Anytime a classic small pickup truck appears in Hemmings or some other automotive website as a Remember When? model, the comments invariably bemoan that no US manufacturer makes such a small truck today otherwise, they couldn’t crank them out fast enough.

Recognizing a “white space” in the market, especially in the wake of deleting all of its sedans and coupes, save for the Mustang, Ford is rushing to fill that gap with its Maverick small pickup, a step below the Ranger compact that debuted last year. Ford hasn’t used its Maverick moniker since 1977, when it was affixed to one of its compacts.

“We’re expecting it to be priced below the Ranger, it (having) smaller engines and (being) lighter duty,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions. “It’s more of a lifestyle vehicle. We’re not expecting it to show up on construction sites.”

General speculation is that the Maverick will ride on the same platform as the recently launched Bronco Sport, which would use a 1.5-liter turbocharged, inline three-cylinder motor or a 2-liter blown four-cylinder engine. The 1.5 should generate 181 horsepower, while the 2-liter could put out 250-280 hp. These are to be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission (a rumored six-speed manual?) and come with an optional twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system from the Bronco but unlike the Ranger and Ford’s full-size trucks, the Maverick will be a maverick in that it will be front-drive. The Maverick will also deviate from typical pickup construction in that it’ll be unibody, not body-on-frame (BOF).

However, Ford could decide to underpin the Maverick with a previous-generation front-drive platform from its Transit Connect. In that case, a naturally aspirated 2L four-cylinder would put out just 162 hp with the same three-cylinder mentioned above as the uplevel motor.

There hasn’t been a front-drive pickup truck on the market in North America since the early 1980s, when VW’s Rabbit pickup hopped around along with Chrysler’s Rampage/Scamp twins based on the Dodge 024 and Plymouth TC3 two-door coupes.

The Maverick’s wheelbase is estimated to be around 127 inches with a 200-inch length. The Maverick should also only come in crew cab form, not a Super Cab model and the bed length is estimated around 54 inches. The Maverick’s payload and towing figures should be in the 1,500 and 2,000 ballparks, respectively.

The Maverick will be built in Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico factory, in part to avoid the United States’ “chicken tax” on pickup trucks and sell them in the US sans penalties. Prices for a base (Pony?) model are rumored to be around $20,000, with higher trims starting at $25,000, nicely equipped, including a possible hybrid.

The Maverick should go on sale in late 2021 or in early 2022.