2017 Maserati Levante First Look Review: Will The SUV Save Or Ruin Maserati?

First Look

Wait, where have we heard this before?

Back in 2002, Porsche stunned the world with the Cayenne SUV. In those days, people thought that building an SUV would ruin Porsche's reputation and probably bankrupt the company. Boy were those people wrong. More than one decade later, the Cayenne has easily become Porsche's lifeblood. Without the Cayenne, Porsche may not have survived. Now, 14 years after Porsche, Maserati is jumping into the SUV game. So, will this decision pay off for the Italian luxury brand? Or will the Levante kill Maserati's exclusive reputation?

Starting at $72,000, Maserati won't really have to worry about the Levante ruining the brand's prestigious reputation. The mundane Ghibli already has that covered. The Levante looks very good for an SUV, but Maserati may have played it a bit safe. The Levante isn't boring by any means, but upcoming SUVs like the Jaguar F-Pace may turn more heads at a lower price point. The Levante's looks are more evolutionary than revolutionary, and that might be a problem. Maserati is entering a crowded segment that already includes Land Rover, Porsche, Jaguar, and BMW as well as many others. With Bentley and Lamborghini also making SUVs, Maserati really needs a lot to stand out. We just don't see it.

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The base Levante comes with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 345 hp. That's not bad, but the Jaguar F-Pace will have similar horsepower for a much lower price. You can get a more powerful V6 with 424 horsepower, but that doesn't come close to cars like the BMW X5M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Hopefully Maserati will release a V8 version with over 500 hp. Without that, it just doesn't make sense for anyone to choose the Levante over less expensive rivals. Maserati cars have always transcended their price tags. The Gran Turismo, for example, was never as fast as a 911, but it came with Italian flare and an exhaust note that will make your gentleman bits go all fuzzy! New Maserati cars just don't have the passion.

The Ghibli sounds better than most cars, but you just don't get that bottom-tingling passion that you used to. That is the problem with the new Levante. It may cost over $70,000, but we just don't think that it is special enough to justify that price. The head unit is from a Chrysler, and the interior looks mostly the same as one too. We would love to be proved wrong here, but for now we just can't be that excited about the Levante.