Early Japanese 4x4s were truck-based and clunky, which made for great off-road handling but left them seriously wanting back on the bitumen, especially since they were typically far underpowered. This all changed in the 1980s, when Nissan changed over to coil-sprung suspension and added some more power under the bonnet. The new Nissan Patrol was introduced at a time when the only true off-road vehicle available here was the Range Rover. The Ford Maverick is a rebadged Nissan Patrol GQ sold under the Ford name, but it never really took off in sales.
Still, the Ford Maverick is a classic 4x4 that, even though it was only available from 1988 through 1994, is still going strong today. The Maverick was available in short- and long-wheelbase models, with two or four doors, and basic wagons with petrol or diesel 4.2L engines. Available in both manual or automatic transmissions, and rear- or four-wheel drive configurations, there is really a Maverick for every need. The petrol engine is more powerful and delivers more torque than the diesel version, which, oddly enough, wasn't available as a turbodiesel. Another oddity is that while the 5-speed manual transmission was easy to handle, it really didn't reduce fuel consumption over the 4-speed automatic.
These vehicles weren't very complicated, but they were never meant to be, focusing instead on utility off road and handling better on road than most other 4x4s of the time. Another thing that sets the Maverick apart from other 4x4s is its simple styling, which, while aged, hasn't lost its appeal. Well-maintained Mavericks command looks and comments that other vehicles even today just don't deserve.
The Maverick came with a choice two engines, two transmissions, and rear- or four-wheel drivetrains. The 4.2L petrol i6 engine put out 125kW and an astounding 325Nm torque at 2800 rpm, which, when mated to the four-wheel drive system, makes a very capable off-roading 4x4. The 5-speed manual transmission doesn't save a whole lot in fuel consumption compared to the optional 4-speed automatic.
The naturally aspirated 4.2L diesel i6 engine, on the other hand, was only rated at 85kW and 264Nm of torque. Mated to the 5-speed manual transmission, it is extremely thirsty at around 20L/100km, which is very difficult to justify in today's market.
Probably the best combination that can be found is the 4.2L petrol i6 engine mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission and the four-wheel drivetrain. This combination makes for good fuel consumption on the bitumen, easy off-road handling, and even occasional rock crawling with the transfer case's super low gear ratios.
All variants of the Maverick were equipped with coil-sprung front and rear suspension and limited-slip differentials, power brakes and steering, and a rear-mounted anti-sway bar. Standard equipment included cloth seats, vinyl trim, and floor coverings.
Step up to the XL and get better instrumentation, including tachometer, oil pressure, water temperature, and voltage gauges. The audio system added a cassette player to the 2-speaker system, and the new bucket seats were cloth covered and trimmed. Carpet replaced the base model's vinyl floor covering.
The highest trim, the XLT, gained bigger wheels and tyres under larger fender flares and powered by a new vacuum-operated rear locking differential. Alloy rub rails were added, as well as power windows and locks, tilt sunroof, and a 4-speaker audio system with power aerial.
Probably the most direct competition to the Ford Maverick was its sister Nissan Patrol GQ, which was already on the road for eight years previous, before Ford started rebadging them. The Patrol and Maverick are pretty much identical � not counting any cosmetic changes � but perform equally. Sales of the Maverick never really took off, selling just about 16,000 in the six years that the Patrol sold over 30,000. Still, the Ford Maverick is a one-of-a-kind Ford, the likes of which haven't been seen since.
The Toyota Land Cruiser, another full-size 4x4, is probably just as capable off road as the Maverick, but it is equipped with more of the niceties that make even around-town driving comfortable. The Land Cruiser is also just as well known for its longevity. To get all this, though, you'll pay a premium for the privilege. The Land Cruiser may be more refined, but it doesn't compare to the enduring style and attitude of the Maverick.