many buyers. Hopefully Ford starts doing something like this in the future.
Featured image provided by Ford.
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