Ford's new Maverick might be next to no chance of coming to Australia, at least in the short term, but the new mid-size ute does point to an exciting future for the incoming Ford Ranger.
The Maverick is slightly smaller than the Ranger, and Ford says it targets customers who "didn't know they needed a truck" - which is code for saying it's a softer, more lifestyle-focused variant in the Blue Oval's broader truck range.
But it still gives us some clues about the rougher, tougher Ranger - namely it's hybrid powertrain.
Read more about the Ford Maverick
The Maverick is available with a straight-up petrol engine, but the powertrain that's attracting the most attention is its electrified offering, which pairs a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor for a total or around 140kW, with that power sent exclusively to the front wheels. And that means impressive fuel consumption, with Ford promising the Maverick will sip around 6.5L/100km.
And sure, FWD is as popular as a tax audit in Australia, but Ford says an electrified 4WD version is also on the table, and could go into production if buyer demand commands it.
So, hybrid utes are now very much a Ford thing, which lends credit to the reports that the new Ranger model will also appear with an electrified powertrain, be it hybrid, PHEV or BEV. In fact, Ford Europe's GM of commercial vehicles, Hans Schep, has even put a date on it, promising a zero-emissions Ford Ranger by 2025. And if the Maverick tells us anything, it's that hybrid technology is absolutely coming sooner rather than later to one of Australia's most popular utes.
Exactly how that will work with a Ranger remains to be seen, though, given the Maverick Hybrid's towing capacity is less than 1000kg, and its max payload sits at 680kg. For reference, the pure-petrol Maverick can tow up to 1.8 tonne, so while Ford can certainly electrify utes, in this instance it hasn't been able to do it without sacrificing capability.
The Maverick is also cheap. Really cheap, with a base starting MSRP of $19,995 (roughly $26k in Australia money).
But perhaps the biggest hints come from the Maverick's tech offering, with the top-spec vehicles offering technology still foreign to Toyota's ute line-up, like a Bang and Olufsen stereo, a wireless charge pad for your mobile, a fully customisable tray, power outlets everywhere to charge your bike or camping equipment, clever under seat secure storage and car-like features throughout.
Expect most, if not all, of this premium tech to make its way into the new Ranger line-up, too. Speaking of which, with Ford having now unveiled F-150 and Maverick, the clock is counting down to the new Ranger, too.
Watch this space.