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