Driving the Sporty, Ostentatious 2017 Maserati Levante
Performance, personality, and imperfections
It was inevitable. Now Maserati is offering an SUV. Is nothing sacred? Evidently not, as other storied marques known for sports cars or sleek coupes have jumped on that fashionable SUV bandwagon as well, an unfathomable concept several years ago.
Often market pressures trump brand sensibilities. To wit, Bentley and Jaguar have recently introduced their first-ever SUVs. Heck, Porsche already has compact and midsized ones. As SUVs represent half of all luxury-vehicle purchases, it's a business necessity. But keeping the brand DNA intact while moving into new segments represents a challenge for automakers' engineers, designers, and marketers.
So is the new Maserati Levante still a Maserati? We've spent some time driving the new Levante on our turf, and we can say that it shamelessly packs the verve of this luxury Italian designer marque. It oozes performance and personality, as well as its fair share of imperfections. Yep, it's a Maserati all right.
Based on the Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans, the Levante's long snout, wide stance, and coupe-like styling attempt to mask the fact that this is a large vehicle. At 197 inches, it's six inches longer than a Porsche Cayenne, its most direct competitor. Pricing starts at $72,000 for the base model with a 3.0-liter turbo V6, producing 345 horsepower. The uplevel S model starts at $83,000 and brings a 424-horsepower version of this Ferrari-developed engine. All-wheel drive is standard. The 2017 Maserati Levante we rented from the manufacturer would hover around $90,000 when it goes on sale in September.