Friday, March 17, 2017

First Drive: 2017 Maserati Levante/Levante S

Maserati has been making cars since 1914. In over 100 years, Maserati has never made a SUV. The luxury SUV is a growing market. Porsche has the Cayenne. In 2016, Bentley came out with the Bentayga, Jaguar released the F-Pace, and Tesla released the Model S. In 2016, Maserati came out with the Levante, a mid-size luxury SUV. The Levante comes in two powertrains, both are 3.0L twin-turbo V6 engines paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Levante gets 346 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque from its engine. The Levante S get 424 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. But is the Levante worthy of the trident?

The Levante is a luxurious, yet sporty SUV. The headlight design and the front fascia give the Levante an aggressive styling. It also has sleek lines going along the sides. It comes standard with 19" wheels with 20" and 21" wheels available. You have a few color options for the brake calipers. One difference between the Levante and Levante S is that the Levante S has vented brake rotors and larger brake calibers compare to the Levante. The Levante S comes standard with a dual pane sunroof, remote start and blindspot monitoring system, all which are options on the standard Levante. Navigation, Bluetooth, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, and power liftgate are standard on the Levante and Levante S. Heated steering wheel and heated leather seats are standard with available ventilated seats. Also to add more luxury and style, Zegna silk accents are available on the seats and door panels.

The Levante and Levante S are both powered by a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Levante and Levante S are both AWD and come with adjustable ride height. Both come with Skyhook system, which allows the driver to choose between comfort or sport-handling dynamics. The Levante can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and has a top speed of 156 mph. The Levante S goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and has a top speed of 164 mph. I have driven both in normal and sport mode and there is a difference. In normal mode, the Levante and Levante S have a smooth, comfortable ride. Put them into sport mode and you get increased throttle response, increased steering response, and a louder, sportier exhaust note. With sport suspension mode active, the ride is stiff but not harsh. I felt the bumps in the road, but I was still comfortable behind the wheel. I felt a difference in power and performance between the Levante S and the Levante. You can feel the added power and breaking power of the Levante S. Prices for the Levante start at $72,600. Prices for the Levante S start at $85,050. If you want luxury with a some thrills, go with the Levante. If you want luxury with performance, go with the Levante S.

Overall, the Levante and Levante S are both worthy of the Maserati trident. They have luxury, style and performance. The main competitor for the Levante is the Porsche Cayenne. The Cayenne has more engine options, including a couple with more power and torque, and has been around longer, but the Levante has better exterior styling, a more economical interior layout, and a better exhaust note. For around the same price as the base Levante, there is the 485 hp Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. However, the Levante handles better than the Grand Cherokee SRT. In terms of exterior styling, the Levante has the advantage over other luxury mid-size SUVs including the Jaguar F-Pace and Bentley Bentayga. The price tag for the Levante and Levante S is high, but you are getting great value for the money.

Photo was taken by a camera phone.
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