The luxury SUV, once a fringe commodity but now a staple of every major car manufacturer’s lineup, is poised to be one of the most enduring trends in motoring over the next decade.
The market for these luxury SUVs has exploded in recent years, breathing new life into some automakers’ balance sheets and reshaping the sales landscape for years to come. Maserati, for example, is boasting that their Levante already accounts for over half of their sales — despite being a brand new line.
In fact, over 90% of Levante buyers who were surveyed at purchase claimed that the luxury SUV was their first Maserati purchase. That’s a serious handful of sales to make in one go, and it’s bolstered the numbers in Maserati‘s customer base by no insignificant amount.
Considering that it launched in the UK in 2016 as a diesel-only machine geared toward current Maserati owners, the car’s sales figures and performance benchmarks just a short two years down the line are impressive, to say the least. So — what’s got drivers so excited?
To begin with, the Levante is a genuinely Italian product. The car is produced in Turin, and the manufacturer has left nothing to chance in ensuring that the car performs well in every distinguishable category possible. Gone is the diesel-only attitude, and on our doorsteps is a throaty Ferrari-built gas engine. Maserati‘s done a good job, as far as flashy entrances are concerned.
There are a few versions available, and plenty of options available for equipment for each, but here’s a look at what you’ll find across all the variants first and foremost: standard in the new cars are a snappy leather upholstery with heated and ventilated seats in both the front and rear, as well as a heated steering wheel. Four-zone climate control is also stock, as is a panoramic sunroof. Comfort was obviously a primary concern for Maserati‘s design team this time out. A Bowers & Wilkins audio system, surround camera and rear-view camera system, and the car’s other charms can be operated via an 8.4″ touchscreen.
As for performance, that’s where most of the improvements have been made over last year’s Levante. Four-wheel-drive and a state of the art air suspension are standard on the new car, as is an all-new electronic steering system that more intelligently handles torque and power distribution than last year’s model. That’s thankful, because the Maserati-Ferrari collaboration under the hood makes the car good for a 0-60 time of about 5 seconds (depending on how you equip the car), with similar numbers to the Porsche Cayenne GTS across the board.
There are two engine variants available, speaking of equipment. There is a 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6 good for 345 horsepower in the base model, and a larger, more powerful version in the Levante S. Both engine variants use the same eight-speed automatic transmission. The heavier-handed Levante can tow up to 5,900 pounds, which is impressive for its class.
That power has given the Levante stronger acceleration figures than many of its competitors’ cars since last year, and the crossover utilizes an effective, if somewhat aggressive, start-stop system to help it get off the line. Paired with the brand-new handling profile and the ride quality provided by the air-suspension, the new Levante is both sprite and agile, the way you’d expect a Maserati to be.
As for the available trim level options, there are two: the GranLusso, which is more luxury-oriented than the other models, and the GranSport, which is the Levante‘s performance-minded variant.
The GranLusso has plenty of comforts and touches that make it a pleasant and classy place to sit, such as open-pore wood trimming, wood finish on the steering wheel, 12-way adjustable seats (which are also heated), and two different interior dressing profiles available — that’s a fully Italian-leather variant, and a silk-laden upholstery by Ermengildo Zenga.
The sport version, the GranSport, has sporty front seats, a sporty steering wheel, chrome paddle shifters, and highly adjustable pedals.
There’s plenty on-board the Levante to put the safety-minded driver at ease, too. The car comes with lane keeping assist, blind spot warnings, highway assist, forward collision warning, emergency automatic braking, cruise control, rear-cross traffic alerts, and much more as part of its driver-assistance suite.
The Levante has revitalized Maserati‘s lineup, and is capturing the attention of first-time owners like no other car before it. Clearly, the Levante will be here for a while — given the sheer number of things it does right, it’s easy to see why Maserati are placing so much stock in their first-ever crossover SUV.
Video courtesy of Cars.com