2017 Maserati Levante
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2017 Maserati Levante Review
You can argue all you want about whether or not certain companies should build crossovers. That's what the comments section is for. We'd argue that Maserati should have done it a long time ago, having shown its first crossover concept back in 2011 and only delivering on it now. Porsche blazed that trail with the Cayenne and others have followed suit since, racking up big sales. It's a little odd, then, that after waiting so long to get in the game, the Levante came together in just 22 months.
The original plan was for the Levante to be based on and built in Detroit alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee. That changed when Sergio Marchionne decided, in his dictatorial way, that all Maseratis and Alfa Romeos would be designed, engineered, and manufactured in Italy. So the team hit reset, borrowed the Ghibli platform, and went about creating a not-quite-a-crossover, taller-than-a-wagon hatchback with air suspension. Just shy of two years later, we're driving the Levante. In Italy, naturally. The dimensions and stance are what set the Levante apart from the abundance of luxury performance crossovers and emphasize its Italianness. It's longer, wider, and lower than a Porsche Cayenne or the Grand Cherokee it was nearly spawned from. The hood looks impossibly long in person because it is really long. The front end takes inspiration from the Alfieri concept, and there's a refreshing lack of mesh or filler between the grille's thin vertical slats. It can stand to be so open because there is a set of active grille shutters just behind to manage airflow. What would be usable cargo space on a blockier crossover is sacrificed by a rakish hatch, which looks pretty and we're told routes air in a particularly aerodynamic-friendly fashion. Instead of building the boxy version first, Maserati took the gamble and went straight to the fashionable coupe-ish shape. That foresight paid off, as it seems the coupe-like SUV trend is here to stay. This is the point where we usually say the difference between one mode and the next on a 'sporty' crossover is academic. Not the case here. The first press of the Sport button wakes you and the car up, tightening the throttle response, signaling the transmission to hold gears and, most important, opening valves in the exhaust to let people three hills over know you're on the way. Press Sport again and a more aggressive suspension tune jumps into action, limiting roll as much as it can and keeping this 4,700-pound machine from porpoising as it assaults uneven pavement. For more relaxed driving, Normal mode keeps things relatively quiet, although you still get pleasant revs on downshifts and audible turbo-exhaust interplay on upshifts. The transmission, a ZF eight-speed automatic, is very well calibrated in this application, something that can't always be said for it in other Fiat Chrysler models. It anticipates your next move well and avoids the usual flummoxing when the driver gets in and out of the throttle abruptly. The transmission also doesn't call attention to those final few gear changes that get it up into eighth on the highway. No fuel-economy numbers have been shared, but we'd expect the Levante to come in just under the Ghibli S Q4's 16 mpg city, 24 highway ratings. While the modes make a difference, there wasn't much difference between the Levante and Levante S we drove. The S certainly accelerates more quickly, with Maserati quoting a 5.0-second 0â€“62-mph sprint for the more powerful model and a 5.8-second time for the 345-horse version. While you can feel that with your foot on the floor, the difference is more nuanced at saner speeds. More power is better, of course, but the base car has adequate output. We're told the $11,000 price difference between the two trim levels will account for added equipment in addition to the extra power, so the S may still be the one you want from a logical perspective. You may have noted the discussion of systems affected by vehicle modes did not include the steering. That's because, like its Maserati brethren, the Levante uses an old-fashioned hydraulic rack. So there are no adjustments to make to the weight, response, or 'feel' provided like you get with an electric-assist system. There's also a lack of advanced safety features â€“ like lane-keeping, autonomous steering, or even self-parking â€“ as they rely on computers being able to step in through electric power steering. The upshot is authentic analog feel and feedback from a nicely tuned steering rack. It may be an anachronism, but it's the good kind. The hydraulic steering was most welcome on a short off-road course. Having an idea of what resistance the front wheels face is a help when maneuvering in the dirt. While our brief mud-and-rock jaunt showed that the Q4 all-wheel-drive system and air suspension provide capability beyond what a Levante owner would subject the car to, we were almost more impressed that the Pirelli P Zero tires were able to both hook up and avoid destruction. It was definitely the first and probably the last time we'd consider taking those tires over anything more challenging than a patch of grass. In the US, all-season tires will come standard and the Pirelli summer tires will be optional.
For the brand's first crossover, and one that was spit out in less time than it takes some companies to choose the paint colors, the Levante is impressive. It's genuinely fun to drive in anger, settles down to a stiff comfort on highway slogs, and manages to look different from the rest of the pack. In short, it's a real Maserati, as long as you can get past the shape. And if you can't, there's always the comments section.
2017 Maserati Levante
Call: 1-800-851-9000 | 1-561-862-5657
Int'l: 1-561-862-5657 | 1-310-860-8986
Call: 1-561-862-5657 | 1-800-851-9000
Int'l: 1-310-860-8986 | 1-561-862-5657
Bodystyle: Sport Utility
Ext Color: Grigio Metallic
Int Color: Nero
Engine Description: V6 Cylinder Engine 3.0L
Transmission: 8-Speed A/T
Drivetrain: All Wheel Drive
Item Number: J207188
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Disclaimer: All advertised lease payments are based with 10% capitalized cost reductions plus standard drive off fee's. Typical terms are 48-63 months with A tier one credit and are based on between 10-12K miles per year. Payments shown don't include taxes or registration fee's, are subject to credit approval and prior sale. All advertised prices and payments include all factory rebates and incentives and are subject to qualification. Photos shown are vehicle stock photos and are for demonstration purposes only. Actual vehicle may vary based on color, options and trim level selected. Prices may vary by region depending on market conditions. Vehicle may be subject to prior sale. We and our partners disclaim any warranty as to the availability of, condition of, or accuracy of information provided about the vehicles listed on this website. Some vehicles may have dealer added equipment not disclosed.