One Editor's Experience With Maserati's Levante
We know by now that the makers of the world’s supercars, led by Porsche, have turned their design and engineering skills to the SUV. This is not a new trend, and while it initially horrified purists, most car lovers would say it’s a positive thing.
Still, it was a bit bracing a few years back to see Maserati introduce its SUV, the Levante—maybe it’s just easier to imagine the Germans as makers of a practical car than the Italians. Perhaps more surprising still was to see how elegantly Maserati has handled the translation of its design aesthetic into the SUV format, where so many cars simply feel like variations on a predictable theme. This is a process that does not always go well; the Bentley Bentayga, for example, strikes me as the Pontiac Aztek of luxury SUVs.
But with its iconic front grille, side air vents and graceful curves, the Levante smoothly incorporates design elements that identify it as a Maserati and separate the car from some of its less interesting competitors. It’s self-confident, but not flashy. Nor is it precious. When I stepped into the Levante for a recent test drive, I was startled to see how clean and simple the interior was; if you’ve driven just about any SUV, you can zip off in the Levante with no hesitation. There’s an 8.4” touchscreen embedded neatly in the center dash, which of course features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you won’t need to read the owner’s manual to figure out how to use it. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles here, just comfortable and supportive seats, abundant, well-designed space and a sense of safety and serenity inside the car. I’ve seen other reviewers characterize the Levante’s interior as “less luxurious” than some high-end SUVs such as the Porsche Cayenne, but to me it came across as confident understatement—not necessarily a trait for which Italian luxury cars are known, but one which worked nicely for me.
Where you’ll really notice that this car is a Maserati is the driving experience. The top-of-the-line Trofeo model that I drove features a 590-horsepower V8, which powers the car with authority whether driving on twisty, hilly suburban roads or rolling upstate New York highways. The Trofeo roars from 0 to 60 in an astonishing (for a car of its size) 3.7 seconds.
It’s strange to say about an SUV, but words like “nimble” and “agile” come to mind with the Levante; you just don’t feel its 4,784 pounds. Alas, the mileage is depressingly low; I saw about 15 miles a gallon for mostly highway driving.
If you’re thinking about buying a Maserati, price may not be an issue for you, and frankly, that’s probably the necessary attitude here. The least expensive Levante is about $73,000, but the one I drove—which, in my opinion, is the one you really want—weighs in at about $175,000. Even for a high-performance luxury SUV, that’s a lot of lire. Try to think of it as buying an Italian supercar…that just happens to be an SUV.
For more information, visit maseratiusa.com