Maserati has a storied history that dates back to 1914, and while it has produced some amazing cars in the past, 2017 brought its first SUV. Introducing the 2017 Maserati Levante, a stunning, yet very capable entry into the luxury SUV segment.
The exterior of this SUV grabs everybody’s attention. From the bold front grille with Maserati’s signature trident emblem to the three portholes on the front fenders, to the rear spoiler, the Levante is distinctive and sets itself apart from its competition. 21” alloy wheels and the optional yellow brake calipers complete an exterior look that is sure to attract a crowd at every stop.
The Levante comes standard with a Ferrari-built 345-horse 3-liter V6 twin turbo engine, but my review vehicle is the S model that bumps the horsepower up to 424-horses and 428 pound-feet of torque that will take you to 60-miles per hour in 5 seconds flat. Top speed is limited to 164 miles per hour.
All Levantes come with the Maserati Q4 all-wheel drive system and an outstanding 8-speed ZF transmission that you can shift from very large paddles on the steering wheel, or from the stick shifter in the console. I love that the paddles are not attached to the steering wheel, making it much easier to shift in a tight turn. This transmission shifts hard and fast under heavy acceleration.
Maserati has always been known for fantastic interiors, and from the moment you open the driver’s door, you know you are entering a very special vehicle. The leather seats look soft and comfortable, and you are welcomed by the Maserati logo on the front and rear headrests.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the steering wheel. It is carbon fiber and leather and is not only the best looking steering wheel I’ve ever seen, it also feels great, just the right size.
From the moment you open the driver’s door, you know you are entering a very special vehicle.
As you look through that steering wheel, you see a 190-mile per hour speedometer on the left, and a tachometer on the right, both surrounded by cylinders to provide shade from the sun. In the center is a very colorful driver info center that is controlled on the steering wheel. You can scroll from the main menu where the digital speedometer is, to vehicle info, drive mode, driver assist options, fuel economy, trip data, start/stop options, audio info, stored messages, and vehicle settings. To the left of the power tilt wheel is the start button.
Between the seats is a carbon fiber center console where the shifter is, the knob to control the infotainment system, and buttons along the left side to change the drive modes. There is also a switch to adjust the Levante to 5 different ride heights.
There is a covered compartment ahead of the shifter and behind it is your armrest that doubles as a storage area. By the way, the center storage area and the glove box are both air-conditioned and both work extremely well.
Above the console in the center stack is the 8.4” very vivid display that operates everything in the SUV. It’s funny, but I immediately recognized it as very similar to the Chrysler uConnect system, which I often say is the best system in the industry. In case you didn’t know, Fiat Chrysler owns Maserati and Ferrari, but I digress.
The screen can be used by touch, or unlike the Chrysler system, you can use a knob in the center console. You can control the radio, media, seat controls, climate, navigation system, and sync your phone. In the middle of the row of symbols, touch the Maserati trident and it takes you to the apps section.
Rich stitching and carbon fiber are everywhere, I found nothing plastic anywhere.
Among other things, there are apps for the heated and air-conditioned seats, travel link with real-time traffic, weather, fuel prices, movie listings, and sports scores. You can also change the settings on the rearview camera, which is one of the best I’ve ever seen. All in all, you can learn the Maserati Touch system in a matter of minutes. By the way, the system is compatible with both Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
Wrapping up my impressions on the inside, rich stitching and carbon fiber are everywhere, I found nothing plastic anywhere. I love the sport pedals and the illuminated door sills. Back seat and headroom were surprisingly ample, and there is 19.4 cubic-feet of cargo area with the second-row seat up.
As you would expect in a luxury SUV, it comes completely loaded with standard equipment, like a panoramic sunroof, remote start, power hands-free lift gate, parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, Bi-Xenon headlights, and LED daytime running lights. One smart thing Maserati did is put the button to close the tailgate down low. Most SUVs position the button to where you must reach all the way up to the edge of the open hatch.
The Levante is a true joy to drive.
My tester came with a little over $21,000 in options. It has the $3000 Driver Assistance package that gets you adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and the surround-view camera.
$2080 gets you the Sport Package and includes the 21” alloy wheels, 12-way power sport seats, the rear spoiler, and the aluminum sport pedals.
Some of the other options include the incredible $5200 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system with 1250 watts of sound. The carbon fiber trim runs $2850, the steering wheel sets you back a grand, yellow calipers are $300, air conditioned seats are $900, and power rear door glass screens cost $450.
The Levante is a true joy to drive and you can completely change the way the SUV rides and handles with the 4 different drive modes. The M button is manual sport mode, which requires you use the paddle shifters. The I.C.E. button stands for increased control and efficiency, similar to eco in other vehicles for better fuel economy.
Then my favorite is Sport. This unleashes an amazing exhaust sound that is like no other I’ve ever heard. Hit the Sport button twice and everything changes to turn up the power, handling, and performance. It is an amazing difference.
Last is the Off-road button, which raises the vehicle automatically and allows the driver to concentrate on driving, whether going uphill or downhill in rough terrain.
The Levante in Sport mode is a true sports car dressed up like an SUV.
The Levante in Sport mode is a true sports car dressed up like an SUV. Its perfect 50/50 weight distribution makes handling amazing. This SUV has incredible acceleration and a balanced ride. Or, leave Sport mode off and enjoy a true luxury ride.
This SUV is incredibly quiet inside and the performance and interior are nothing short of amazing. Not that anybody cares, but it is rated at 14 city and 19 highway, with a combined rating of 16 miles per gallon.
Of course, all this wonderfulness comes at a price. Total MSRP on this luxury SUV is $106,200, which is in line with its competitors the Range Rover Sport, BMW X5, and Porsche Cayenne when comparably equipped.
If you are going to spend six-figure money on a unique, luxury performance SUV, the Levante deserves a hard look. If you drive it, I can almost guarantee you’ll buy it.
Special thanks to Park Place Premier Collection in Dallas for their help in making this review possible.