Because the all-new 2022 Ford Maverick compact crossover pickup is a different kind of truck to say the least, over 19-million miles of both real world and simulated testing was done to assure it can stand up to the expectations of truck buyers.
While it is based on a uni-body and more car-like architecture of a crossover SUV, it has a payload of 1,500 pounds and base towing capacity of 2,000 pounds with the base 2.5-liter Hybrid model. With the optional tow package on 2.0-liter EcoBoost, you can tow up to 4,000 pounds.
To be more than a one-hit wonder, the new Ford Maverick has to last but it also has to last fully used and abused.
To simulate rough roads and highway driving, the chassis rack can replay the rigor and rough of several road surfaces recorded and stored in the computer system – even washboard roads, to test the robustness of suspension and chassis components as well as the structure itself.
This testing while looking somewhat innocuous can be run 24 hours a day to see how exhaust hangers, dash boards, motor mounts and lots of other components hold up over time, see how long it takes the interior trim to rattle, and what will make the radiator support come loose.
Similarly, simulation testing is used to open and close doors repeatedly to repeat years worth of use to see how the hinges and hardware fares along with the tight attachment of things like door panels and switchgear. Power windows are rolled up and down, door locks constantly latched, and the doors opened and closed again some more. Seat surfaces are similarly tested for wear and tear by robotic machines.
Real world driving takes place at Ford’s various proving grounds in Michigan, Arizona and other locations around the country in various weather conditions from mild to harsh. Some testing is automated with self driving systems, a good deal more with actual driver control.
Test tracks include punishing sections to prove out suspension and chassis robustness, meaning how long will those bushings and ball joints last until they fail or how long does it take to drive like a POS.
Salt water baths and spray booths, sand and gravel surface testing, and deep dives through mud and water simulate years of winter and off-road driving conditions with the goal of seeing how drive components, chassis and body structures last for wear but more importantly corrosion.
Drivetrain performance and refinement are also fine tuned here. Pushing the trucks under load with weight in them, towing and even empty helps engineers to program the engine and transmission software to best meet customer expectations for things like noise, vibration and harshness no matter how they are used.
This repeated real world and simulated testing in theory brings trouble spots to the surface so that engineering teams can come up with manufacturing solutions to the problem areas before the vehicles make it to production.