by Sebastian Cenizo
When a company like Maserati launches a new product, particularly when it's a hotted-up version of something they already make, a natural air of anticipation permeates the air. For 2019, that new model is the go-faster version of Maserati's Levante SUV, named the Trofeo. This all-wheel-drive uber-SUV is powered by a Ferrari-derived 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8. A familiar engine to the lineup, this model produces even more power than the GTS variant. Here we have 590 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque, with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission reprising its role as intermediary between the engine and the wheels. As you'd expect, this model is more expensive than any other Levante, but what you may want to sit down for is how much more expensive it is. At just under $170,000, the Trofeo is 50 grand dearer than the GTS. So is it worth it? Let's see.
As a new model, the Levante Trofeo has no frame of reference beyond its lesser siblings. To help it stand out, this model gets bigger wheels as standard, more included features that you'd pay extra for on the GTS, and of course more power. In addition, a Corsa drive mode is added, further stiffening the suspension and improving throttle response and gear changes. In this mode, you also get launch control and a rear bias in terms of the torque split in the all-wheel-drive system.
3.8-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
The Levante Trofeo shares much of its design with the GTS models, but gains larger 21-inch wheels as standard, with 22-inch wheels available as a no-cost option. All the signature Maserati design cues are there, including the large front grille with the trademark trident, the three subtle vents in each fender, a small tailgate spoiler, and a quad-exit exhaust arrangement. LED lighting features all-round, while splashes of carbon fiber adorn the rear diffuser, front fascia, and side sills. A dual-pane panoramic sunroof is standard.
The Levante Trofeo is a fairly large vehicle, standing at a height of 66.9 inches. Its length measures 197.6 inches from end to end, and width is 77.4 inches. The wheelbase measures 118.2 inches and curb weight starts at 4,784 lbs. Ground clearance is eight inches. All of these dimensions are identical to those of the Levante GTS.
The Levante Trofeo is available in a host of colors, all of which are no-cost options thanks to this model's top billing. Choices include non-metallic Bianco and six metallic options: a matte gray called Grigio Lava, a rich black called Nero Ribelle, a dark gray named Grigio Maratea, a lighter gray simply called Grigio, and another white called Bianco Alpi. The most striking of the lot, however, is a deep blue called Blu Emozione. Your brake calipers can also be had in a variety of colors: black, red, blue, yellow, or silver. The first three options feature a black Maserati script while the last two are accented in black.
The Trofeo is a standalone model that rules over all the other variants beneath it. Although it has an off-road mode, most owners are unlikely to ever consider taking advantage of the eight-inch ground clearance for more than mounting a curb. No, this SUV wants to go fast, and its all-wheel-drive system is more focused on maximizing traction in the pursuit of speed than on climbing rocks. With a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 based on a Ferrari creation, the Trofeo puts an astonishing 590 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque to the ground through all four wheels. This allows it to accelerate from 0-60 mph in a scant 3.8 seconds. If you can find a road long enough, the Levante will reach a terminal velocity of a tick more than 187 mph. Helping keep it solid and stable in the corners is an adaptive suspension setup that can make the ride all but unbearable with the advantage of a large reduction in body roll.
The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 in the Maserati Levante Trofeo is brilliant. The performance that a 590 hp, 538 lb-ft powertrain provides is incredible, but since this is an Italian vehicle, and since its heart has Ferrari DNA, it sounds phenomenal too. In Corsa mode, the adaptive exhaust system opens some flaps, thus allowing you to wake up everyone around you with a symphony of aural pleasure - or at least we hope your neighbors will see it that way. Of course, with almost 4,800 lbs to contend with, the engine would be even more impressive in a lighter vehicle, but the Levante Trofeo is by no means slow. Throttle response is brilliant and power delivery is both linear and strong, whether you're accelerating from a set of lights or overtaking the sheep in their German SUVs. Helping put some gloss on the sheen of the engine is the widely-praised ZF eight-speed automatic, a transmission that keeps up with your requests in an almost telepathic manner. The feel of those aluminum shifters is also a joy to experience, and when you've had your fun playing racecar driver, the gearbox can be left to its own devices without any irritation as a result. Shifts in Comfort mode are smooth and silky, yet a jab of the accelerator wakes everything up when a sudden need to burn fuel arises. The styling may be subjective, but the engine and transmission cannot be faulted.
The aforementioned Corsa mode tightens up the suspension considerably, helping make the Levante more agile and less prone to body roll. It also quickens the steering in a way that the lesser GTS model can't compete with. This makes the Levante Trofeo feel smaller and lighter than it is, allowing one to carve up mountain roads with relative ease. Should you need to come to a sudden stop, the six-piston Brembo brake calipers on each end of the front axle bite down hard, yet manage to be easy to modulate in traffic too. However, as with most electric steering setups, there is a noticeable lack of feel from the front wheels. Unfortunately, the negatives don't start and end there. While Corsa mode may be too stiff for anything but the smoothest surfaces, the more comfort-oriented modes aren't much better. Maserati wanted to build an SUV that still had a lot of sportscar DNA, and the result hasn't been executed to perfection. A vehicle like this should be able to offer a supple ride too, and supple is the last word anyone would think of after going for a short drive in this. True, the Levante rarely feels unsettled or like it's going to tip over, but while you can blast through corners with a big smile on your face, the drive home will be a jaunt that you'll want ended sooner rather than later.
Official fuel consumption figures from the EPA reveal that the Levante Trofeo scored 14/18/15 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. These figures are identical to those of the less powerful GTS model but lag slightly behind those of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo's 15/19/17 mpg on the same cycles.
The Levante Trofeo is fitted with a 21.1-gallon gas tank, offering an estimated range of 316.5 miles with mixed driving.
The Levante Trofeo is well-specced in stock form, featuring heated and ventilated front seats, an excellent touchscreen infotainment system, leather upholstery, and a surround-view camera. It seats five in relative comfort but falls short in terms of some of its physical switchgear and knobs, where the parts-sharing between it and much less expensive Chrysler products is too obvious to ignore. Plenty of carbon fiber trim helps to make up for this, as does a wealth of interior storage, but some of the build quality leaves a little to be desired.
The Levante Trofeo seats five adults in decent comfort. While those in the second row may be a little cramped if the rear bench is full, headroom and legroom are good for even taller individuals. Up front, a pair of 12-way power-adjustable seats allow the tallest and shortest occupants alike to maintain a good view, and finding the right driving position is a cinch too. Getting in and out is also easy, thanks to large door openings and unexaggerated ride height. Seeing out the back is a little less simple, however, as the rear window is a little too small and the large C-pillar gets in the way. Nevertheless, it's not painfully bad, and manoeuvering the Trofeo is, therefore, a relatively carefree exercise.
The Levante Trofeo has access to a number of leather color schemes, all of which are offered at no cost, thanks to this model's range-topping denotation. Nero with Grigio stitching, Cuoio stitching, or Rosso stitching are the more subtle options, but less reserved choices like Rosso leather with Nero stitching, Cuoio with Amman stitching, or Rosso with Amman stitching are also available. For reference, Cuoio is a bronzed brown color, one that wouldn't look out of place as the complexion of a Jersey Shore star. Trim pieces come dressed in high gloss carbon fiber as standard, but other options are available too, including Gloss Dark Composite, High Gloss Ebano Wood, High Gloss Metal Net, 3D Carbon Fiber, or Open Pore Regimental Wood.
The Levante is more practical than your average Maserati, with a cargo area that stows 20.5 cubic feet worth of your luggage. While that may be enough for three large suitcases and some carry-on luggage, you'll need to be creative with your packaging. Dropping the rear seats expands available volume to 57.4 cubic feet, but both figures lag behind those of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which boasts figures of 26.3 and 59.3 cubic feet respectively.
In the cabin, there's a spot in the center console that's big enough for your keys, but not for your phone or wallet. Fortunately, there's another section alongside the gear-lever where two cupholders reside, and the center armrests offer additional space. As a plus, the bins in the center armrest are air-conditioned. The glovebox is also decent and rear occupants get a pair of cupholders too.
The Levante Trofeo is loaded with features, many of which are optional on lesser models. As standard, you get heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, adaptive LED headlights with auto high beams, a surround-view camera, dual-zone climate control, soft-close doors, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, heated mirrors, and a power liftgate. You also get remote start, launch control, front and rear parking sensors, a limited-slip differential, and hill descent control. Other safety features include lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, and traffic-sign recognition. Blind-spot monitoring is also included. A heated steering wheel is one of the few options, but it adds nothing to your bill.
The infotainment system is lifted straight from Chrysler's parts bin but has been renamed Touch Control Plus. This 8.4-inch touchscreen system works in conjunction with a 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system and features SiriusXM satellite radio, navigation, and traffic and weather updates via Travel Link. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth are included too, and the whole system works well and responds quickly. The system also features a USB port for connections, with an additional four USB ports for charging. While it's disappointing to see that the system is practically unchanged from the version that appears in blue-collar vehicles produced by Chrysler, we have to concede that the system is intuitive and attractive.
The 2019 Maserati Levante SUV has thus far been subject to a single recall. Issued in July of the same year, the recall pertained to the incorrect adjustment of LED headlights. No issues have since been presented.
In terms of warranty coverage, Maserati does not stand out. A four-year/50,000-mile warranty covers the powertrain and any faulty or defective parts or workmanship, but no complimentary scheduled maintenance or roadside assistance is offered. In this price bracket, that's unusual.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has evaluated the Levante in any form to determine its safety in a crash, but with a wealth of standard safety features that include adaptive headlights and adaptive cruise control, we expect that the Levante Trofeo would likely fare well.
The Levante Trofeo is packed with features that are sure to impress the safety-conscious. As standard, you get a surround-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive LED matrix headlights with auto high beams, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keep assist. Also included are adaptive cruise control with traffic-sign recognition, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and hill descent control. Frontal, side-impact, and head airbags also feature.
The Levante is, as the brand itself puts it, the Maserati of SUVs. While that isn't the best marketing we've ever read, we also can't help but wonder what Maserati thinks of itself. Sure, the Levante Trofeo is fast, has an intoxicating exhaust note, and looks better (from most angles) than a lot of the competition, but it's also terribly uncomfortable. For a luxury brand, even one with such a decorated racing heritage, you'd expect its lifestyle vehicle to be enjoyable to sit in. And then there's the obvious cost-saving and parts sharing. Is Maserati saying that a part of their mission is to skimp on quality? Overall, the Levante Trofeo is an impressive vehicle with incredible acceleration, a fantastic top speed, and a long list of standard features, but even so, the $50,000 premium it commands over the similar GTS is just ridiculous. For that money to be justifiable, the Levante would have to excel at everything, not just sound good and go fast. Why? Because cars that are meant to just go fast and sound good already exist. They're called sports cars, not SUVs.
The Levante Trofeo is a standalone model separate from the rest of the Levante range. This model starts at a base price of $169,980, before a $1,495 destination charge. Although the price is very high, it is fully loaded from the factory, with any options adding no cost to the end charge. However, it's worth noting that competitors like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo start at a much lower price, with the German retailing at a base price of $124,600.
The 2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo is a singular model at the top of the Levante lineup and stands alone, with no sub-trims within the model. The Levante Trofeo is powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 with 590 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic gearbox sends power to all four wheels, while an adaptive exhaust system provides aural pleasure. On the outside, a quad-exit exhaust, numerous carbon fiber trim pieces, and full LED lighting are featured. The headlights are adaptive LED matrix units and have automatic high beams. On the inside, a leather interior is balanced by more carbon fiber trim elements, with an 8.4-inch touchscreen serving infotainment purposes. Heated and ventilated front seats are fitted along with heated rear seats, and a 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system plays music from SiriusXM or your smartphone. Soft-close doors and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof are also included along with a power liftgate. Safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and traffic-sign recognition.
The Levante Trofeo has very few options, none of which add any extra cost to the end price. One that may complement the heated and ventilated front seats is a heated steering wheel. Other standalone options are mainly aesthetic and include piano black roof rails, a black window trim surround, and tinted tail lamps. The only other option available is a set of all-season tires, replacing the summer tires that the Trofeo comes with.
Since there's only one Levante Trofeo variant, and since the options are mainly aesthetic and offered at no-cost, the choices outlined below are simply a personal preference. We'd opt for a classy but aggression-enhancing Grigio paint. To avoid completely obliterating our spines with 22-inch wheels, we'd stick with one of the 21-inch options. On the inside, Rosso leather with Nero stitching and a black headliner would add a wow factor. We'd also opt for the heated steering wheel since it costs nothing.
Arguably the first of the dedicated sports car makers to try its hand at an SUV (besides Lamborghini with the ill-fated LM 002), Porsche divided the world's car enthusiasts with their Cayenne. Since then, their money-making model has become one of the best luxury SUVs on the market, and with the Cayenne Turbo, they have a brilliant sporty version too. Starting at $124,600, the Turbo is much more affordable than the Trofeo. However, at this level, price comes second to performance and features. With a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, the Cayenne makes less horsepower at 541 but produces more torque with 567 lb-ft. The interior is where the biggest difference lies though, as no cheap parts borrowed from other cars can be found in the Porsche. The Cayenne also has a larger cargo area and is more comfortable, and offers features like four-zone climate control, a hands-free tailgate, and privacy glass. Overall, the Porsche is a better vehicle and is much more premium, despite not bearing an Italian name.
If you really want to throw money at a vehicle, the Lamborghini Urus has a proper supercar badge and the obligatory $200,000 price tag that such a badge commands. Powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, the Urus produces a whopping 641 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque. This allows it to get from 0-60 in just 3.6 seconds, two tenths quicker than the Trofeo. With a top speed estimated at 190 mph, it's faster too. Its cargo space also bests that of the Levante Trofeo, with 21.8 cubes, although the Maserati has one cube more maximum space with the seats folded. Unfortunately, due to the coupe-style sloping roofline, the rear seats are less accommodating. That said, the Urus offers proper luxury features like massaging front seats, a head-up display, and standard features like four-zone climate control and a 12.3-inch digital information cluster. If budget and rear-seat comfort are not your concern, the Urus is a genuine supercar with lofty ride height and five seats, while the Levante Trofeo is merely a pretender in comparison.
Check out some informative Maserati Levante Trofeo video reviews below.