Original Review can be found here.
By AARON ROBINSON
All pictures are courtesy of Car & Driver
First Drive Review
In the last two decades, every luxury brand decided it needed an SUV to remain relevant is that we know of, although it would almost certainly be, as the Donald says, yuge!) The influx is because buyers have shown no squeamishness toward SUVs from traditional luxury and sporting brands, and the only real trick is translating an exotic label’s core values into a four-door hatchback mall-crawler.
Maserati unabashedly declares victory in that effort by calling its new Levante “the Maserati of SUVs.” And now that we’ve pounded some of northern Italy’s pavement in what is likely to be the closest thing to a Ferrari off-roader that we’ll ever get, at least for a while, we’re buying the sales pitch. The gleaming silvery trident has been thrust into the truck genre in a way that stays true to the Modenese boutique’s strongest selling points. Taking the Ghibli sedan for its guts, the Levante both improves on that vehicle and offers character that is distinct from every SUV that has preceded it. No small accomplishment, but as Maserati CEO Harald Wester says, “It should be good, we’ve been working on it for 13 years,” a reference to the original 2003 Maserati Kubang concept.
Less a Crossover than a Tall Wagon
It’s best to think of the Levante, named for a wind in the western Mediterranean, as a Ghibli wagon in the mold of the Audi Allroad line. That means it’s a primarily on-pavement, all-weather fast hauler with just enough all-wheel-drive capability and driver-selectable ride-height range to provide some decent trail abilities. Like the current crop of Maseratis, the Levante is fast, it’s ferociously loud when it needs to be, and it wrings the bejeezus out of a corner, but it’s even better than the Ghibli that underpins it. Call it Ghibli 2.0.