2023 Ford Maverick Tremor Review: A class of one

Cameron Neveu

Imagine, for a moment, that you really need a pickup.

You tow or haul constantly. You work in an environment where durability is critical. You have worn boots every waking hour since before you can remember, and possibly the hours before that.

If this is your life, you will not tootle on down to the nearest Ford dealer and buy yourself a Maverick. You will certainly not be interested in the rooty-tooty little Maverick Tremor, the new factory off-road model, $31,665 MSRP, with its cute little tow hooks and its one-inch lift over the base Maverick, with its serious-like-a-puppy black trim. 

You might spot a Tremor in a parking lot of your local Lowe’s and give a double-take, as your narrator did, when you see the Muppet-colored highlights on those 17-inch wheels.

Ford Maverick Tremor package wheel color pop detail
Cameron Neveu

That orange paint is clearly there, you would think, to help a person find their valve stems. 

What kind of person would lose track of their damn valve stems, you would ask yourself, shaking your head.

Reasonable question. But if you have to ask it, the Maverick is not for you. 

This is not so much truck as car in truck form. What an older internet would have called a pickup gone smol. The cab and body are a single unit, like a Honda Ridgeline shrunk in the wash. There is no ladder frame, merely a unibody that shares components with the Ford’s Escape crossover. Each of the Maverick’s two available engines is a four-cylinder. The base model is front-wheel drive. The base tow rating is a mere 1500 pounds.

Ford Maverick Tremor package rear truck bed
Cameron Neveu

The sum is perhaps the most logical answer for those who want a pickup but do not expressly require one for even occasional use.

The name rings so many bells. (This one. That one. Even a James Garner one!) The Maverick itself launched in late 2021 as a ’22 model. With the Tremor version, you might ask why Dearborn would off-road prep a light-duty trucklet for a demographic that historically spends little time on dirt. Outside a PowerPoint deck, the best answer is a point to the countless off-road packages fitted to small trucks in the past.

Plus, perhaps, a reminder that most owners of full-size dirt rigs—your Jeep Wranglers and Ford Raptors and such—do not exactly hit Baja every week.

The American car market: We buy what we like, for better or worse.

This site has covered the Maverick before; the basics remain solid. The interior is mostly hard textured plastic that feels inexpensive but also appropriate and durable. The 54-inch bed is genuinely small, maybe 30 inches too short to swallow a motorcycle with the tailgate up.

The $2995 Tremor package is available only on the upper two of the Maverick’s three trim levels (XLT and Lariat) and only with the Mav’s optional Advanced all-wheel-drive system. It brings the aforementioned lift and hooks, but also Falken all-terrain tires, off-road-specific drive modes, a torque-vectoring rear differential, and a front skid plate that allows for a steeper approach angle.

The steering is relatively quick but somehow carries a whiff of farm implement, which is nice. A 250-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four and eight-speed automatic is the only available drivetrain for the Maverick Tremor; the 2.0-liter can be a little coarse and moany, but it gives linear torque and nice, predictable throttle response. The eight-speed is often annoyingly abrupt, especially in take-up from a stop, and shifts can be sloppy and slappy.

In spite of all this, the Mav feels strangely and happily truckish in a way that—don’t laugh—recalls other trucklike non-trucks. Think Land Rovers, Mercedes G-wagens, modern Land Cruisers. The bones hide their roots well, something in how the whole package carries itself.

Ford Maverick Tremor package interior front steering wheel
Cameron Neveu

The hitch: No one who watches the used-car market can drive a Maverick without thinking about how the same cash would also buy a lightly used midsize pickup.

Same for truck people. My friend Zach Bowman is a journalist and former construction worker; he has spent his adult life driving and repairing used vehicles with cargo beds, and he drives a diesel Ram every day. A few weeks ago, I texted him a picture of our Tremor tester with some lame joke about the Ford Escape.

He shot back a quick reply:

“The Escape somehow makes you feel bad about life. The Maverick is the opposite.”

2023 Ford Maverick Tremor Lariat

  • Price: $31,665 / $37,465 (base XLT / as-tested )
  • Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbo I-4; eight-speed automatic
  • Output: 250 hp @ 5500 rpm, 277 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
  • Layout: Four-door, five-passenger, unibody pickup
  • Weight: 3800 pounds (est.)
  • EPA fuel economy: 20 city / 24 mpg highway, 21 mpg combined
  • 0–60 mph: 6.0 seconds (est.)

The Maverick’s appeal, we agreed, is hard to pin down but rooted partly in price. The base model, a 191-hp, front-drive hybrid, is just $23,690. Hagerty’s test Tremor, a loaner from Ford, was $37,465 with options, the other end of the scale.

“Thing is,” Zach said, “that’s basically F-150 money.” At that point, he asked, why not bring home a stripped-out new half-ton, with a normal bed and real work ability?

Ford Maverick Tremor package rear tailgate
Cameron Neveu

Later, I used Ford’s online configurator to build a bare-bones F-150, no options, cheap as it gets. The nearly $36,000 truck that resulted was a single-cab, two-wheel-drive two-seater with no tow pack, a 6.5-foot bed, vinyl floors, and a payload cap of 1935 pounds. A base Maverick has a 1500-pound max payload, the Tremor, 1200. Compared with the F-150, however, the Mav is far easier to park, quieter inside, and rides better. It cannot match the metrics of even a midsize truck—a Ford Ranger, a Chevrolet Colorado—but it will fit in almost any garage.

Metrics, of course, drive this corner of the industry. Tow rating might be the only one here that matters to ordinary people. A Tremor can pull just 2000 pounds. It cannot be optioned with the Maverick’s available 4000-pound tow package.

Ford maverick towing jet ski
“Carl, jet skis are not boats, and I am not going to start calling you ‘Captain.’ I might call you ‘my jerk neighbor with a jet ski,’ though. But only if you stop asking.” (Non-Tremor Maverick Hybrid XLT shown. Note scale, and relative size of jet ski: The Ford is not large.) Ford

Do those ordinary people know what that number means? A Toyota Camry can tow 1000 pounds. Most compact crossovers will lug between 1500 and 3000. Honda’s Odyssey minivan will drag around 3500 pounds. Bring home a Mav, you are pulling jet skis, small camper trailers, and boats too short for the neighbors to start calling you “Captain.” You could rent a U-Haul car trailer and hound the classifieds for vintage hoopties, but only if you get the tow pack, which means no Tremor.

Even then, you’d be limited to towing cars made mostly of air. U-Haul’s auto transporter is around 2200 pounds, which leaves 1800 pounds for . . . not much. An early Lotus Elise, maybe?

Again, these aren’t knocks; if you need more pickup than this, you’re looking elsewhere anyway.

Your narrator has needed exactly one pickup in his life, or maybe I just wanted the thing so badly that it felt like a need. A while back, I dove into an Oregon Craigslist and bought a low-mile 1990 Chevrolet K1500 Cheyenne short-bed—a rust-free, single-cab “grandfather” truck with a 350, rubber floors, and a clutch pedal. After I gave the Chevy new fluids and maybe $900 in parts, it helped move my small family across the country, from Washington State to East Tennessee.

I have loved other vehicles as much but never more. When I bought that Cheyenne, I told my wife it was to make our move easier, that we’d sell as soon as we were settled in the new place. That truck had no A/C, crank windows, and only two seat belts—genuine speed bumps if you have children and a spouse and like going places with them. 

loaded bmw 2002 project car behind chevrolet silverado cheyenne
The aforementioned 1990 Chevrolet K1500 towing a project car. Never has a single photograph so effectively shown one man’s capacity for both good and bad decisions.

A year after we landed in the Volunteer State, that Chevy was still in our driveway, parked next to my wife’s Volkswagen GTI. Selling it just seemed like a good way to make myself unhappy. The K1500 was a tool, a cross between an old dog and a cheap Camaro, always there and willing to help, stupid-simple fun to work on and huge fun around town.

A short-bed single-cab is only so useful, but still, we did so much. We towed cars to other states, hauled motorcycles and motorcycle parts and furniture, and took garbage to the dump. I replaced the clutch at home and fixed a cold-idle misfire, and finally, after acknowledging painful financial truth, sold the Chevy to its current owner, a gentleman farmer from Kentucky. Not a month goes by where I don’t talk myself out of calling him and trying to buy it back.

Ford Maverick Tremor package low angle rear three quarter
Cameron Neveu

The Tremor isn’t the same, won’t hit anything like the same notes. People will be drawn to it anyway. Even now, more than a year and a half into production, some Maverick models are heavily backordered, demand outstripping supply. Order a hybrid right now with no dealer markup or “market adjustment,” you’ll wait months. Ford Escapes, for what it’s worth, sit on dealer lots by the dozen. There is no line to buy a Ranger or an F-150.

Cheap practicality is some of the pull here but not all. The only sure-fire takeaway, it seems, is that trucks mean something to this country, and not always for the reasons we like to think.

Apropos of nothing: Have you ever noticed how camper and RV trailers inevitably wear names like Arctic Wolf Adventurer Razor B**tard, yet these trailers are invariably styled to resemble a horse suppository afraid of its own shadow? Why is that? (Another Ford-provided image included solely for scale, another non-Tremor Maverick.) Ford

Again, I don’t need a pickup. But the brain goes funny places when you spend time in one, no matter how small.

And so if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare out the window for a few minutes. When that’s done, I have to sit back down at my desk and try very much to not pick up the phone and call a very nice man in Kentucky about a machine that once felt very much like a horse.

Begging, like mascara on your valve stems, is never a good look.



2023 Ford Maverick Tremor Lariat

Price: $31,665 / $37,465 (base / as-tested*)

Highs: Easy to park, easy to see out of, easy to like. As much pickup as most people need. A way to get light off-road chops without buying another anodyne CUV/SUV/WTF blob.

Lows: Transmission can be irritatingly abrupt. You have to resist flipping the table when your Ford dealer uses the terms “market adjustment” and “six-month wait” in the same sentence.

Takeaway: A good thing, as Martha said. If you want something like this, nothing else will do—because there’s really nothing like it on the market.


*Tremor package ($2995) with mandatory Advanced all-wheel drive ($2220). Includes Tremor appearance package ($1495, with “carbonized” roof, door handles, and mirrors), splash guards ($180), Ford CO-Pilot360 safety assistance system ($650), and spray-in bedliner ($495). 





Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: 1970 Buick LeSabre Custom Convertible: Really Red


    Spoken like someone who has maybe never driven either. It’s different and fun, and more than a little practical. It’s also not just another SUV. Yeah, the quality is funky, but it’s a Mexico Ford. Volumes like this, I suspect they’ll get better with time. Fiestas were just Focuses with a smaller interior and quality issues, and nobody bashed them for not being real enough. Why the hate?

    Been in and all over one. Not impressed.

    FYI Mexico has nothing to do with the quality. Price point and the major cuts Ford has made to their engineering staff and budgets are killing them. Ford is in a world of hurt financially and it may not get better soon.

    When you lay off 8,000 people to find your EV program it is telling. Exs
    Especially when it is several years behind the others. The MachE and Lightning were just distractions tossed together.

    The Mach e has major wire issues. Th3 harness was never cut back to what it needed to be. The engineers are speaking out on the problems involved.

    If one needs a smaller truck buy a Colorado.

    You get what you pay for and in Fords case not even that.

    “the bones hide their roots well”

    Smells like deadline pressure. But as I’ve quoted before in a comment: “Even Homer nods.”

    The only reason I haven’t pulled the trigger on a hybrid XLT or Lariat is the markup and/or wait. It would be perfect for where I’m at right now and would replace 2 current vehicles in my driveway. It’s the perfect suburbanmobile – Commuter on the weekdays, Lowe’s on the weekends.

    As hyperV6 said it’s an Escape with a bed and quality issues. The former is why I bought it. I get over 40+ mpg in town all the time and 36 on the highway in my hybrid Lariat. I use it mostly as a car and occasionally as a truck. It’s comfortable to drive, quiet, and after a year of ownership and 8,000 miles I’ve had no quality issues and I expected something as a first year model is almost guaranteed quality issues. I pretty much wanted an Escape with a bed and high mpg. That is what I got. I didn’t want a truck. Couldn’t be happier!

    All in favor of lobbying Ford to change the name to “Ranchero?” Seems like that’s its closest spiritual ancestor.

    I remember when the Compass and Patriot were launched and everyone said they would ruin the Jeep name. I lost count of the number of folks who bought and loved these vehicles, even with pesky quality issues and hardly any off road ability. In that time I’ve met lots of folks who own Wranglers who couldn’t possibly get their wheels dirty. Most Americans drive cars to project an image. Sometimes that image is “I am not going spend a bunch of money on something I don’t need, no matter what you think, and I’m going to get my money out of it, and then some.” Those folks will buy this.

    Ignoring for a moment the infuriating $10K additional dealer markup, I really wanted a Maverick Tremor until I read a road test where they got 19 mpg. I can easily get that in a full size Hemi Ram.

    Are Ford dealers still bending over customers who want to get one. The dealers near me seem to only understand massive markups for fools on anything desireable.

    Yeah, I don’t understand it. I owned an Escape for several years and actually really liked it. It had towing of 3500 which was enough for my tent trailer and gear. But when I retired and upgraded to an actual trailer weighing in at about 4800, I needed a truck. I looked at the Mav, but no chance of towing my trailer. I was surprised. I ended up with a Nissan Frontier. Tows 6000 and has a 6 foot bed so it’s useful even when I am not camping. I would have rather bought a Ford since my Escape was a great vehicle, but no chance I was getting an F150 – too damn large.

    different strokes, literally, for different folks… this is todays ranchero/el camino.. I ran a Ridgeline for 7 years and was aware of its limitations, [ very few ] and if required borrowed or rented a 3/4 or 1 ton for the job at hand~ plus who want to pound their own ride? owned them all, dualies/diesels/ megacabsrelevant to what I was doing at the time..neighbour has the hybrid.. 3.4 litres per hundred km.. that holy shit in any language! Retired, garden work, drag folks around town, haul the aluminium boat convenience… still not giving up my tacoma…. and as stated by others…I wish I had an 96 vortex 350 shortie 4×4 gm… clearly the demand tells what the market, different strokes folks, want… let em eat cake!

    Haters are gonna hate, but Ford can’t build these fast enough, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Nothing else really matters, and though I’d never pay above MSRP for anything, there are those that will and are welcome to do so.

    Dunno why nobody (including Sam) mentions it, but the direct competition is the Hyundai Santa Cruz. Except the SC is better in every metric except gas mileage.

    This was the perfect vehicle for our needs – relatively small, good mileage, able to haul and tow anything we might need. We ordered a Maverick XLT hybrid in Nov of 2021 with a down payment. Unfortunately, both the dealer and Ford dropped the ball and the order was eventually dropped without even telling us. Ford has some serious issues with the way they have treated customers and I’m not ever likely to purchase from them again after this experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *