2022 Ford Maverick vs. Hyundai Santa Cruz and Honda Ridgeline: Small trucks compared – Roadshow

The latest little truck from Ford, the Maverick.


Ford

Rejoice, little truck lovers, for thy time is finally nigh! The new 2022 Ford Maverick is looking to dominate America’s nascent trucklette market, and I am 100% here for it. In a world where today’s midsize trucks are giants — the Jeep Gladiator is 218 inches long, for Pete’s sake — there are people who just want a small truck that can haul cargo while still being maneuverable enough to tackle crowded city streets. After years of waiting, those trucks are nearly here. 

With the 2022 Ford Maverick, we finally have a competitor for the recently revealed 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. Both of these trucks are smaller than the only other unibody pickup on the market, the Honda Ridgeline, but let’s take a close look at all three and see how these surprisingly different trucks compare.


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2022 Ford Maverick: Big truck features, pint-sized package

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Size

The 2022 Maverick comes smack in between the competition at 199.7 inches long, riding on a 121.1-inch wheelbase. The Ridgeline is much bigger, sitting at 210.2 inches with a 125.2-inch wheelbase. The Santa Cruz comes much closer to the Maverick, measuring 195.7 inches long with a 118.3-inch wheelbase. 

These little trucks with their relatively short wheelbases have some pretty tight turning radii. The Maverick can flip a U-turn in just 40 feet, while the Ridgeline can do it in 43 feet. The Santa Cruz matches the Maverick with a turning diameter of 40 feet. 

Size

Ford Maverick Hyundai Santa Cruz Honda Ridgeline
Wheelbase 121.1 inches 118.3 inches 125.2 inches
Length 199.7 inches 195.7 inches 210.2 inches
Turning radius 40 feet 40 feet 43 feet

Performance

When it comes to what’s under the hood, the Ford Maverick is the only truckini to come standard with a hybrid powertrain. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a 94-kW electric motor produces 191 total horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. This front-wheel-drive setup is mated to a continuously variable transmission and estimated to return 40 mpg in the city. That’s a stellar, unprecedented figure, but Ford also isn’t sharing the Mav’s highway efficiency rating right now. 

Alternatively, you can opt for a traditional nonhybridized, 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost I4 engine with 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. Here you’ll get an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. Ford hasn’t released any fuel economy estimates for this model yet, but it’s reasonable to expect they’ll be a lot lower than the FWD-only hybrid powertrain.

The Honda Ridgeline is only offered with AWD and a standard 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 producing 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. A conventional nine-speed automatic transmission puts the power down to the pavement. The EPA gives the Ridgeline a fuel economy rating of 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. In light of the Maverick’s 40-mpg city rating, the Ridgeline looks like an egregious gas guzzler, but the truth is, in size, price and ambition, these trucks aren’t particularly comparable.

Hyundai’s little Santa Cruz gets two engine options, starting with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 191 hp and 181 lb-ft, mated to a continuously variable transmission. However, you can go big with an added turbocharger, upping the power to 281 hp and 311 lb-ft. Even better, that upgraded engine gets an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. As for fuel economy, look for the smaller engine to return 21 mpg in the city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with all-wheel drive. The front-wheel-drive model gets 1 mpg worse on the highway and the turbo engine sits at 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.

Performance

Maverick Hybrid Maverick EcoBoost Santa Cruz Santa Cruz Turbo Ridgeline
Engine 2.5-liter hybrid I4 2.0-liter turbo I4 2.5-liter I4 2.5-liter turbo I4 3.5-liter V6
Power 191 hp 250 hp 191 hp 281 hp 280 hp
Torque 155 lb-ft 277 lb-ft 181 lb-ft 311 lb-ft 262 lb-ft
Transmission CVT 8-speed auto CVT 8-speed DCT 9-speed auto
Fuel economy 40 mpg city (est.) TBD 27 mpg combined 27 mpg combined 24 mpg combined

Payload and towing

Don’t expect mega-high numbers here, but these little unibody rigs have enough utility for most people. The Maverick sports a 4.5-foot bed that can carry up to 1,500 pounds. The standard engine can tow a modest 2,000 pounds, but if you upgrade to the turbo mill and add a tow package, you can drag 4,000 pounds behind the Maverick — enough for a 21-foot boat or a decent travel trailer. Not too shabby.

The Ridgeline has a 5-foot, 4-inch bed that can haul a max of 1,583 pounds. It also has a 33.9-cubic-foot lockable storage compartment with a drain, so bring on the ice and beverages. The Honda can tow 5,000 pounds, enough to drag an open trailer and a small race car out for a day of testing without any problems. 

The Santa Cruz’s bed is a tiny 4 feet, 4 inches, and it can carry 1,748 pounds of payload. Like the Ridgeline it has a lockable storage compartment with a drain. Further, the towing capacity is surprisingly strong. The smallest trucklette with its standard engine can tow 3,500 pounds while the turbocharged four-pot can tow 5,000 pounds.

Payload and towing

Ford Maverick Hyundai Santa Cruz Honda Ridgeline
Bed length 4 feet, 6 inches 4 feet, 4 inches 5 feet, 4 inches
Max payload 1,500 pounds 1,785 pounds 1,583 pounds
Max towing 4,000 pounds 5,000 pounds 5,000 pounds

Pricing

So, where are we on price? The Ford Maverick starts at $21,490 including $1,495 for destination, which is an astonishingly low price considering how much utility you get. 

The Ridgeline looks really expensive by comparison, starting at $37,665 including $1,175 for destination, but again, the larger, more powerful and more luxurious Ridgeline seems to be playing for a much different buyer. Even the top-shelf AWD Ford Maverick 2.0 First Edition is slightly cheaper, at $38,480 including destination. Hyundai has not released pricing for the Santa Cruz, but we should know more later this year. 

Pricing

Maverick Hybrid Maverick EcoBoost Santa Cruz Ridgeline
Base price (incl. dest.) $21,490 $22,575 TBD $37,665

Ford will release the new Bronco and the all-electric F-150 Lightning this year, but don’t discount the importance or sales potential of the little Maverick. With its low price, excellent fuel economy and supercool features like its innovative Flexbed, the Maverick looks to be an unbeatable value — as long as the drive experience doesn’t leave us wanting.

With its bargain-basement pricing, the Maverick’s hybrid model actually compares pretty favorably with a completely different type of cross-shop, including compact passenger cars like the Honda Civic and even used cars. We’ll be able to make a better prediction about how well the Ford lines up against the Hyundai when when we get pricing info for the Santa Cruz, but for now, we’ll just say the unibody truck wars are here. Hallelujah.

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