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Ford Maverick Pickup Pricing Dilemma

2 Maverick pickups

The 2022 Ford Maverick has good small-truck styling and stance. (Photos courtesy of Ford)


I grew up with a 1969 F100 on the farm and I still like pickups no matter how ugly or bad they smell. But they have gotten just too damn big, cumbersome and expensive.

Writing my story about the 2022 Ford Maverick, a possible return to pickup sanity, I considered how this good-looking compact might fit in my city life.

I don’t like the Ford Ranger. It’s too expensive and too cheaply outfitted, which is Ford’s plan to keep its F-150 the top-selling nameplate. And, to me, the Ranger felt to be an Americanized convert from another country, which it is.

Maybe the Maverick could be a truck for me.

I considered the midrange hybrid XLT 4WD, which starts at $23,775, including the freight charge from Mexico. But in spec’ing out “my” truck at, I learned that 4WD is only available with the turbocharged 2.0 four-cylinder. That preference would add $3,305 for the engine and AWD and it pushed the starting price to $27,080.

I’ve lived with a front-drive 2008 Ford Escape since 2012 (and have had no major problems with it), so I figured I can let go of my wish for 4WD. And maybe there would be fewer electronic issues with the higher-tech features on the Lariat.

After noting the many compromises in “building” my Maverick, I pushed ahead.

I checked the box for a Maverick XLT SuperCrew hybrid in the no-cost color of Velocity Blue. Among the 10 color choices, Cyber Orange has a $495 premium and Alto Blue and Hot Pepper Red are $390 upgrades. Standard no-charge colors are black, silver, white, Area 51 (a medium gray), Cactus Gray (more the hue of caulking putty) and Carbonized Gray (a darker gray).

The hybrid powertrain was more important to me than 4WD. And I preferred the XLT’s two-tone Navy Pier fabric upholstery because Ford Leather is just ‘meh’ in appearance after a few months of use.

Prickly Price Points

I then added my picks for option packages and accessory items that were permitted for that trim level:

•Ford Co-Pilot360 driver-assist systems $540;

•XLT luxury package ($2,345), which included such features as eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, 400-watt inverter, bed tiedown locking rails, spray-in bedliner, full-size spare, heated side mirrors with body-color skull caps, heated seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED bed lighting and trailer hitch.

•Manual rear sliding window $155;

•Dual bed lights $200;

•Cargo bed net $70;

•All-weather floor liners (including carpeted mats) $175;

•Console vault $390

The options came to $3,310 toward the total of $27,085, not including other fees.

The two-tone fabric interior in the Maverick XLT hybrid

The two-tone fabric interior in the Maverick XLT.

Going through Ford Finance with a 5 percent APR and 10 percent down, the monthly would be a painful $461 for 60 months. A 3-year term would be $731. And pushing out to a 6-year term would be $393.

Before putting money down, I’d need to test drive this teacup pickup to be certain this Maverick is the disruptor Ford hopes it is.

Otherwise, I’ll wait a couple of years and buy used. Or whatever compact pickup comes along next.

What are your thoughts about compact pickups?

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Ford Maverick Overview

The compact-class Ford Maverick goes on sale this fall with innovative functionality and reasonable pricing

An exterior view of the Maverick pickup.Maverick’s exterior styling is upright and squared off. (All photos courtesy of Ford)



What this country needs is a tough little pickup truck that doesn’t require 84-month financing. Ford Motor hopes it has prepared such a segment disruptor with its 2022 Ford Maverick. This compact-class pickup was conceived as a doer, not a pretender and it is aimed at “people who never knew they wanted a truck,” Ford says.

Maverick goes on sale this fall as a five-passenger four-door pickup. It will have a choice of two four-cylinder engines — and most notably a gasoline-electric hybrid. Maverick will be sold in three trim levels in front- or all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $21,490 and includes the $1,495 freight charge from the Hermosillo Assembly plant in Sonora, Mexico.

“Maverick challenges the status quo and the stereotypes of what a pickup truck can be,” Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager, said in a statement. “We believe it will be compelling to a lot of people who never before considered a truck.”

Maverick’s starting price makes it $150 less expensive than Ford’s least expensive vehicle, the EcoSport subcompact crossover. And it is $5,420 less than the starting price of the midsize rear-wheel-drive 2021 Ford Ranger SuperCab at $26,910.

The front seats of the Maverick Lariat.The interior design is straightforward and durable.

Maverick Architecture

The Maverick is 11 inches shorter than the midsize Ranger. And is built on the unibody architecture with the Bronco Sport, Escape, and Lincoln Corsair SUVs. About 60 percent of the Maverick’s parts are shared with the Bronco Sport.

As a unibody pickup — not the typical ladder frame of larger pickups — there is no gap between the cab and the bed. Rail-cap protectors run the length of the bed and curve vertically to end at the top of the back window. The design adds dent and ding protection as users load and unload from the side of the bed, Ford says.

Maverick First Edition

Available for the first model year only is the Maverick First Edition, $32,360. It is built off the Lariat trim level. Its special features include graphics on the hood and lower doors, a soft tonneau cover, body-color door handles, and a gloss black roof and side mirrors. The hybrid model is fitted with 18-inch black-machined wheels and nonhybrid models ride on 17-inch aluminum wheels. Available paint colors will be Carbonized Gray, Area 51, or Rapid Red, which is special for the First Edition.

An FX4 off-road package ($800) is available for all-wheel-drive XLT and Lariat models. The package adds all-terrain tires and suspension tuning, additional underbody protection, and drive modes of mud-rut and sand.

Check the build and price website at

Maverick Powertrains

Maverick will have a choice of two powertrains. The standard, front-wheel-drive hybrid model has a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with a continuously variable transmission. It has total system power of 191 horsepower and 155 foot-pounds of torque with the electric motor. The electric traction motor is engineered and manufactured in-house.

The hybrid powertrain has a projected EPA-estimated fuel-economy rating of 40 mpg city, Ford says. And owners can expect 500 miles of range on a tank of 87-octane gasoline.

The optional engine ($1,085) is the 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 277 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The tow rating doubles to 4,000 pounds when optioned with the 4K Tow Package ($745). That rating is enough to pull a 21-foot boat, Ford says.

Driver-Assist Systems

Ford’s Co-Pilot360 technology includes standard pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and automatic high beam headlamps.

Available options include Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert and Lane Centering with Evasive Steering Assist.

Maverick Interior Design

Lead interior designer Daniel George calls Maverick “the ultimate first vehicle for my kids.”

What’s key, he said, was understanding how people actually use the stuff they bring in, rather than just expecting them to find places to stash it.

An example of such functionality is the door panels that have a split design to allow a one-liter water bottle to sit upright rather than rolling around on the seats. The door pockets are huge and have lots of vertical clearance to place a tablet or notebooks, George said in the release. There also is a storage bin under the rear seats that is large enough for such items as a volleyball, laptop bags, rollerblades, or tools.

The cleverly designed door panel in the Maverick pickup

Door panels can hold a one-liter water bottle and a tablet.

Simple But Not Basic Cabin

The Ford Maverick customer wants simple but not basic, said Barb Whalen, who led the team in choosing materials and colors.

The goal was to have an interior that is straightforward and durable with a well-built feel, she said. The interior was designed for function, purpose and ease of cleaning.

The infotainment system in the Maverick Lariat.

Electronic features include a standard 8-inch center touch screen.

Unique textures and materials were used, such as reground carbon fiber for strength and visual interest. The dash panel has a stonelike finish, Whalen said. It is similar in appearance to a super-durable synthetic countertop.

“We strategically placed pops of color for functionality — creating an energetic space you want to be in,” she said.

Electronic features include a standard 8-inch center touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto infotainment. The standard FordPass Connect feature has embedded Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices. FordPass also allows owners to use their smartphone to find the truck, check its fuel level, lock and unlock the doors and start or turn off the engine.

A view of the loaded bed of the 2022 Maverick pickup

The bedsides are low for easy unloading.

Multitasking systems

FITS — Ford Integrated Tether System — is a multitasking solution for passengers in the back seat. A FITS slot at the back of the front console will accommodate a variety of features in the accessory package. It includes cup holders, a trash or storage bin, and a double hook for grocery bags and purses.

There also are under-seat storage dividers. And Ford is working to publish the slot geometry so people can 3D-print their own solutions. Those accessories can be stored in multiple slots under the rear seats.

The unique tailgate of the Maveick can be propped open at 45 degrees.

The tailgate is rated for 500 pounds.

A “Flexbed” Makerspace

“The whole bed is a DIY fan’s paradise,” said Keith Daugherty, an engineering specialist who helped develop Maverick’s bed.

The team’s innovative “Flexbed” system will help ease cargo-packing dilemmas and transform the bed into a complete makerspace.

There is an optional bolt-in cargo-management system, Daugherty said. And owners can bolt steel C-section channels to the bed to create their own setups.

The Maverick pickup has storage under the back seat

Under-seat storage.

Segmented Storage Options

Storage can be segmented with by 2-by-4s or 2-by-6s fitted into slots stamped into the side of the bed. A raised floor can be created for flat transport of full plywood sheets. Special racks can be made for bikes,  kayaks, and other sporting gear. The bed also has two tie-downs, four D-rings, and threaded holes in the bedsides.

“Customers can scan the FLEXBED QR code in the bed for some interesting ideas to get started,” Daugherty said.

Sheets of plywood stacked into the bed of the Maverick.

The payload can accommodate up to 18 sheets of plywood.

Prewired Power

DIY projects, tailgating and camping will get a boost from prewired 12-volt electrical power on either side of the back of the Maverick’s bed.

There also are options for 110-volt, 400-watt outlets. One outlet is in the bed and one is in the cabin, said Gaby Grajales, an electrical engineer on the Ford Maverick team. The 110-volt outlets have enough juice to power phones, laptops or small TVs. The power source can also charge cordless tools or run a small corded tool, such as a jigsaw,

There’s also a storage cubby built into the bed side of the XLT that is large enough to keep a ball hitch or air pump. The Lariat has two cubbies.

A 110-volt household plug in the Maverick's bed.

A 110-volt household plug in the Maverick’s bed.

Ford Maverick By The Numbers

Maverick has a payload of 1,500 pounds and a tow rating of 2,000 pounds. That’s enough to haul a pair of personal watercrafts or a good-sized pop-up camper, Ford said in a release.

All models have four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

A bedside storage box in the Ford Maverick.

A bedside storage cubby.

Tailgate Multifunction

Drop the tailgate to extend the 4.5-foot-long bed to 6 feet. Maverick’s tailgate has a halfway-open position that can be handy to support up to 18 sheets of 4-by-8-foot plywood on the tailgate lip and wheelhouses.

The tailgate can support 500 pounds and has tie-down clamps that double as bottle openers. Almost any size adult can reach over the sides and grab items off the floor, Ford says.

Segmented storage in the Maverick bed.

Segmented storage in the Maverick bed.

Inch Count

The Ford Maverick is 199.7 inches long on a wheelbase of 121.1 inches. It stands 68.7 inches tall and is 83.5 inches wide at the side mirrors. Lift-in height to the bed is 30.1 inches.

The bed is 54.4 inches long and 53.3 inches wide or 42.6 inches wide between the wheelhouses.

The base curb weight for the hybrid model is 3,674 pounds. The EcoBoost model has curb weights of 3,563-3,731 lbs.

Ford Mavericks back seat.

The back seat in the Lariat model.

Maverick Competitors

Several midsize pickups have been redesigned or significantly updated this year. They include the Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier. The Hyundai Santa Cruz is only size-comparable competitor to the Maverick, so far.  It goes on sale this summer.

A rear view of the 2022 Maverick

The 2022 Maverick will go on sale this fall.

Maverick Assets and Issues

Pickup trucks are an American institution. Many pickup-intenders, however, have lost interest because even the midsize models have gotten so large and expensive.

Maverick could be a refreshing choice that supports the lifestyles of mainstream motorists rather than the truck taking over the lifestyle. But there could be diminished appeal with only one cab configuration. An extended-cab model would be desirable for many.

The base $21,490 MSRP is attention-getting, but that is for the entry XL model. Most transaction prices for the XLT and Lariat will be closer to $27,000 or $35,000 with AWD and a few extras.

Maverick has a manageable 40-foot turning circle. Because of that owners won’t have to use their other, smaller car to run errands. And, in turn, the Maverick could become the family’s only “car.”

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The Battery-Electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup

The big reveal of the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning was a massive moment for the automaker, said Ford President Jim Farley.

Ford world headquarters display

The F-150 Lightning is expected to go on sale in spring, 2022. (All photos courtesy of Ford Motor)



An electric pickup is one thing. An electric pickup that is also an emergency power generator for the home adds a whole new level of consumer usability in this complicated era of climate change.

Ford Motor pulled the camouflage from its striking, all-electric F-150 Lightning last night in a big reveal at its world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. It was a massive moment for Ford, said Ford President and CEO Jim Farley.

The F-150 Lightning is expected to go on sale in spring, 2022. It will be sold in four series and two battery options.

The exterior styling looks traditional F-150, but much has been modified under the military-grade aluminum skin. The truck introduces an independent rear suspension, standard four-wheel drive, and dual in-board motors pushing 563 horsepower.

Two levels of lithium-ion battery packs will be offered. Ford has targeted a driving range of 230 miles with the standard-range battery and 300 miles with the extended-range battery.

A payload of 2,000 pounds is expected for base models with a max tow rating of 10,000 pounds. Official specifications will be released closer to the on-sale date.

“It’s quicker than a Raptor, with standard 4×4 and independent rear suspension,” said CEO Farley.

Ford F-150 Lightning pricing

3 F-150 Lightning pickups

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum, Lariat, and XLT. Available spring 2022.

The electric pickup will be sold in four series in crew-cab body styles with a 5.5-foot-long bed. The commercial-grade model starts at $39,974 before any federal or state tax credits. The mid-range XLT model starts at $52,974. Pricing was not announced for the top-line Platinum, but a spokesman said its MSRP could be around $90,000 with the extended range battery.

Pricing does not include the freight charge from the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich.

The 2022 F-150 Lightning can be reserved here with a $100 deposit.


2022 Ford F-150 Lightning schematic

The powertrain layout shows the two in-board motors and lithium-ion battery storage.

The powertrain of the F-150 Lightning targets 563-hp and 775 foot-pounds of near-instantaneous torque. That’s more than any F-150 ever, Ford says. Acceleration to 60 mph is in the mid-4-second range with the extended-range battery.

Power at home

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning powering a home in an emergency

The Intelligent Backup Power system can power a home for three days, Ford says.

The debut of the Ford Intelligent Backup Power turns the truck into a substantial source of power for a home. The system can tap into 9.6 kilowatts of power — 9600 watts. That is enough backup power to maintain household lighting during an outage. It also will be enough to power other utilities, such as home appliances and security systems. (According to online reports, an average-size home in the U.S. uses about 900 kWh per month.)

The backup power system requires the optional 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and home management system (for which Ford can help with installation). In an emergency, the F-150 Lightning will automatically activate to power the house. Once power is restored, the truck automatically reverts to charging its battery.

Based on the average use of 30kWh per day, the entire system with an extended-range battery can provide full home power for up to three days. With careful use, the power can last as long as 10 days, Ford says.

Ford F-150 Lightning optional work surface.

The optional fold-out Interior Work Surface.

For a later introduction, the Ford Intelligent Power system can use the truck to power homes during high-cost, peak-energy hours while taking advantage of low-cost overnight rates to charge the vehicle in time for the morning drive. The owner saves money on electricity while also taking pressure off the grid in peak usage times, Ford says.

Ford partnered with Sunrun, a leading solar company, to facilitate the installation of the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and home integration system. Customers will also have the opportunity to install solar energy on their homes, tapping into clean, affordable energy and be able to charge their F-150 Lightning.

Battery power

Ford F-150 Lightning charge door on front left fender.

The secure charge door.

F-150 Lightning offers two levels of battery power: a standard-range battery targets 230 miles of EPA-estimated range and the extended-range battery targets 300 miles of EPA-estimated range.

Standard with the truck is an 80-amp charge station to maintain an extended-range truck at home. This system has a dual onboard charging system that can add an average range of 30 miles per charging hour. Fully charging an extended-range truck from 15 percent to 100 percent would take about eight hours, Ford says.

On the road, users have access to the ChargePoint public charging network, considered North America’s largest system. Using FordPass, drivers will have access to more than 63,000 charging plugs and growing. On a 150-kW DC fast charger, the extended-range battery is targeted to get up to 54 miles of range in 10 minutes and charge from 15 percent to 80 percent in about 41 minutes, Ford says.

The FordPass Power My Trip function identifies charging routes in advance of an extended drive. The truck’s, Intelligent Range mode calculates range while factoring in weather, traffic, payload, and towing weights, Ford says. Cloud-connected navigation on SYNC 4 also identifies public charging locations.

Truck as generator

Ford F-150 Lighting tailgate work suface.

The optional Tailgate Work Surface.

The enhanced Pro Power Onboard provides built-in electrical outlets to power a variety of tools, electronics, and appliances. Base trims have 2.4 kilowatts of power with the option for more. Lariat and Platinum models have 9.6 kilowatts of power — a combination of up to 2.4 kilowatts available through the frunk and up to 7.2 kilowatts through outlets in the cab and bed.

Customers will receive a FordPass notification if their truck’s battery falls below a third of its total range. And the truck can be programmed to stop using Pro Power Onboard if the battery level approaches the distance to the nearest charging station.

Front trunk

Ford F-150 Lightning frunk.

The front trunk, or frunk, is power opened and closed.

The newfound space under the hood allowed for a  lockable “mega power frunk” that is power opened and closed. The storage capacity has about 14 cubic feet of volume and a 400-pound payload. Ford says that’s enough space for two carry-on travel bags and one checked bag, or two sets of golf clubs.

The water-resistant space has four electrical outlets and two USB chargers. Drain holes in the floor allow the frunk to be used as a cooler. With 2.4 kilowatts of power, there’s enough electrical capacity to plug in power tools, TVs, laptops and speakers, or even a crockpot and other appliances.


A Ford F-150 Lighting in camouflage while testing tow capacity.

Endurance testing included running the truck through Iowa Hill, Calif.

The F-150 Lightning was put through the same endurance testing as all F-Series trucks. The military-grade aluminum-alloy body and upgraded frame were engineered to support the advanced battery. The first F-Series independent rear suspension and low center of gravity help improve noise isolation from the road and provide a more stable ride.

No compromises on space or utility were made, Ford says. The cab and bed have the same dimensions as the gas models.

The truck’s four-wheel-drive system features four selectable drive modes: Normal, Sport, Off-Road, and Tow-Haul. Metal underbody skid plates protect the battery and inboard motors. The battery itself is secured inside a waterproof casing that is surrounded by crash-absorption protection. It has been tested at temperatures as extreme as minus-40 degrees.

To maintain steady thermal conditions, the F-150 Lightning was engineered with an advanced liquid cooling system and powertrain layout to manage heat distribution.

Endurance testing included running the truck through Iowa Hill, Calif. In the testing, loaded trailers were towed for long durations up and down the steep Iowa Hill Road, where there are no safety guardrails, according to Wikipedia

Ford F-150 Lightning aerodynamics

Ford F-150 Lightning payload capacity and tow ratings.

Base models are expected to have a max tow rating of 10,000 pounds.

F-150 Lightning is the most aerodynamic F-150 ever, Ford says. Styling enhancements include newly shaped running boards, a sculpted hood to reduce drag, and grilles with a smoother, textured surface.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning specifications

Body style: full-size, 5-seat crew-cab pickup with a 5.5-foot-long bed

Electric motors: Two inboard three-phase fixed magnet AC

Battery type: Liquid-cooled lithium-ion pouch with battery management

Targeted horsepower: 426 hp standard range; 563-hp extended range

Targeted peak torque: 775 foot-pounds for both battery packs

Onboard charger power, (input/output): 11.3 kW/10.5 kW standard range; 19.2 kW/17.6 kW extended range

Targeted EPA driving range: 230 miles standard battery; 300 miles extended range battery

Level 3 fast charge: 15%-80% in 44 minutes standard range; 41 minutes extended range

Level 2 home charging: NA

80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro: 15%-100% in 10 hours standard range; 8 hours extended range

32-amp/240-watt onboard charger: 15%-100% in 14 hours standard range; 19 hours extended range


Targeted maximum payload: 2,000 lbs. standard battery; 1,800 lbs. extended-range battery

Targeted maximum towing: 7,700 lbs. with the standard battery; 10,000 lbs. with the extended-range battery

Length/wheelbase: 232.7/145.5 inches

Cab height/width: 78.9/*96 inches. *w/mirrors folded 83.6 in.

Ground clearance: 8.9 inches

Open tailgate to the ground: 37.2 inches

Front trunk liftover height: 35 inches

Curb weight: NA

Turning circle: NA


Bumper to bumper: 3-years/36,000-miles

Roadside assistance: 5-years/60,000-miles;

Electric vehicle components: 8-years or 100,000-miles, including the battery that is expected to retain a minimum of 70% of its original capacity over that period

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Ford’s first Black designer helped pen the original Bronco

Young Ford Bronco designer also contributed to concepts for a cab-forward truck, the Mustang and the legendary GT40

McKinley Thompson Jr. was the first African American designer hired at Ford Motor Co.

McKinley Thompson Jr., a Ford designer who helped pen the first-generation Bronco, was the first African American designer hired at Ford Motor Company (Photos courtesy of Ford Motor)


The endearing and enduring success of the Ford Bronco has roots in its earliest design by the first African American designer hired at Ford Motor Co. In 1956, McKinley Thompson Jr. had just graduated from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., with a degree in transportation design.

Among Thompson’s more noteworthy projects was the Ford Bronco SUV, an open-air 4×4 concept featuring a square, short body and high ground clearance with minimal front and rear overhangs for optimum off-road capability. One of his designs, titled “Package Proposal #5 for Bronco,” rendered July 24, 1963, influenced the design language that would become iconic attributes of the first-generation Bronco.

Early Bronco sketches by Thompson Jr.

Early Bronco sketches by Thompson Jr.

The First Generation

The original nameplate ran from 1965 to 1996, when the short-wheelbase off-roader was replaced by the much larger Expedition SUV. Now, 24 years later Ford has just unveiled its successor.

The 2021 Ford Bronco 4X4 will be available next spring in two-door and four-door body styles, laying the foundation for a family of off-road vehicles, Ford calls “Built Wild.” Like the original, the sixth-generation Bronco, based on the Ranger pickup, will have removable doors and roof for an open-air experience. A less intense and more affordable model, the Bronco Sport, will be based on the Escape SUV architecture.

A photo showing the new Ford Bronco and the original model

A pre-production 2021 Ford Bronco two-door SUV takes its off-road design cues from the first-generation Bronco.

“We created the Bronco family to elevate every aspect of off-road adventure and equipped them with class-leading chassis hardware and exclusive technologies to raise the bar in the rugged 4×4 segment and take people further into the wild,” Jim Farley, Ford chief operating officer, said in a media statement. And at launch, there will be a range of option packages, including the Sasquatch with 35-inch tires, and more than 200 factory-backed accessories.

An early Bronco clay prototype.

An early Ford Bronco clay prototype.

Ranger Pickup Roots

Based on the architecture of the midsize Ranger pickup, the Bronco will have a boxed, high-strength steel chassis that will be capable best-in-class suspension travel, Ford says, or 17 percent more front and rear over the closest competitor (the Jeep Wrangler).

There will be two engines, the standard powertrain will be a 270-horsepower, 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with an expected 310 foot-pounds of torque. It will have a standard seven-speed manual transmission (including a crawler gear) or optional 10-speed automatic. A 325-hp, 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 will be optional, with 400 foot-pounds of torque, paired with the automatic transmission.

Pricing will start at about $30,000 and both body styles can be reserved now at for $100.

Reservations for the Ford Bronco First Edition — limited to 3,500 copies — filled up in less than a day, for the price of $60,800, including shipping.

The original Bronco brochure of accessoriesh a range of accessories.

The original Bronco debuted with a range of accessories.

An Unsung Legend

Thompson Jr. is somewhat of an unsung legend, according to a media release from Ford.

His first assignment was at the company’s advanced design studio in Dearborn, working under George Walker, vice president of Ford design. Among his projects was a light-duty cab-forward truck, several concept sketches for the soon-to-be Ford Mustang and the legendary Ford GT40. Thompson also worked on the futuristic space-age Ford Gyron, a two-wheeled concept car that was on display at the Century of Progress exhibit at the Ford Rotunda in 1961.

The 1966 Ford Bronco prototype.

The 1966 Ford Bronco prototype.

McKinley followed his dreams and wound up making history, said the current Ford Bronco interior designer Christopher Young, who also is Black.

“[McKinley] not only broke through the color barrier in the world of automotive design,” said Young, “he helped create some of the most iconic consumer products ever — from the Ford Mustang, Thunderbird and Bronco — designs that are not only timeless but have been studied by generations of designers.”

The first Bronco pickup

1966 Ford Bronco pickup.

Bronco Proposal #5 

In Thompson’s proposed Ford Bronco design, the wheels were positioned at the far corners of the body for a confident and aggressive go-anywhere stance. And the curve of the smoothed out wheel arches conveyed speed.

The simple round speedometer

Simple but durable features.

“I believe the hardest thing for a person like McKinley to do was working within the constraints given him to make a beautiful product,” said Young, 48. “Engineering dictates size and functionality, then manufacturing limits how it can be stamped and assembled, and finance says you have to build it for a low price.”

1966 Bronco interior with bench seat

1966 Bronco interior with bench seat.

Bucket seats in the original Bronco

And with the bucket-seat option.

Thompson’s concept for an all-purpose compact two-door SUV is a theme he would return to later in life. After retiring from Ford, he worked to design and build a concept he envisioned as an affordable all-purpose vehicle named the Warrior. The small utility vehicle was based on a one-piece fiberglass body, a process Thompson dreamed of decades earlier.

The six-cylinder engine

The standard 150-hp. 170-cubic-inch inline-six was derived from the Ford Falcon.

The Warrior and the Dreamer

Thompson was born in 1922 and grew up in Queens, N.Y. He had a keen interest in cars from the time he was young, and later recalled seeing a silver-gray DeSoto Airflow when he was around 12.

“It just so happened that the clouds opened up for the sunshine to come through,” he said in an interview documented by The Henry Ford. “It lit that car up like a searchlight.”

Thompson recalled running toward it, but the light turned green. “I was never so impressed with anything in all my life,” he said. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do — I wanted to be an automobile designer.”

Protected spare tire storage. (Ford)

Protected spare tire storage.

Thompson served in the Army Signal Corps in World War II where he learned drafting and worked as an engineering layout coordinator.

Bronco wheel covers

Optional wheel covers.

After the war, that work provided for him and his growing family, but Thompson’s love of cars and his dream of being a designer persisted.

In the early 1950s, he entered a design contest in Motor Trend magazine. His submission was a turbine car with a reinforced plastic body, both concepts that were trending in the postwar era.

He won the contest, then went on to enroll in the transportation design department at ArtCenter College of Design.

A love of cars

Later in his Ford career, Thompson worked on the side to create his dream car in a rented garage in Detroit from 1969 to 1979. He enlisted the help of Wallace Triplett, who had also broken the color barrier as the first African American draftee to play for the Detroit Lions in 1949.

Together, they built a prototype and pitched the plans to burgeoning automakers in developing nations. Thompson hoped to change these countries for the better, much the same way Henry Ford envisioned with the Model T.

Eventually, Thompson pulled the plug on the project — but not on his dreams. He retired from Ford in 1984 and moved to Arizona with his wife. He passed away on March 5, 2006.

“McKinley’s influence, beyond his work on the original Bronco, helped pave the way for others like him who might not have had an opportunity to express their creative talents and live their dreams to be a part of one of America’s greatest companies,” said Young.

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