2024 Can-Am Maverick R First Drive Review: A side-by-side thrill ride

2024 Can-Am Maverick R First Drive Review: A side-by-side thrill ride

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HAWTHORNE, Nev. — It’s a beautiful desert day in northern Nevada, and I’m hauling serious butt in the 2024 Can-Am Maverick R. With a tiny 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged engine squeaking out a whopping 240 horsepower, this new side-by-side is a force to be reckoned with. I’m in Sport+ mode, the paddle shifters controlling the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission are clicking off the shifts, and I’ve got a huge grin on my face.

However, as I’m climbing a steep hill, I feel the worst thing possible: cocky. I’ve spent a day and a half sliding this thing through turns, barreling over rocks and catching air at every opportunity. What are the chances this ascent will go wrong for me?


Bad idea, Hall. Bad, bad idea. As I crest the hill, I realize too late the road turns to the right. Unfortunately, I do not do the same. I’m now to the left of my intended path, headed straight for a pair of humongous boulders spaced slightly narrower than the Maverick’s 77-inch width. “This,” I have time to think, “is going to be bad.”

I decide to hit the rock on the right, knowing full well that I risk breaking the Maverick’s new and very non-traditional long front spindle. Can-Am has moved the ball joint above the tire in this re-imagined Maverick, all in the name of reducing scrub radius and load on the tire. It looks a little crazy and was greeted with plenty of disdain on the internet when the first photos came out. Well, Can-Am, we’re about to see just how good your design really is.

The passenger tire hits the rock and I’m catapulted back towards the trail. I have a brief, heartstopping moment where I think I’m going to roll, but a quick flick of the steering wheel to the left – towards the dirt that seems perilously close to my face – saves it. I come to rest on the right side of the road, shiny side up and thanking the universe for my good fortune.

The wheel is shattered but the spindle is fine. There are some marks on it where the flat tire rubbed, but that’s about it. The lower arm, designed with a breakaway point so that in case of failure it breaks in a relatively safe place and doesn’t rip out of the hub, is bent a tiny bit. However, it is still safe for me to continue driving. We swap the flat out and the Maverick is back in business – and I am more than a bit humbled.

I started my drive the day before in the Can-Am a bit apprehensive. This two-seat, go-fast golf cart is like nothing I’ve ever driven before. With a top speed of nearly 100 mph, up to 26 inches of wheel travel, 17 inches of ground clearance and myriad suspension, engine and steering modes, the Maverick R is not for the faint of heart.

Within the first minute of my drive, I’ve got the Maverick up to 88 mph on a gravel road. It feels a little light, and that’s as far as I feel like pushing it. My GPS isn’t working – more on that later – and I miss my turn, ending up on what might have been a trail at one point, but recent rains have done some damage.