FORD MAVERICK (1993-1997)

December 3, 2007

The Maverick was one Ford that British buyers never really took to their hearts. It was certainly late to the 4×4 party which started in the early Nineties. Perhaps they never forgave it for that. More likely, however, a lack of image was to blame. Not even the most optimistic of Ford dealers could pretend that this was any kind of Range Rover. The sensible ones concentrated on its more hidden virtues; a rugged build, surprisingly good off road ability and a proven reliability record. These attributes make it a good prospect as a secondhand buy. And despite the fact that relatively few were sold, prices are attractive on the used market.

The Maverick was introduced in June 1993 as a joint venture with Nissan. In fact, to be more accurate, Nissan did all the work and Ford put up the cash. The feel of the car was therefore, not surprisingly, very Japanese, it didn’t help in this respect that most of the interior fittings came straight from a Nissan Primera. Right from the beginning, its identical twin, Nissan’s Terrano II, outsold the Ford handsomely due to sharper pricing and a superior warranty. Both cars shared the same engines – either a 122bhp 2.4-litre petrol unit or a noisy and sluggish 100bhp 2.7-litre turbo diesel. There was the option of either three or five-door bodystyles and you could have either of two trim levels – base and GLX. Two years later, in May 1995, the car came in for its first round of cosmetic prettying (a chrome bar was added to the front grille). The base model was re-named the Aspen and received a canvas spare wheel cover, electric windows and powered/heated door mirrors. The GLX had new seat material, an engine immobiliser and a leather-covered steering wheel. A driver’s airbag was added to both in October 1995. More significant improvements followed in June 1996 when the car was given a heavily chromed front end (supposed to engender ‘an American look’). The 2.4-litre petrol engine was ecologically tweaked, while the 2.7TD got a welcome 25bhp power hike. The Maverick was gradually phased out of production during the first half of 1998 but there were a lot of cars in stock and you’ll find a few on 99S plates. A decent family workhorse. The interior is just like that of any family hatchback. The trim quality is well up to standard and everything falls to hand easily. All the major bits and pieces of equipment are in evidence. On a GLS for example, you’ll find alloy wheels, central locking, a powered sunroof, fog lamps, headlamp washers, electric front windows and heated mirrors. Having said all that, there’s little of the class you’d expect in an up-market family saloon. Hard plastic is everywhere. Still, it’s practical. So is the reliability; Mavericks have a reputation for failing to break down – something many Vauxhall Frontera owners would kill for.

Broadly, the turbo diesel models are worth about £500 more than their petrol counterparts. The earliest 1993 L-reg base 3-door models start at around £2,800 (or £3,200 for the GLX). Add a premium of around £400 if you want a five rather than a three-door. For one of the 1995 first facelift cars (recognisable by the single chrome strip across the front grille), you’ll pay from around £4,100. Second facelift cars (with the fully chromed grille) from June 1996 onwards start from about £5,700. As with any used 4×4, check for signs of heavy off-road use. Few Mavericks will have done any more than mount a grass verge but you can never be too careful. Oil leaks and worn rear shock absorbers have been known. Apparently, some TDs suffered from a vibration in the gearbox area which required a special clutch assembly. If you sense this to be a problem on the test drive, find out if it has been done. And on the subject of turbo diesels, try and stretch to the post-1996 car if you can. Otherwise, resign yourself to the slow lane. The Maverick makes far more sense secondhand than it ever did new. A reasonably priced one is well worth having.

(approx based on 1995 2.4) As you might expect from a Ford, parts are plentiful – but in the case of this model, they’re not particularly cheap. A clutch assembly is around £215. Front brake pads are around £55, a rear exhaust about £55, a catalyst about £760 and an alternator around £230. A headlamp is about £80.

It doesn’t sway about like most 4x4s and holds the road better. What’s more, you can drive it like a car, even when towing a two-tonne trailer. The Maverick is a quieter and much more refined used car than most of its contemporaries. As already mentioned, the original 2.7TD engine is rather slow but that apart, the Maverick is reasonably driver-friendly. Though the car is obviously not designed as an out-and-out mud-plugger, it’s quite competent enough off road to stay with its illustrious rivals over any ploughed field or icy slope. Beyond that, you’d have to concede best to the more accomplished (and expensive) off roaders in the class. Having said that, what’s the point in paying for all that extra mud-plugging ability if you’re not going to use it? What would be useful is the option to use 4WD over reasonably fast road use for peace of mind in slippery conditions. Still, there is a limited slip differential to keep the wheels from spinning too much. Once you’re on the dirt, you can reach for the second gearshift lever to bring full-time 4WD into play. At that point, you must choose between high and low ratios depending on the conditions and suddenly, particularly in turbo diesel form, the impressive low down pulling power of the engine comes into its own.

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FORD MAVERICK (2001-2003)

December 2, 2007

The Maverick was one Ford that British buyers never really took to their hearts. It was certainly late to the 4×4 party. Perhaps they never forgave it for that. More likely, however, a lack of image was to blame. Not even the most optimistic of Ford dealers could pretend that this was any kind of Range Rover. The sensible ones concentrated on its more hidden virtues; a rugged build, surprisingly good off road ability and a proven reliability record. These attributes make it a good prospect as a secondhand buy. And despite the fact that relatively few were sold, prices are attractive on the used market. These words were in fact the introduction to a model guide on the previous generation Maverick introduced in 1993. Eight years down the line they apply equally to the Series II model. British buyers, it seemed, could countenance a Ford supermini or family hatch but anything that resembled a 4×4 was consistently shunned. This represents a pity, as owners discovered the Maverick to be a machine with more than a few redeeming features.

Whereas the first generation Maverick was introduced as a joint venture with Nissan, the Series II version was developed with Mazda, another Japanese company but in this instance one that Ford had developed a controlling interest in. The Mazda Tribute and the Ford Maverick were offered side by side in many countries, but here in the UK Ford pulled rank and had a clear four months run at the market before the Tribute appeared in August 2001. The job was complicated by the fact that between the inception of the Series 2 Maverick project and it arriving on sale, Ford had founded the Premier Auto Group, a key component of which is Land Rover. The Maverick had suddenly become a car that was utterly redundant. What was the point in spending money promoting a car that was competing against – and if Ford were honest with themselves – didn’t stand a chance of muscling out the market leader, the Land Rover Freelander? And so it proved. Promotion for the Maverick was very low key and customer take-up was similarly underwhelming. No diesel version was ever offered and more modern rivals soon extinguished what little spark of interest surrounded the Maverick, leaving it to wither on the vine. The Maverick quietly disappeared from the pricelists towards the end of 2003. Despite its platform being shred by Mazda, the target market for the Maverick soon becomes apparent when you climb inside. The plastic slab of dashboard betrays the Ford’s US-bias more than anything else, the column-mounted automatic gearbox on the 3.0-litre car being probably the least happy aspect of the vehicle, hunting between gears and with detents on the shift that make it difficult to just drop straight into Drive. It’s also something of a shame that it’s only possible to lock the Maverick into first, second and top (fourth) gear, as third would be the ideal gear to take advantage of the Maverick’s surprisingly agility. As we’ve alluded to, the interior, though well equipped, probably won’t impress those with an eye for aesthetics. Everything works, seems well placed and well thought through, and yet feels drab, cheap and uninspiring. Interior space and luggage space is well up to the mark, the Maverick is longer than many rivals, evidence of which is instantly apparent the moment you throw the tailgate open. The rear seat is something of a shapeless bench, but the space available is excellent. Both models get ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution which works staggeringly well, plus air conditioning and an electric sunroof. The V6 also features cruise control, leather seats and an astonishingly ugly six-disc in dash CD player. It’s also the only vehicle in its class to feature side airbags and second-generation dual front air bags as standard. The exterior styling works well in a modest way. Ford were trying for a tough functional appearance and they’ve hit the spot whilst taking a big dip into the bin of generic 4×4 styling cues. The upshot of this is that unless you know what you’re looking for, the Ford Maverick won’t catch your eye, looking as it does like a morphed together rendering of a Freelander and a Honda CR-V. Nevertheless, in offending nobody and excelling in a number of areas, the Maverick, badged the Escape across the pond, notched up 75,000 orders in its first three months on sale. Few of these new owners will be disappointed with their purchase. Whilst the Maverick isn’t perfect, it’s the sheer honesty of the thing that generates a feeling of partiality towards it. How many times have we heard manufacturers of 4x4s claim that their offering drives like a car, only to find that the car they were using as a reference point would probably have failed an MoT on collapsed shocks? The Maverick is a refreshing exception to this rule, and the V6 in particular gives the Ford a level of on-road utility that few rivals could ever dream of.

Prices start at around £12,600 for a 2001 Y plated 2.0-litre XLT model with a 3.0-litre version of the same vintage retailing at just under £13,800. Insurance is decidedly reasonable; the 2.0-litre car rated at Group 9 and the torquey 3.0-litre version at Group 12. The Maverick is a rugged beast; certainly a good deal more so than many of its compact 4×4 rivals. No mechanical gremlins have been reported, as both the engines are well-respected units. Inspect the underside of the used car for off-roading damage to the exhaust, driveshaft and wheelarches if you suspect that the previous owner was one of the 7% who Ford claimed would take their cars off the blacktop and engage all-wheel drive. Although its still a little early to start banging the drum for the Series II Maverick as a genuine used bargain, the steady residuals show that owners rate them highly. It may not be the most chic of 4x4s in this fashion conscious corner of the market, but a used Maverick makes a versatile workhorse.

(approx based on 2001 2.0) In common with most Fords you’ll find parts plentiful, but in this instance they’re not particularly cheap. A clutch assembly is around £195. Front brake pads are around £55, a rear exhaust about £75, and an alternator around £200. A headlamp is about £115. Don’t visit a Mazda dealer for cheap parts as you’ll find they’re a bit pricier.

Due to its one-piece body construction and independent suspension, mention of which would have off-road purists shuddering, the Ford Maverick is the best of the current generation of compact 4x4s when it comes to blacktop behaviour. The Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV and Land Rover Freelander never get close to the taut, lively feel of the Maverick. It’s a testament to how far Ford have progressed in terms of ride and handling in recent years that perhaps the biggest compliment you could level at the Maverick is that it feels like a typical Ford to drive. This means a body that’s resistant to roll, deft yet safe handling all backed up by sharp and lively steering. The 194bhp 3.0-litre engine feels throaty and powerful, certainly a good deal quicker than its 10-second sprint to 60mph would suggest. In normal conditions, 100% of the drive is directed to the front wheels, resulting in an average fuel consumption figure of 22mpg. The 118 bhp four cylinder 2.0 litre unit shared with the Mondeo is better if fuel economy is a concern, averaging around 32mpg in give and take conditions. If any slip from the front wheels is detected, the Control Trac II system comes into play, a rotary blade coupling governs the proportion of drive sent to the rear wheels. If things get really slippery, a button on the dash locks the coupling, directing an even 50:50 proportion of drive to the front and rear wheels. If things get slipperier still, it’s probably time to start looking for a nearly new Discovery.
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