Maserati officially entered the highly competitive luxury SUV market in North America yesterday with the debut of the Levante. The mid-size SUV, which was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, will be crucial to Maserati’s success in coming years as it looks to gain a larger share of the global luxury car market.
We familiarized ourselves with the SUV on the floor of the New York International Auto Show and from what we saw, things look promising. The fit and finish of the interior seems to be improved over the Ghibli mid-size sedan on which the Levante is based. Everything feels tightly fastened together and the leather feels as high quality as can be.
One of our few complaints with the cabin lies with the long travel distance and clunky actuation of the paddle shifters. Also, taller people may have to watch their head when entering the back seats due to the car’s sloping roofline and the extremely thick B-pillar makes for a rather large blind spot.
Fans of other Maseratis will likely enjoy the styling of the Levante. It’s instantly recognizable as a Maserati, using typical company design cues, such as its triple-punched fender vents, an aggressive grille design and C-pillar emblems. You could pop the Trident badges off the Levante and still recognize it as a Maserati, so we’re calling this one a style winner.
In North America, the Levante will be sold in two specifications: the entry-level model with a 345 horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6, and the Levante S, with a 427 horsepower version of the same engine. These should appease North American customers and we seriously doubt there will be much clamoring for the diesel version Europe gets.
Maserati will also introduce a Levante Hybrid, likely in late 2017 or early 2018. We would like to see it a littler earlier than that so as to give Levante buyers a bit more choice and to properly take the fight to vehicles like the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, but we’re sure Maserati is trying to bring the vehicle to market as quickly as possible.
The Maserati Levante appears to be a competitive entry into the luxury mid-size SUV segment and because SUVs are currently a hot ticket item, it should find buyers pretty easily compared to the Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans. Its $72,000 entry-level price is also competitive, but pricier than the base price for the Cayenne, which starts at $58,300.