Because the new 2022 Ford Maverick comes standard as a hybrid, many of its prospective buyers have never driven or ever considered purchasing one before. This will be the very first hybrid for a vast many and they have a lot of questions about it.
There are those with basic 101 questions about how it works, what is it like to drive, does it need to be plugged in? And there are those well versed in hybrids they’ve already owned who want to know if Ford has a trustworthy system and they want to know specifics about it. So let me try to cover both ends of the spectrum here.
The Ford Maverick hybrid powertrain is composed of both the 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine and an eCVT transaxle.
Atkinson Cycle refers to a combustion cycle mode of operating for a gasoline engine that’s more fuel-efficient than a conventional Otto Cycle four-stroke engine and is defined by different valve, spark and fuel injection timing scenarios. Nuts and bolts mechanically speaking, an Atkinson Cycle engine is virtually identical to any other. No rocket science here.
As to the electrified transmission called eCVT, it’s not to be confused with a traditional gasoline powered CVT with pulleys and a belt that few people really like and many of which have bad reliability records. An eCVT is a completely different animal. Not the same thing at all in spite of a similar name.
An eCVT has no pulleys or belt but has a simple planetary gear set and two electric motors. One motor known as the eMotor provides your main electric driving power. The other smaller motor known as the motor-generator is used to start the engine, charge the high-voltage battery, provide regenerative braking, and performs other power balancing functions. While it sounds like voodoo science, it’s remarkably simple and has about a third the moving parts of a conventional automatic transmission.
In driving behaviors, first we don’t “start” a hybrid. We “power on” a hybrid. Think of it like turning on your phone or computer. When you turn the ignition key or press a start button depending on your trim grade, a “ready” indicator on the instrument cluster will light up letting you know you’re good to put it in gear and go.
Sometimes the engine will start up when you power on the Maverick, other times it may not. Usually unless you have extreme temperatures with the heat or AC turned on, the engine usually won’t actually start up until sometime after you get moving. Because hybrids use electrically powered air-conditioning, your AC will still blow cold even if the engine is not running.
When you’re driving, the computer decides how and when to send power to the wheels from either the gasoline engine or the eMotor, and sometimes both depending on the needs of your situation. At slower speeds in stop and go traffic it’s very common to be operating on electric-only power as this is when the gasoline engine is least fuel efficient.
When you ask for stronger acceleration and when traveling at highway speeds, most often the gasoline engine will be on and delivering the bulk of the power you need. The gasoline engine and eMotor are constantly yet seamlessly trading places or sharing the workload.
When you apply the brakes, the computer balances the use of its hydraulic brake system and adds additional braking power from the motor-generator to create what we call regenerative braking. This is one of the various ways the battery is continuously being recharged. Because of the motor-generator always throwing power back to the high-voltage battery pack during coasting, engine idle and during regenerative braking, the Maverick hybrid doesn’t need to be plugged in.
How does this all feel? While I haven’t driven the Maverick specifically, I’ve driven other Ford hybrids with the same system and I can say that they deliver a smooth power stream across the entire driving range. Torque is good and the gasoline engine cycling in and out is usually very refined often such that you sometimes never notice when its on or off unless you are pedal to the metal.
One thing is missing though, the sensation of gear shifts. In this one area the hybrid eCVT resembles the feel and sometimes sounds of a conventional gasoline CVT equipped car though they share nothing else in common mechanically.
Unlike some hybrids, Maverick doesn’t have a driver selectable “EV mode”. While it can run on electric only power, you yourself cannot tell it to do so. Further, Ford doesn’t list a top speed for electric only power but it can do so in a wide variety of situations, even sustaining higher speeds with the engine off when conditions permit – a phenomenon called “sailing”.
Fords hybrid drivetrain
There are many misnomers and concerns out there about Ford’s hybrid system that are found online in various forums and chat rooms. Some people think Toyota makes it or engineered it, others think it’s an all new science experiment by Ford and should be looked at with a skeptical eye.
The fact is that the hybrid powertrain in the Maverick is the latest generation of Ford’s in-house designed and built system that has been in production and well proven for a decade in several other Ford and Lincoln models.
The Maverick uses what is called the HF45 e-transaxle built at their Van Dyke Electric Powertain Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan. It’s a variation of the same transaxle currently used in the Ford Escape hybrid. The previous generation HF35 transaxle was used in the Ford Fusion, C-Max, and Lincoln MKZ just to name a few.
The one thing that is new in the Maverick’s HF45 e-transaxle is the previously mentioned eMotor which Ford has designed and now builds in-house at Van Dyke instead of outsourcing from a supplier. In such, the new eMotor is more efficient, quieter, less expensive and actually produces more power that makes it more suitable for use in a pickup truck.
It has 126 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque. Combined with the 2.5-liter gasoline engine which has itself 162 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque, Ford publishes a total blended system horsepower maximum at 191.
There are two batteries, a conventional 12-volt battery which powers all of the on-board accessories like lighting, audio, the computers, HVAC and the like which is located under the back seat of the Maverick inside the passenger compartment.
The lithium-ion hybrid battery pack is located under the rear passenger side floorboard and is virtually identical to that found in the Ford Escape hybrid and it is manufactured in Rawsonville, Michigan.
DIY maintenance on the Maverick hybrid
Many people have been asking if they can maintain the Maverick hybrid or work on it just the same as a traditional gasoline powered one and the answer is simply yes. The 2.5-liter gasoline engine is little different from any other and thus owners can change oil and filters just the same and just as easily. Just steer clear of the orange high voltage wiring as mishandling it can kill you.
Replacing brake pads is the the same process as a non-hybrid car in-spite of the scary sounding regenerative braking system they talk of. Brake discs, calipers and pads are the same and servicing them is the same. Regenerative braking takes place in the eCVT and doesn’t make the brakes pads, calipers or discs any different.
The eCVT isn’t technically user serviceable but neither are most traditional automatic transaxles. And the thing to know about the eCVT is that it it has about a third the moving parts as a conventional transaxle and thus there is far less to go wrong, wear out and require routine service.
The hybrid high-voltage battery doesn’t require any routine maintenance and like the eCVT is not user serviceable. At some point in the vehicle’s lifetime the high-voltage battery could need replacement but keep in mind that it and the rest of the hybrid system components described here in the Ford Maverick are covered by an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty.