Maserati, better known for high-end sports cars and executive-level luxury sedans, enters the SUV fray with its first-ever SUV, the Levante.

The new five-passenger Maserati will compete with other high-end coupe-like SUVs such as the Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, and BMW X6.

The company proudly proclaims that the Levante is “made in Italy” and built on the Ghibli sedan platform. According to Maserati, the SUV’s name was “inspired by a warm, Mediterranean wind that can change from mild to gale force in an instant.”

Base models are powered by a Ferrari-built twin-turbo 3.0 liter V6 engine making 345 hp. Top-trim S models use the same engine but crank out 424 hp. Both are hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission, a powertrain similar to the one in our tested Ghibli. Adjustable drive modes include Normal, Sport, and Off-Road. Each setting alters the vehicle’s engine, transmission, and suspension performance. It’s reasonable to expect that in Sport mode the Levante will emit the trademark Maserati bark.

Company-supplied performance data pegs the Levante S hitting 60 mph from rest in a brisk 5.0 seconds while the base model goes from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds

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2017 Maserati Levante interior

Maserati also says the Levante has a 50/50 weight ratio to facilitate sporty handling.

Standard equipment includes all-wheel drive and an adaptive air suspension—providing five different ride height levels depending on the conditions.

Expect the usual high-end interior treatments inside, including fancy leather and available wood or carbon fiber trim. We hope that this SUV’s fit and finish is a step up from what we found in our tested Ghibli S Q4 sedan, whose craftsmanship was decidedly not up to snuff for a $90,000 car.

Other interior features include a standard 8.4-inch touch screen with navigation that uses Chrysler’s UConnect system, a hands-free power tailgate, dual-zone climate system, heated and vented front seats, and other luxury amenities.

Standard safety gear includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with brake assist, lane departure warning, and a surround view camera.

The Levante will be available by late summer 2016 starting at $72,000 for the 345-hp base model and reaching $83,000 for the 424-hp S version. 

2017 Maserati Levante rear