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2017 Maserati Levante
Discount Maserati Prices
Low Levante Lease Payments
All Color Options Available Nationwide Delivery
In the last two decades, every luxury brand decided it needed an SUV to remain relevant in a market gone bonkers for tall wagonoids. (Well, almost every one; Ferrari says there’s no way it will commit to any truck that we know of, although it would almost certainly be, as the Donald says, yuge!) The influx is because buyers have shown no squeamishness toward SUVs from traditional luxury and sporting brands, and the only real trick is translating an exotic label’s core values into a four-door hatchback mall-crawler. Maserati unabashedly declares victory in that effort by calling its new Levante “the Maserati of SUVs.” And now that we’ve pounded some of northern Italy’s pavement in what is likely to be the closest thing to a Ferrari off-roader that we’ll ever get, at least for a while, we’re buying the sales pitch. The gleaming silvery trident has been thrust into the truck genre in a way that stays true to the Modenese boutique’s strongest selling points. Taking the Ghibli sedan for its guts, the Levante both improves on that vehicle and offers character that is distinct from every SUV that has preceded it. No small accomplishment, but as Maserati CEO Harald Wester says, “It should be good, we’ve been working on it for 13 years,” a reference to the original 2003 Maserati Kubang concept. Less a Crossover than a Tall Wagon It’s best to think of the Levante, named for a wind in the western Mediterranean, as a Ghibli wagon in the mold of the Audi Allroad line. That means it’s a primarily on-pavement, all-weather fast hauler with just enough all-wheel-drive capability and driver-selectable ride-height range to provide some decent trail abilities. Like the current crop of Maseratis, the Levante is fast, it’s ferociously loud when it needs to be, and it wrings the bejeezus out of a corner, but it’s even better than the Ghibli that underpins it. Call it Ghibli 2.0. The Levante runs the Ghibli’s relatively small but fiery 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 with two horsepower ratings to choose from: 345 in the $72,000 base Levante and 424 in the $83,000 S (not including final destination charges, which haven’t been announced). The latter is a 20-hp increase from the Ghibli S’s output due to changes to the Levante’s intake and exhaust as well as software tweaks, and the factory puts the 60-mph sprint at 5.0 seconds (5.8 seconds for the 345-hp model). The last Ghibli S we tested did the deed in 4.7. We’re told that prototype Levantes have been built using the Quattroporte’s 523-hp 3.8-liter V-8, but there are no announced plans to produce it. There’s also a 3.0-liter diesel version not intended for the U.S., but we’re not weeping over that. Our short turn in the Levante diesel showed it to be a Maserati with its heart cut out. Meanwhile, the throttle response in the gas V-6 has been greatly improved over the all-or-nothing Ghibli’s. The engineers contrived the Levante’s throttle-pedal stroke to produce vigorous initial response, the eight-speed ZF automatic quickly downshifting to pitch the revs up into a fatter torque range. The Levante S we drove was never caught flat-footed, and it surged with a thrilling lupine bark from its quad pipes as soon as we poked it. That deep, esophageal snarl, so distinctly Italian, never gets old, and it’s one thing that separates the Levante from the German luxury-crossover contingent, including the Audi SQ5 and Q7, the Porsche Cayenne, and the BMW X5. Another distinguishing characteristic is the steering. Maserati sticks with hydraulic assist in a world gone largely electric, which helps give the large, three-spoke steering wheel an organic alertness. It tugs and sags over rolling pavement in a vintage way that is now largely lost (or, at least, imperfectly simulated) in the wider industry. Nothing imparts a sense of control more than a direct connection to the front tires, and with good visibility out to the corners, the big Levante is an easy car to place precisely in a turn. When a driver can confidently clip a corner inches from a curb in a car that is more than 16 feet long, weighs about 4650 pounds, and tows nearly 6000 pounds, then Maserati has done its job.