Maserati has hit a home run with the Levante SUV (FCAU)

Man oh man! Maserati has just crushed it with the Levante.

Man oh man! Maserati has just crushed it with the Levante.

Matthew DeBord/BI

I didn’t drive the car for long, but when I was driving it, I thought it was brilliant. This is easily the best luxury performance crossover SUV to hit the market this year and worthy competition for the Cayenne. Maserati set a tall order for itself with that one, but they appear to have pulled it off.

I drove the 424-horsepower-engined Levante and when I kicked it into Sport mode, the engine made growling, joyful, and at-times sorta nasty music. The all-wheel-drive system can interpret your driving style and keep most of the traction on the rear wheels or move some grip farther forward, if you need some help. I was used to this from the Ghibli, and it continues to do a fine job with the Levante.

The suspension is taut without being overly stiff, and bodyroll is limited in the corners, which the Levante gobbles up smoothly for a vehicle that tips the scale at over 4,500 lbs. In a straight line, the SUV from Modena flat-out cooks. That dropped center of gravity and the 50-50 weight split gives you more control than you’re probably accustomed to, if you’ve been piloting traditional SUVs. It might give you more control than you get from some sports cars!

I like the way I feel in a Maserati, and the Levante did not fail to make me feel those feelings. I’m really, really, really looking forward to a slightly longer date with this budding masterpiece of Italian SUV-ness.

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