What’s in a name? In the case of the Ford Maverick, it was a popular compact car named after a free range, unbranded form of cattle. It’s also the term for an independent minded person. And when Ford decided go against the heard launching a compact truck, it was the right opportunity to bring back the nameplate.
But the compact car Maverick and compact truck Maverick share more than a name. Both vehicles have similar missions and operate in similar market conditions. Both attract similar buyers. And if the early indications prove out, the compact truck Maverick should be as popular as its car predecessor.
The original Maverick replaced the compact Falcon in Ford’s lineup. It shared its platform and drivetrains with the Falcon and first generation Mustang. Realizing the Falcon would not meet new safety standards, Ford redesigned the car. And because of the Falcon’s declining sales, they decided to rebrand it as the Maverick.
Launched in 1970, the Maverick compact car was an immediate success. It sold almost as many cars as the 1965 Ford Mustang in its first year and over 2.5 million units through 1977. It was cheap to buy. At $1995 it cost $500 more than the VW Beetle. It was also cheap to run. The six-cylinder engines proved easy to work on, durable, and got good gas mileage. Buyers wanting more power could opt for the 302 cubic inch V-8 which provided respectable performance. People liked its styling. And while some of the color names like Anti-Establish Mint and Hulla Blue targeted younger buyers, the Maverick appealed to people of all ages. Ford’s timing and product placement was about perfect with the original car. It entered the market just before the first fuel crisis, at a time when people wanted something stylish yet inexpensive.
Likewise, the Maverick truck shares a platform – this time with the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport. After killing off the Fiesta and Focus due to declining sales, Ford needed a new small, inexpensive vehicle for the U.S. market. Knowing that simply rebranding the Fiesta or Focus would not work, they decided to go with a compact truck. Continuing the trend of reviving nameplates like the Ranger and Bronco, Ford again went back to the past and came up with the Maverick.
Ford unveiled the Maverick compact truck 52 years after the original Maverick launch. By all accounts, it generated as much buzz as the original car. It also is inexpensive to buy. The $19,995 base price is less than the old Ford Ranger, when adjusted for inflation. That puts it in range of the Toyota Corolla, the car widely considered the modern day VW Beetle. If you want a truck for that money, you’ll have to buy used – the closest vehicle is either the Kia Soul or Ford’s own EcoSport. The new Maverick also gets good gas mileage – up to 40 mpg in town with the hybrid powertrain. And people seem to like its styling. It looks like a truck and not some weird four-door Subaru El Camino. Color names like Area 51 are fun too, and the Maverick appeals to people of all ages. Time will tell if the Maverick compact truck becomes as popular as its forbearer. But once again Ford’s timing and product placement seems about perfect. Launching the Maverick compact truck with higher gas prices on the horizon, at a time when people want a stylish yet inexpensive small vehicle.
Source: Ford Truck Enthusiasts
Photos: Ford Motor Co. and Hemmings Motor News