2022 Ford Maverick is a $20k hybrid pickup for a new type of truck owner

The 2022 Ford Maverick is the truck, the automaker says, for those who didn't know they wanted a truck, and with a hybrid engine as standard despite a starting price around $20k, it could be right. Announced today, this baby brother to the Ford F-150 and Ranger brings back a classic nameplate for a modern pickup, including a serious nod to the maker community.

The old Maverick badge was attached to SUVs for most of its time, but things are changing this time around. Here, it's America's first standard full-hybrid pickup, and Ford says it'll also be the most fuel-efficient: in fact, it's estimating 40 mpg on the EPA's city rating, and 37 mpg combined.

That's not just impressive for a pickup, it's downright remarkable. You can credit a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder hybrid drivetrain for that, with gas and electric power good for 191 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. There's a continuously variable transmission driving the front wheels, and an in-house design for the electric traction motor.

The hybrid should be capable of 500 miles of driving on a full tank, but also 1,500 pounds of payload capacity and up to 2,000 pounds of towing capacity. For those who want more, a 2.0-liter EcoBoost gas engine will be offered, with 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. It'll use an 8-speed automatic transmission and be offered in either front- or all-wheel drive. Normally it'll be rated to tow the same 2,000 pounds, but with the 4K Tow Package the EcoBoost will be capable of towing up to 4,000 pounds.

Outside, it's a blend of familiar and new. Drop-down side windows in a nod to the bigger F-150, along with standard LED headlamps and a bold grille design. There'll be three trims – XL, XLT, and Lariat; the all-wheel drive XLT and Lariat models will be offered with an optional FX4 package. That throws on all-terrain tires and suspension tuning, along with extra underbody protection, and the addition of Mud/Rut and Sand settings to the Normal/Eco/Sport/Slippery/Tow & Haul drive modes, along with Hill Descent Control.

There's a single 4.5 foot bed option, but Ford insists that doesn't limit usability. Dubbed FLEXBED, it's designed to be split up into zones or adapt to fit commonly-hauled items: you can slide 2x4s or 2x6s into slots stamped into the bed-sides, and then combine that with the two tie-downs, four D-rings, and built-in threaded holes to clamp bikes, kayaks, and other things down.

Ford will offer a cargo management system, but the automaker has also made it so those with a little more enthusiasm for DIY can effectively craft their own from the sort of items you'd expect to find at Home Depot. There'll even be an online guide with ideas of how to customize the pickup's bed.

For example, there's a standard 12-volt electrical power connection on either side of the back of the bed, placed there with DIY electrical projects like box lighting in mind. Again, Ford will have an off-the-shelf option, or you can install your own. Two further outlets – delivering 120V and 400W – are included, one in the bed and the other in the cabin. A storage cubby in the side of the bed on the XLT – and two on the Lariat – is sized for a ball hitch or air pump.

Drop the tailgate, and the bed is extended to 6 foot in length. The tailgate can also latch in a half-open position – at which point it can support up to 18 sheets of 4x8 three-quarter-inch plywood without angling them – and there are integrated tie-down clamps (which double as bottle-openers). It's rated to support 500 pounds.

While it may have chunky looks, the actual dimensions are unexpectedly slight. The Maverick is 199.7 inches long and 68.7 inches high: a Ford Ranger, in contrast, is 210.8 inches long and 71.1 inches high, while an F-150 is 231.7 inches long and 75.6 inches high. Ford uses that to good effect, with the Maverick boasting a 40 foot curb-to-curb turning circle.

Inside, the flexibility promises to continue. There's an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen as standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a standard 4G LTE modem and WiFi hotspot support for up to 10 devices. A wireless phone charger will be optional, and Lariat trim will offer SYNC 3 as an option, along with an 8-speaker B&O audio system. Ford has used some unusual materials, too: some sections use reground carbon fiber, while others have stone-like synthetic as you might find on a high-end countertop.

There should be no shortage of storage here either. The door armrests are split so that a one-liter bottle will fit, while the door pockets are sized to fit a tablet or laptop. The rear bench optionally hides a large storage bin underneath, while those in the back get FITS (Ford Integrated Tether System) with different pieces like hooks, cupholders, and more that slot into place. Another FITS slot is included at the back of the front console, and Ford says it plans to release the slot geometry so that those with 3D printers can create their own accessories.

On the safety side, Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard. That includes Pre-collision assistance with automatic emergency braking, and auto high-beams; options will be adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warnings with cross-traffic alerts, lane centering, and evasive steering assistance.

For the first model year only, Ford will offer the 2022 Maverick First Edition package. Based on the Maverick Lariat, it'll have unique graphics on the hood and doors, a roof finished in high-gloss black, a soft tonneau cover, body-color door handles, high-gloss black skull caps, and either 18-inch (on the hybrid) or 17-inch (on the EcoBoost) wheels. Ford will offer it in Carbonized Gray, Area 51, or Rapid Red.

The 2022 Maverick will go on sale this fall, with reservations being open from today. It'll be priced from $19,995 (plus destination), with full pricing confirmed closer to release.