Maverick? It’s top gun. There’s a case to be made that the 2023 Ford Maverick is the best truck on sale in America today. It’s certainly hard to beat on value. For little more than $23,500, you can drive home in a brand-new truck that feels more like a car – which isn’t surprising, as it shares much of its design and mechanicals with Ford’s Escape SUV. As such, this is the only pickup on today’s market you might actually enjoy driving.

All things are relative, of course. The Maverick’s most affordable configuration pairs a 2.5-liter gas engine with an electric motor, generating a modest 155 lb-ft of torque. However, because this is sent to the front wheels, traction isn’t a problem, even in winter. The installation of a CVT transmission ensures progress is smooth, if leisurely, while a combined fuel economy of almost 40 MPG is remarkable in this class.

Loads of space, and space for loads. Truck purists might start projecting their lower lip at this point and declaring that the Maverick isn’t a ‘proper’ load-lugger. Yet that argument doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny, even if its 54-inch bed is on the small side.

Move up to the two-liter turbocharged gas engine, and you’re looking at outputs of 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission helps to double the 2,000 lb trailer weight of the non-turbocharged engine, while the Maverick’s max payload stands at 1,500 lb and the tailgate alone can bear 400 lb. Ask yourself honestly, when was the last time you needed more than that from your current truck?

Works like a truck, drives like a car. Because the Maverick weighs a modest 3,600 lb, it makes the most of its available performance. Not coincidentally, the chassis delivers a class-best ride quality which could also embarrass many SUVs. If you like to sip a refreshing beverage as you drive along, you’re far less likely to arrive at journey’s end with stains on your top than you would do in Ford’s intolerably bouncy Ranger. Yet you don’t have to sacrifice the look-at-me machismo of normal trucks – the Maverick’s bluff nose and three-box profile are entirely conventional, with hints of Ranger and F-Series here and there. It also looks like a cohesive vehicle, unlike the deeply unappealing Nissan Frontier.

The Maverick even manages to inject some fun into driving, with responsive steering that helps you hustle it along. When the weather turns, most models offer multiple drive modes, and AWD is available. We can’t comment on safety because the Maverick hasn’t been crash tested, but it does offer automatic emergency braking as standard, even if features like blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise are banished to the options list.

Ford Maverick Truck Bed

Basic but functional cabin. Crew Cab is the only configuration on offer, and it is pretty basic in here. Plastics are of the kind commonly associated with children’s toys, and you’ll search in vain for big-truck features like a head-up display. The Maverick is more…well, unconventional. How many trucks come with 3D printing instructions to further subdivide the numerous bins and cubbies dotted around the cabin? Even the bed has twin bins and as many as ten tie-downs, plus interior rails and a power outlet.

The four-door Maverick is a slab-sided vehicle, but it does manage to offer accommodation for four, though rear occupants have to make do with less than 35 inches of legroom – or 36 in non-hybrid models. At least the doors are (a) large and (b) open wide. The dash is as plain as you’d expect at this price point, but even the cheapest Maverick comes with an eight-inch touchscreen and hybrid power. XLT models cost around $2,250 more with cruise control and a smarter interior, while affordable options packages can augment safety, practicality and luxury. We also acknowledge Ford’s use of bright colors and fabrics, which doesn’t improve the quality but does at least lighten the mood.

Final thoughts. It’s impossible not to like the Maverick. Rarely has a manufacturer nailed a sweet spot this successfully, balancing truck versatility with road manners that could shame some SUVs, all at a price many compacts struggle to match.

You have to accept some compromises on interior comfort and infotainment, but it’s hard to imagine many people needing to spend considerably more money on a RAM or Silverado when the Maverick performs its duties so diligently. Even a significant price hike from last year has failed to dent its value.

There’s enough choice in the range to suit most circumstances – for instance, the optional Tremor package bundles skid plates and a raised ride height to improve off-road prowess – while options packs are cheap and well-provisioned.

Drawbacks? Well, if you need to move a five-foot object, the 4.5-foot bed won’t suffice. If you have to tow an object weighing more than 4,000 lb, look elsewhere. If you must transport five or six adults, it’s not going to work. But how often do any of these statements apply to your life? For the vast majority of truck buyers, the Maverick is all they’ll ever need. Spending two or three times as much on a heavier and thirstier competitor seems almost daft.

Check 2023 Ford Maverick Prices Near You