$48,360 - $59,266

2018 Maserati Levante Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Maserati Levante was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 9.1

The 2018 Maserati Levante looks big, but that doesn't hold it back when it comes to performance. The base and available engines stand ready to rocket you forward at the touch of the gas pedal, and the Levante's buttoned-down handling will have you eager to tackle winding roads. Despite the SUV's agility, the ride stays smooth even when the road is not. Fuel economy is a sore spot, however. Most competitors are more fuel-efficient.

  • "The crossover pairs straight-line speed with excellent handling and a ride that's comfortable and well-controlled." -- Motor Trend
  • "If the Levante's styling is poised to split opinions, this SUV's performance is likely to unite them." -- CNET (2017)
  • "Short of a strangely shaking hood, it felt fully connected to the ground, composed at sustained high speeds, and plenty powerful. And although it doesn't quite have the brute force of an X5 M, the Levante should prove every bit the match of its stated bogies, the X5 and Porsche Cayenne, short of the highest-spec models." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Levante features a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that puts out 345 horsepower. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that rarely has to hunt for the right gear. This engine delivers punchy acceleration and ample power for most driving situations, but there's another option for the lead-footed driver.

The Levante S features the same engine as the base Levante, but it makes 424 horsepower in the S. With this engine, time spent sitting at a stoplight feels like a countdown to blast off; you'll be thrown back in your seat when you put the hammer down. According to Maserati, the Levante S has a zero to 60 mph time of 5 seconds flat (the base model makes the dash in a not-too-shabby 5.8 seconds). In addition to the power, both engines have a satisfying growl.

According to EPA estimates, the base Levante gets 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. The Levante S gets nearly identical ratings. Both are among the worst ratings for any luxury midsize SUV.

  • "Meanwhile, the throttle response in the gas V-6 has been greatly improved over the all-or-nothing Ghibli's. The engineers contrived the Levante's throttle-pedal stroke to produce vigorous initial response, the eight-speed ZF automatic quickly downshifting to pitch the revs up into a fatter torque range. The Levante S we drove was never caught flat-footed, and it surged with a thrilling lupine bark from its quad pipes as soon as we poked it." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "The Levante's sportier side surfaces once the engine is fired with its racy exhaust note. Just find an open road and sink the accelerator. The 424-hp S version rockets forward with enthusiasm, the swift, smooth upshifts of the transmission adding to the sense of momentum along with the throaty soundtrack. The 345-hp version is tamer but not dramatically slower." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The transmission, a ZF eight-speed automatic, is very well calibrated in this application, something that can't always be said for it in other Fiat Chrysler models. It anticipates your next move well and avoids the usual flummoxing when the driver gets in and out of the throttle abruptly. The transmission also doesn't call attention to those final few gear changes that get it up into eighth on the highway." -- Autoblog (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Levante features standard all-wheel drive and drives more like a sports car than an SUV. It comes with an adaptive air suspension, and you can choose from four modes to adjust driving dynamics: Normal, Sport, Off-Road, and I.C.E., which stands for Increased Control and Efficiency.

The ride is smooth, and Sport mode really unlocks the Levante's abilities. There's little body lean when taking turns. The steering is sharp (though heavy) and provides great feedback from the road. This is one of the most athletic SUVs in any class, and it's a blast to drive.

  • "Handling also belies the size of this beast. The 2017 Maserati Levante feels planted and instills confidence in corners, whether on the road or on a track. It hugs the road with very little body lean. The sharp steering communicates actual feedback that's rare these days, making the Levante gobble corners quite enjoyably. But this SUV/coupe casts a large shadow, so in tight quarters and parking situations, given the broad stern and so-so rear visibility, you might need to have the skills of a Venetian gondolier." -- Consumer Reports
  • "Levante's steering effort falls toward the heavy side, certainly for this class, maybe another defining trait. An extra-thick steering wheel rim does not feel inappropriate in this SUV. It can make for some work through twisties, but the hydraulic steering tracks the uneven flow of pavement in a fashion the best electric systems still can't. It puts this honking SUV exactly where you want it to go, every time, imparting confidence most SUVs do not." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "You can drive it around turns with the confidence of something far smaller. The result is a genuinely sporty drive for what is ultimately a tall and bulky luxury crossover." -- Edmunds (2017)

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