DRIVEN: 2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Tremor AWD

Ford’s Garage isn’t owned or operated by Ford, instead a out of this world good sports bar BBQ joint in Dearborn, just in the shadow of the Ford World HQ compound. Get the Ribs, one-of-many great burgers, or the Brisket!

Note the Ford Model A truck in the background

Since its introduction a couple years back, the compact 4-door only Ford Maverick pickup has been hot property.  They’ve been tough to get and often sell for a premium over the window sticker MSRP.  There were all sorts of supply chain issues for certain components, and the recent UAW strike hasn’t helped matters much lately either.  I’ve been wanting to spend some quality time at the wheel of one, and what better place to do so other than Ford’s actual and spiritual home, Dearborn, Michigan, USA — if Detroit is America’s Motor City, then Dearborn is Ford City, USA — home to Ford’s World HQ, many of its most significant factory properties, the Henry Ford Museum complexes, and so many more significant places that plot the Ford family and corporate family trees.

Don’t miss Detroit’s fabulous Detroit Institute of Arts museum complex

Dial up whatever traction your needs and conditions warrant

Luckily, Ford’s media test fleet had a well-equipped Lariat Tremor example just awaiting my recent arrival into Michigan for a week of business and fun.  Lariat is the Mav’s top interior and equipment trim spec, and the Tremor option gives it all-wheel drive and other legit off-road cred.  My tester included the 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 rated at a plenty healthy 250 horsepower which comes matched only with a multi-mode 8-speed automatic transmission.  The cabin was roomy deluxe all the way with handsome, sturdy materials throughout.  The Tremor spec sport seats are attractive, durable looking, and very comfy and supportive.  In fact the entire cabin design and outfitting is appealing, easy to use, comfortable, and of high-quality materials, fit, finish, and assembly.  There are plenty of storage cubbies everywhere, lots of ports and places to plug in, charge, and connect, plus adequate room for five, plus meaningful underseat storage.

The Tremor package gives you a great looking set of 17-inch alloy wheels, all-wheel drive, beefier all-season tires, and some upgraded suspension tune.  You may recognize some of the Mav’s bits, bobs, and trappings, logical in that it shares its basic platform architecture with the Bronco Sport and Edge models, and that means it’s a unibody construction vehicle, not a body-on-frame design like big brothers F-Series and Super-Duty.  The hardest of core truck types love to criticize the Maverick for this, calling it “not a real truck” or simply an “SUV with the rear cargo area opened up.”  This isn’t entirely incorrect, nor is it entirely fair; the monocoque body/chassis architecture gives the Mav improved ride and handling habits you wouldn’t so easily find in an old Ranger, let’s say.

There’s really a turbocharger, and 250 horsepressures in there, I promise

Great use of materials inside and out

Ford has made marketplace hay with its various EcoBoost turbocharged engines, and this one, also shared with the Bronco Sport and Edge is a dandy.  Packing a flexible 250 horse and generous torque teamed with an efficient 8-speed automatic transmission that offers a gear ratio for every occasion, it’s not quick — its genuinely fast.  The transmission always seems to be in the right gear (or quickly finds it) to maximize the engine’s torque and powerband.  We had no difficulty meeting or beating the EPA’s 22 / 29 / 25 mpg ratings for this engine in AWD form.  You also won’t confuse the Maverick for a large, lumbering truck based on its quick, responsive steering, well controlled ride, and excellent handling.  Plus, it’s just a blast to drive.  Even traditional truck unlovers will feel more than comfortable at the wheel and might even smile a bit too.

Check out this clever bed mounted light and powerpoint combo

There’s thoughtful touches all about the cab and bed area too, in terms of storage, lighting, and as-moted powerpoints.  Visibility is excellent in all directions, it fits in a normal garage, and is easy to park.  Think of it as the urban truck that just does everything well, and should please everyone who drives or rides in it.  Yes, and of course, the bed isn’t as large as that of your neighbor’s Super-Duty Dually, but it doesn’t cost as much, burn as much fuel, or take up as much space either.

This cool hood graphic hints at the Tremor’s allroad intent

This trick wheel opening highlights not only looks nice, it points you directly to the air valve

Every time I review a new vehicle, people ask me if I’d buy one myself, with my own money.  In this case I can say “yes I would” and in fact, yes I have.  I’ve ordered a 2024 Maverick XLT that’ll look very similar to this one, and it’s in production as I write this.  So there, I’ve voted with my dollars, and I suspect once you spend some time in a Maverick, you will too.

As this unit was built for internal and marketing use only, there’s no pricing on this sticker, but when built out on Ford’s online configurator, it would carry an MSRP of about $40,000.