2017 Maserati Levante Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
May 29, 2017

The 2017 Maserati Levante sets a tone that other ultra-luxury automakers will soon follow: Look great, stand tall, go fast. In that order.

Far from the prima donnas they used to be, Maserati knows it still has a flair for drama in its vehicles.

The 2017 Maserati Levante is proof of that. It’s the first SUV from the Italian firm and one of the first of a slew of ultra-luxury SUVs that will arrive thick and fast.

We give the Levante a 6.8 on our overall scale for its superlative exterior sheet metal and generous features. We have a few qualms with performance and finish, but Maseratis have always had character. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The 2017 Maserati Levante is a stunner outside. Its sumptuous curves and wide rear haunches trump its tall proportions. That’s not easy to do in an SUV. Blacked-out window pillars draw eyes to the chrome accent that frames the windows in a stunning greenhouse.

The abbreviated version? The Levante can, and has for us, stopped traffic.

On the move it’s a different story, of sorts. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, the Levante makes 345 horsepower or 425 hp in Levante S configuration. An 8-speed automatic handles shifting duties, with optional paddle shifters on some models. All-wheel drive, which Maserati calls Q4, is standard. The trio compels the base Maserati up to 60 mph in under 6 seconds—or 5 seconds flat in Levante S trim.

That’s plenty quick, but Maserati’s outre approach to style didn’t extend to the sensation of speed. At highways speeds or faster, the Levante is unusually quiet—especially considering its sonorous growl at idle.

Striking? Yup. Unexpected in places? Uh huh. Especially in its reasonable price, which starts just north of $70,000.

Every bit a Maserati then.

8

2017 Maserati Levante

Styling

Stunning from the outside, the Maserati Levante reads better in person.

The 2017 Maserati Levante is about style if nothing else. The low nose, broad shoulders and wide hips are matched only by the SUV’s gracefully outlined cabin. It’s a stunning shape and—for now—draws attention on the road.

We give it an 8 out of 10 for beautiful exterior grace. The interior won’t, can’t, and doesn’t match the exterior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For what it is on the outside, the Levante would struggle on the inside. Aside from the copious leather and numerous tridents in relief on the headrests and steering wheel, the interior is devoid of the same expressive style as the exterior. Aside from bolting the steering wheel to the roof, how could it reach the same level of flamboyance?

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7

2017 Maserati Levante

Performance

All Levantes are quick, but the Levante S is closer to the idea of what you might be expecting from a Maserati SUV.

Regardless of trim, the 2017 Maserati Levante is powered by the same 3.0-liter V-6 that’s turbocharged up to 345 horsepower or 425 hp depending on spec. That’s shifted through a standard 8-speed automatic that powers all four wheels via Maserati’s all-wheel-drive system, dubbed Q4.

The Levante S should be enough to impress and its flat attitude is impressive for its weight. It nearly loses a point due to an indecisive and overeager 8-speed, but we’ll stop there. It earns a 7 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

A drive mode selector toggles the Levante through manual, eco, sport, off road, and normal drive settings. As standard, the Levante comes equipped with an adjustable suspension that can toggle among five ride heights for better clearance, easier entry/access, or a more aerodynamic shape.

Let’s talk about extremes. A low-riding Aero 2 setting drops the Levante down by nearly an inch below the “Normal” setting to cut a smaller hole in the wind; tall off-road modes can raise the Levante by more than 2 inches for 9.7 inches of ground clearance.

Sport mode will be the most popular, and considering Maserati’s pedigree, it may also be what many buyers are looking for from the brand’s first SUV. Hitting the button once opens up exhaust baffles and the quad-tipped tailpipes out back shout to life. Throttle response sharpens, and the Levante roars.

Tap the button twice and the Levante’s activates a sport suspension setting that stiffens dampers and adds weight to the steering.

That’s the good news. The bad news? The mellifluous exhaust that rumbles at idle becomes inexplicably quiet at speed. Go fig.

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5

2017 Maserati Levante

Comfort & Quality

First impressions are everything. Unfortunately for the Levante, it’s not the only thing.

Big and comfortable for four, the 2017 Maserati Levante doesn’t extend much further than that.

We give it a 5 for comfort with a caveat: the Levante seats four or five in plenty of comfort, but perhaps not the luxury you’d expect. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For just over $70,000 to start, the Levante’s shape is devastating and it’s surprisingly affordable. Step inside of the SUV and you’ll start to see how they made up the difference.

Leathers are soft and the hides of our tester (Maserati called the leather shade of our test car “Cuoio,” which means “leather” in Italian—this is leather-colored leather?) were certainly soft.

However, the center console has some black plastics that we weren’t expecting and a hollow-feeling shift knob was disconcerting. The switchgear, like turn signal stalks and window switches, has been liberally borrowed from other FCA vehicles that cost thousands lest, and the seating is only slightly better than you’d find in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Can we see it from the outside again?

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2017 Maserati Levante

Safety

No safety data available, but advanced systems are pricey.

Neither major safety rating agency has crashed a Levante, and we’re not expecting them to anytime soon. Maserati may sell more SUVs than they do sedans and coupes, but even then, it probably won’t be enough to trigger mandatory testing. As a result we’re withholding our scores. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All models, including the 2017 Maserati Levante S, include standard airbags, traction and stability control programs, and high-strength steel construction.

Optional packages add blind-spot monitors, forward-collision warnings, a surround-view camera system, and adaptive cruise control. Unfortunately, all together those packages can add more than $4,000 to the bottom line, and at this level they really should be standard.

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2017 Maserati Levante

Features

The Maserati Levante is surprisingly affordable given its exterior appeal. Go wild.

The Levante is equipped appropriately as a luxury SUV, although bundled packages will be popular with shoppers looking at the Maserati.

We give the Levante a point for good base equipment, great customization options, and a good 8.4-inch touchscreen for infotainment. It earns an 8 out of 10 on our scale for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Base SUVs are equipped with all the goodies: Bluetooth, power adjustable seats, automatic climate controls, leather seats, 18-inch wheels—the works.

Maserati offers popular luxury and sport packages that add bigger wheels, softer leather, sunroof or premium audio. A Sport 21 package even garnishes the Levante with 21-inch wheels.

Of course, all of these come at a pretty penny. It’s possible to tip a Levante S with custom options into six figures.

Were you expecting anything less from a luxury Italian?

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5

2017 Maserati Levante

Fuel Economy

The Levante’s 8-speed helps fuel economy, but it’s hardly fuel-efficient.

SUVs can get thirstier than the Levante’s 3.0-liter turbo-6, but not many.

The EPA rates both models nearly identically. The Levante earned a 13 mpg city, 20 highway, 16 combined rating from the EPA. Opting for the Levante S drops the highway figure by 1 mpg.

That earns a middle-of-the-road 5 out of 10 from us. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$72,600
MSRP based on 3.0L
 
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6.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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