Just because your Ford Maverick Hybrid is only front-wheel drive doesn’t mean you are relegated to life in the mall parking lots of the world. You can go out there, in the mud, down the trail, out into the wild. You just have to wear better boots.

As part of our off-road or “overlanding” upgrades to enhance the capabilities of our long-term test Ford Maverick Hybrid, we’ve added a set of Firestone Destination A/T2 tires as our most important asset to increase traction and confidence off the pavement.

A popular up-size for the Maverick, we chose 245/65 17 tires and mounted them to a new set of LPAventure LP5 alloy wheels. To give it an extra dose of ground clearance a leveling kit from Zone Offroad was added to the front suspension. In all we gained .5-inches of lift from the tire up-size and an additional .75-inch up front from the leveling kit. This makes for a a total of 1.25-inches at the front and .5-inches of additional ground clearance at the rear.

The Firestone Destination A/T2 tire is one the brand’s most popular models designed specifically for the goals we had in mind. With its tread design and compound, the tire offers above average on pavement handling and ride both dry and wet for everyday life. It’s tread design is moderately aggressive for a good deal more bite off the pavement.

It’s tread design features a continuous center rib that contributes to better grip and an on-center feel on the highway and around town. That center rib also helps divide and conquer in the wet, pushing water and mud to the sides and out toward the shoulders for a more efficient evacuation. This means it’s less prone to hydroplaning.

In our first thousand miles we found that ride and handling were not adversely affected on the pavement over the stock 225/65 17 Continental Pro Contacts that came on the Maverick. Grip was enhanced slightly by way of its wider tread and road noise only came up about .2 dB from stock tires on our 70 mph test loop.

The tires weigh 33 lbs each which is 9 more than the stock rubber. Our new wheels are 2 lbs less so the net weight gain per assembly is 7 pounds. This is slightly noticeable in the feel of its steering and braking which feels slightly heavier. Acceleration doesn’t seem to be affected negatively.

As to whether there is a hit on fuel economy, we can only share that anecdotally tire and wheel upgrades such as this typically increase fuel consumption by 1-3 mpg. In our case over 1000 miles we don’t have a definitive answer yet as our first three tanks were not representative of our normal driving scenario. We’ll have to fall back on anecdotal experience of others here.

The extra tall side wall does give a more compliant ride in the rough where we immediately noticed better grip and bite on the gravel roads and back trails in the desert outside of Phoenix. With the additional ground clearance and reach we found it easy to navigate up steep hills on rocky soil with loose dirt much more confidently than before.

Having only front-wheel drive, the extra added grip and grab is the magic weapon to increase capability and the tire accomplishes that in spades. The added combination of grip and clearance are proof that all-wheel drive is not always necessary in a world convinced that it is.