The Ford Maverick Tremor Is An Off-Road Mini-Truck That’s Possibly Too Cheap

Mav Trem Top

The Ford Escape-based Ford Maverick is a beloved little truck and proof that sometimes enthusiasts will put their money where their mouth is. The biggest drawback at the moment is not capability but accessibility;  it’s still too popular and therefore difficult to buy. The off-road-focused $2,995 Tremor package Ford just announced will not help this.

If you know what the Ford Bronco Sport Badlands is then you can guess what the Ford Maverick Tremor has, because they’re similar. Available only on the XLT and Lariat trims with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost motor and AWD, the Tremor adds the baby Bronco Badland’s twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a clutch-based “differential lock” feature that Ford says “can divert virtually all rear axle torque to either wheel.” The Maverick Tremor also gets “Trail Control,” which is Ford’s excellent off-road cruise control system.

2023 Ford Maverick Tremor

Additional key mechanical upgrades include a 1-inch lift, new front and rear shocks and springs, and a beefed up transmission cooler. Importantly, it comes with steel skid plates to protect vulnerable underbody components, and it also gets upgraded half-shafts to reduce the number of times would-be offroaders in Mavericks destroy themselves trying to keep up with Bronco Sasquatches.

As with other Tremor vehicles, there’s also the visual upgrades that consist of a lot of things painted orange and a new lower front fascia to improve approach angle. Neat.

2023 Ford Maverick Tremor

[Editor’s Note: Hi, it’s David, your off-road man, here. One thing I preach anytime we write about an off-road vehicle is the importance of favorable approach/breakover/departure angles. “Geometry is King,” I have tattooed to my lower back. It’s in this area that I think the Maverick Tremor offers its biggest improvement over the FX4. Approach angle jumps from 21.6 to 30.7, departure angle jumps one degree to 22.2, and breakover angle increases from 18.1 to 19.9. Ground clearance is up from 8.6 to 9.4. Generally, the ground clearance and approach angle (which is related) are the most important, since you can drag a belly over a mound with enough momentum and you can scrape the bottom of that rear hitch to your heart’s content. But you can’t just ram your front bumper into an obstacle; that would be called a frontal collision, and you’d set off your airbags. So the increase to 30.7, which is a great angle in this space, is a big deal, as it will let you get your wheels up steep hills/rocks/whatever. Even the departure and breakover angles aren’t horrible for anything with a bed, though the numbers don’t always tell the full tale. The rocker panels and rear quarter panels behind those rear tires look like rock-bait. Still, this little Tremor should be decent off-road. -DT]. 

2023 Ford Maverick Tremor

Here are the two key passages from this press release though, for me:

The 2023 Ford Maverick Tremor Off-Road Package costs $2,995 MSRP and Tremor Appearance Package costs $1,495. Both packages are available for ordering in September.

And:

Ford announced its retail order banks will be re-opening for Bronco Sport, Edge, Explorer and Ranger, on Aug. 2, and Maverick and Maverick Tremor will be available for retail order in September.

That seems like a lot of things for an awfully low price. The killer feature of the Maverick is not how it looks or how it performs or anything other than appearing to be a truck and doing a reasonable job performing like one in most situations at a price no one else seems willing or able to touch. Seriously, the base truck starts around $20 grand.

2023 Ford Maverick Tremor

Assuming one needs the XLT in EcoBoost and FX4 trim as a minimum, and assuming 2023 pricing isn’t outrageously increased, the Tremor can probably be had for around $30k after destination and before any markup. This is Toyota Tacoma SR5 territory, but that’s a fairly basic truck, and this Maverick should be much more livable, though we don’t quite yet know how the Tremor package affects fuel economy.

Mav Trem

Ford is saying you can order just about any Ford crossover-y thing you want on August 2nd, but the hearteningly popular and dishearteningly under-built Maverick will take another month and, even then, it won’t be built until sometime later this year.

2023 Ford Maverick Tremor

I am, conceptually, extremely onboard with the Maverick and it’s nice to have other people also appreciate what I appreciate. It does not always happen that way; Merkur has not been relaunched as a luxury sports car brand by Ford, for example.

The downside of having a thing you like become popular is suddenly the demand for that thing is much higher than it used to be (Courtney Barnett tickets cost more and sell out faster than they used to, for example).

The upside, of course, is that it keeps existing and you keep getting more of it. At some point nature will take its course and there will be a lot of these and prices will come down. The question is: How long can you (Matt Hardigree) wait?

[Editor’s Note: I just have to hand it to Ford’s PR team and photographers for including this strange, horror movie poster-like image in their press kit:

Mav Trem Horror

It’s so easy to imagine that mud as blood and then everything takes a very different turn. – JT]

All photos courtesy of Ford

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72 Responses

  1. I dig this. Looks awesome. I would happily buy one of these and then never take it off road, haters be damned.
    Unless, of course, the grocery store happens to be in the middle of a corn field, like a Dollar General.

      1. I know this wont make a hill of shit for sense…

        But I … always kinda liked Mel Gibson, specially the psycho he was in Lethal Weapon. I mean, cmon.. the dude is doin a job that makes ya crazy. SURE, ya gonna eat some dog biscuits. SURE, they could double for Scooby Snacks…

        SURE… they are made from PEOPLE FOOD…

        In a debate in Mel Gibson (from Lethal Weapon vs Kevin Bacon)…. (Bacon’s dad being a famous Engineer akin to Robert Moses —- I do appreciate Robert Moses Highly even though he has done some HEINOUS thngs) Id have to go with Mel.

  2. When David was invited to take a few different trims of Bronco Sport onto an off-road course chosen by Ford, they kept going into limp mode from overheating. I called the Bronco Sport a shitty Ford Escape for people who are too insecure to just buy an Escape. We’ll have to see if the Maverick Tremor fares any better off road since it is basically a boxy Ford Escape with an open cargo area.

    1. Pretty much this. I’d be interested in the Bronco Sport or possibly the Maverick Tremor but I do actually use my 4wd, mostly on sandy beaches. The fluid based AWD system seems to overheat very quickly in that situation which is a non starter for me. Shame about that.

    2. Well the Bronco Sport has an actual window that opens on the rear hatch, so that alone makes it superior to the Escape.
      I see them all over my town and I think they are handsome little cars. Who cares if they don’t offroad like a Bronco? They will get you to a camp site or ski hill, and might even stay in one piece past the warranty.

      1. Exactly. People just like to bitch. If the Bronco Sport were a capable offroader, people would bitch at the price, or they’d bitch at the on-road handling characteristics, or something else. You dare make a road oriented vehicle slightly more capable (but still relatively not-capable) offroad and people bitch that it isn’t more capable. If you want more capable, Ford offers it and calls it a Bronco. If you don’t want as capable, get the Bronco Sport.

        1. If you want to spend $3k for an off-road package on a vehicle that can’t handle off-roading, then knock yourself out. Ford was rolling in cash from all the marks who bought their Eddie Bauer edition SUVs back in the 90s. I’d just buy a regular Maverick and find a better use for the extra money. It’s a good deal for what you get as long as you don’t waste money on crap it doesn’t need and can’t use.

          1. Yes, I realize that it would cost far more than $3k to make a Maverick truely offroad capable. $3k is not a bad price for what this package offers, and it actually does appear to add some capability, and if you ask me, I think it improves the looks too. I just don’t get the complaints at all here. If you want offroad capable, consider a Ranger, Bronco, Wrangler, Gladiator… if you want a small, clearly road oriented, unibody pickup, this is your choice. If you want slight offroad improvements, this is it.

            Why are people acting like Ford is selling this as a mini-Raptor. They aren’t. It’s a Tremor, which has recently meant, “We added some orange bits, and some minor offroad bits, but it’s still largely the same vehicle as before.”

    1. I forgot I can’t edit comments. Anyway, this has some real improvements that it needed – the twin-clutch RDM, the PTU cooler, and skid plates. Still don’t think it’s up for real off-road use but it will be a nice light-duty softroader with cargo space. I wish someone would take the coupler from the RDM and move it to a beefed-up PTU and add an actual mechanical lock to it. All these little AWD soft-roaders need to make them actually useful off-road is a lockable center coupling. They have the torque, they finally have the gearing, but the tiny PTUs and clutches in the back can’t cope with heavy and consistent torque loads without thermal issues. Ford’s especially. A 2+ quart PTU with a mechanically locking clutch pack and an open RDM would be rad. A locking RDM would be even cooler, but I’ll take what I can get.

      This is yet another opportunity to say that I take issue with any manufacturer who puts “lock” buttons in their off-roaders that don’t actually lock anything. Call it MAX AWD or something. It ain’t a lock.

  3. not sure which worse, paying too much for a limited slip diff or paying half that for a 1 inch lifted Maverick that just looks like it has said diff. that is absurd to me.

  4. I’m looking at this thing and feel the need to make a dumb statement, because if I don’t then some other knucklehead invariably will – they should offer a standard gearbox option for the AWD version. The Bronco Sport has one, so why not this?

  5. I got to drive a Maverick Hybrid over the winter and I was rather impressed with it. It is actually much bigger in person that I thought it was going to be. I’d take mine in AWD with the 2 liter turbo, once they are plentiful enough that they’re not trying to add a market adjustment to the price.

    And this ends my first post on The Autopian. Good luck ladies and gentlemen, and good hunting.

  6. Did EVERYONE miss the statement by DT? Mr. Tracy has a tramp stamp on his lower back, “Geometry is King.” This information could bring a whole new following to this site.

    Knowing DT as we do, it is probably written backwards so he can read it himself in a mirror.

  7. When I checked the base model of this thing out… it was as stripper as it could get. I think it was 21g. Body and interior looked it. Then FERD tacked on an extra 5g in electronics on it.

    SO in other werds, instead of Ferd giving you interior stuff thats important (a decent quality interior, with colors, storage) they blow their wad of cash on a laptop screen in the center..

  8. I’m just happy this vehicle is popular enough to get special packages. We need more little trucks. I don’t need a ginormous monster truck to carry a bike or two in.

    Also, holy crap, this place feels like OG Jalop-topia.

  9. This is incredible. As the owner of an off-road-modified first gen Tacoma double cab, this seems like the next logical step. It’s a right-sized truck that will fit in garages and is easy to park. So stoked that they finally added a rear locker and a better front bumper. Out of all the new cars on sale today, this is the one I’d spring for.

  10. I dig this – the Bronco Sport Badlands is legitimately capable off-road. This actually has a slightly better approach angle (and a little more ground clearance) than the BSB, and the breakover is slightly worse, and the departure, as expected due to the pickup bed overhang, is a lot lower – but otherwise, the same equipment, for a great price.

  11. Something the article didn’t mention is that the Tremor package drops the payload capacity from 1500 lbs to 1200 lbs, and it can’t be specced with 4k Towing so the towing capacity is only 2000 lbs. The FX4 version gets the full beans in terms of payload and towing. I feel like you have to give up a lot of hauling capability for just a bit more offroad capability, and I know which of those I value more in a small truck.

    1. If you are hauling anything more than a small pop up camper, the Maverick is the wrong Ford anyway. If towing is a big part of your use case, you need a Ranger or an F150. The Maverick is really just a small car built with a cargo box in the back, instead of a hatchback or boot.

    2. In practice most AWD Mavericks are ballpark 1330 lbs payload with the hybrid/FWD closer to (or exceeding) the theoretical 1500 lbs. They calculate off the same GVWR so the weight of that PTU, driveshaft, and rear axle eat into the rating same as any optional bits.

  12. Hi, I’m just here to say I’m happy to see Matt Hardigree writing for The Autopian!

    He brought me out of the grays on the other site and I’ve always enjoyed his writing.

    This place keeps getting better! Looking forward to comment section improvements next!

  13. As dumb as it sounds, that front fascia change is HUGE for the appearance of the vehicle, it takes it from looking like a tiny home-gardener-Ridgeline to a proper truck with some chops.

    That said.. I really wish this (and the Bronco Sport) were about 2 inches wider. I loved everything about the Bronco Sport except that it felt like I was in a sandwich. (Yeah, I’m a beefy-ish guy). But my wife loves the room in my old 2006 Ridgeline, and won’t let me buy anything that’s less roomy. (I would have already bought a Passport, except Honda went to those stupid captain chair armrests.. I hate those).

  14. Not to shade what you just wrote Matt Hardigree but your name reminds me of someone we haven’t heard from in a while. Did Mack Hardigraw die? I want more taillight detective content as this is the only place I have ever seen the genre.

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