2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo review: Fast but flawed

The styling of this vehicle is quite luxurious.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

2020 Maserati Levante is a kind of lure and switch. It’s like paying for a grand cru burgundy and getting a bottle of Boone’s Farm instead. It draws you in with luscious style, the promise of instant stardom that comes with the daily driving of an exotic Italian and, of course, mind blowing speed, especially in the guise of a top-of-the-line Trofeo. This SUV certainly delivers in those areas, although, unfortunately, the Levante falls short of most others.

Like it

  • Sublime engine of Ferrari origin
  • Beautiful style
  • Brand exclusivity

I do not like

  • So so driving dynamics
  • Mediocre interior
  • Too expensive

But let’s start with the best part of this eye-catching SUV: the powertrain. Behind its menacing front is a little gem of an engine, a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 stolen from Ferrari. Despite its rather small displacement, it’s an absolute firecracker – hell, practically a whole crate of dynamite. This engine hits far, far above its weight class, producing an astonishing 590 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. And yes, all those ponies make the Levante Trofeo really fast, taking it from standstill to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds.

This performance is aided by a smooth and responsive eight-speed automatic transmission, which routes torque to the curb through an all-wheel drive system and limited-slip differential for added safety. As for fuel consumption, expect 14 miles per gallon in the city and 18mpg on the highway. Together, this SUV is rated at 15, a figure I managed to beat by 1mpg in real-world driving.

Not only this is Maserati V8 powerful, mellifluous and silky, it pulls with the linearity of a naturally aspirated engine. There are no discernable hiccups, spikes or sagging as it goes about its business. Vibration and hardness are also almost non-existent. Truly, this is a nice powerplant. It’s just a shame that the rest of this vehicle’s dynamics aren’t so well balanced.

The Levante’s steering has quite a bit of weight, but it’s not particularly sharp or fast. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio, a competing high-performance SUV from an Italian brand (and Maserati’s corporate cousin), feels much livelier in your hands. The brakes on this Maserati are also a bit strange. The vehicle has a lot of stopping power, but the pedal is too soft underfoot and can be a bit difficult to modulate without a problem. When it comes to ride quality, the Levante Trophy it is certainly starchy, although not so brutally. In its softer setting, the air suspension system helps eliminate roadway imperfections, but if you make it stiffer, the surfaces under your feet are transmitted with greater fidelity, even if, again, this isn’t unbearable. Sleek 22-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile Continental SportContact 6 tires offer plenty of style and grip, although the Trofeo model is powerful enough to screech these tires when hitting the accelerator.

This turbo-charged V8 of Ferrari origin is absolutely divine.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Yes, the Levante looks good, with those angular headlights (which are of the LED variety and also adaptive), wide flanks, and generally tasteful proportions, but its interior leaves a lot to be desired. The Trofeo model tested here features acres of beautiful leather throughout the cabin, accented by bright red stitching. The roof trim and roof pillars are also covered in rich Alcantara fabric, while the 12-way adjustable front chairs are comfortable and solid enough to be chiropractor approved. The rear seat is, surprisingly, very roomy even for lanky adults. My tester is also equipped with 3D carbon fiber trims which are very nice and tastefully used throughout the interior. Rather than being treated with a glass-like finish, this carbon fiber has a texture, a tactile feel where the texture of the material is exposed, something that makes it feel super special.

Maserati nailed the basics with these interiors, so what’s the deal? Well, if you look a little closer, the smells of cost reduction become apparent. The Levante has a premium price tag (more on that shortly) and yet its cabin is filled with mass-market Fiat-Chrysler controls, from window switches to the turn signal lever to the start button. There is nothing inherently mistaken with these components, they simply belong to a file Chrysler Pacifica, not a Maserati. Poor climate controls and wobbly finishes on the center console further detract from the experience.

Another area where pinched pennies are noticeable is in the infotainment department. The Maserati Touch Control Plus (MTC +) system is basically FCA Uconnect with another name. With an 8.4-inch touchscreen, it’s just as friendly and responsive as what you get, let’s say, at Dodge Durango, but it features some Maserati graphics and a control knob on the center console so you don’t have to peek at the display if you don’t want to. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this infotainment solution, but shouldn’t a Maserati offer more?

Unfortunately, the interior of this high-performance SUV is a mixed bag.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Like its siblings, MTC + is also equipped with an integrated navigation system Apple CarPlay is Android Auto. Of course, the Levante offers many other technologies, features such as blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance and a surround camera system. My tester also comes with a nifty feature called Highway Assist, which is basically adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality and lane centering. Unlike competing systems, this one includes sensors in the steering wheel, so the vehicle knows whether your hands are on the bar or not. When activated, Highway Assist does a good job keeping the Levante in the center of its lane, even if it’s not very smooth, constantly making small corrections, incessantly sawing off the steering wheel, which is weird and a little disconcerting.

An entry-level Maserati Levante starts at around $ 80,000, although even at that level it looks quite expensive. The top-notch Trofeo model seen here is nearly twice as expensive, priced at $ 152,685, including $ 1,495 in destination tax. Sure, this substantial outlay gets you a nice vehicle with solid dynamics and a delightful Ferrari engine, but there are plenty of other SUVs out there that are more enjoyable to drive and a lot less expensive. But also rivals with similar prices like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo is BMW X5 M, or, hell, even the related Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which has similar technology and framework, feel much more beautiful. Unless you’re bent on buying a Maserati, it would be wise to consider another SUV.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *