Though it had only been a couple of years since Maserati unveiled their first ever SUV, a lot had happened with it. It had very quickly become the bestseller for the Modena factory (maybe not so surprising, as this is what happened for Porsche, as well) and, by the previous year, they had diversified the SUV into multiple variations.
While the array of luxury SUVs was wide and varied, with all the major luxury and performance brands producing their own. The three major German carmakers (Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi) would make multiple selections to match all needs and budgets. But the 2019 Maserati Levante would stand apart from the crowd due to its uniqueness in style and driving performance.
The 2019 Maserati Levante configurations were numerous with two different engine sizes which had four different outputs and there were six different trims. This included the Base and the S model which were both available as a GranLusso or GranSport. Higher up the price range, prospective buyers had the option of the GTS and Trofeo models.
This made the 2019 Maserati Levante MSRP just as varied. While the Base model had a price tag of $77,475, the S model jumped to $88,475, though both of these prices were not inclusive of any trim upgrades. For the next models the price rises steeply, with the GTS selling for $121,475 and the, top of the range, Trofeo hitting your pocket for $171,475.
With the engines being offered as a V6 or V8, the 2019 Maserati Levante horsepower was equally diverse. The Base and S models were both fitted with the 3.0 liter V6 Ferrari engine but with different outputs. The Base model made 345 bhp at 5,750 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque from 1,750 rpm. The 2019 Maserati Levante S produced 424 bhp at 5,750 rpm and creating 428 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 rpm.
Acceleration and speed for both were decent for a SUV but by no means exceptional for its class. The Base would make the 0-60 mph dash in 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 156 mph while the S made the sprint in 5.2 seconds and hitting a top speed of 164 mph.
The other two models were blessed with a reconfigured 3.8 liter V8 Ferrari engine. For the 2019 Maserati Levante GTS the output grew to 550 bhp at 6,250 rpm and making 538 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. This gave the GTS a time of 4.2 seconds to go from 0-60 mph and hitting a top speed of 181 mph. If this was not enough for the SUV-driving speed merchants then they could opt for the 2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo which produced a massive 590 bhp at 6,250 rpm and 538 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. Acceleration and speed figures were just as daunting with 0-60 mph achieved in a jolting 3.9 seconds and a blistering top speed of 189 mph.
But with either engine setup, the owner was always assured of the sonorous growl of the Ferrari emanating from under the hood or out of the quad tailpipes. Fuel economy was not great with only 14 mpg and 19 mpg for city and highway driving respectively.
One thing that is standard between all models of the 2019 Maserati Levante is the eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF. A tried and trusted gearbox provides several driving modes which include: Normal, Sport, Manual & ICE. To enjoy the thrill of driving this Italian performance automobile, the gearbox needs to set to ‘Sport’ mode. This sets the SUV up to some dramatic handling, as the adaptive suspension is lowered and firmed up while the throttle becomes attentive and the shift changes are quickened. and pushed nearer the redline with higher rev counts.
If this is not enough for the driver, then the ‘Manual’ mode will allow the gearbox to be under the full control of the driver. They can perform shift changes from the redesigned gear stick or from the shift paddles situated on the steering column.
But, when cruising the streets of the city, and requiring to keep a lid on the explosive force of the Ferrari engine, the transmission can be left in ‘Normal’ mode. This makes the SUV smooth and compliant around town. But this is augmented by using the ICE (Increased Control & Efficiency) mode which minimizes the power of the engine to improve the overall fuel economy.
The adaptive ‘Skyhook’ suspension fitted into the Maserati Levante 2019, was a busy piece of hardware. It could be setup in five different levels which catered for everyday comfort and stowing storage, a sporty and edgier profile as well as rough and ready off-road trekking (rising to almost 10 inches above ground clearance).
Despite the multiple settings, whether attacking corners at full speed, bouncing over rough terrain or speeding down uneven roads, the adaptive suspension always provides the best possible ride to its occupants.
Sports Car Handling
What was assured in every model of the 2019 Maserati Levante was the quality of the precision handling on the road. Despite being built as a SUV, it shows its lineage from its Modena roots. The highly responsive steering and handling made it seem like a car half its size. The large SUV flies through straightaways at high speed with perfect poise and can attack tight and twisting roads instinctively without any over or understeer.
Even for the less experienced driver, they can push the Maserati into turns with a lot of confidence. This is assisted by the perfect balance of the vehicle, with its 50/50 weight distribution ratio, as well as several driving aids that have been installed (stability, traction control and anti-lock brakes).
The variety and choices on offer, that augment the SUV, are boundless. From the standard fittings up to the upgraded trims of GranLusso & GranSport, there is a plethora of luxurious and technological fit outs. This far exceeds the other counterparts in this field.
On the Base model there is driver adjustable & air suspension, hill descent control & limited slip differential, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED fog & taillights with LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming side & rearview mirrors, power liftgate, 19 inch alloy wheels and chrome exterior trim.
On the inside there is the usual Poltrona Frau leather with hand stitching, piano-black plastic surface accents, 12-way power adjustable front seats with memory (driver only) and heating, dual-zone climate control, four 12-volt outlets (two front, one rear, one cargo), four USB outlets (two front, two rear), and 60/40-split folding rear seats. The standard audio setup includes eight speakers with a 280 watt stereo.
The 2019 Maserati Levante GranLusso, apart from all of the above, also provides: a panoramic sunroof, metallic-finished roof rails, bright silver skid plates, a body color rear spoiler, and black brake calipers. The interior receives open-pore wood trim, premium leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and a heated and wood-lined steering wheel. The stereo is upgraded to 900 watts and 14 speakers.
While the 2019 Maserati Levante GranSport offers additionally: a body-color sport rear spoiler, similar sunroof and the stereo upgrade. Cosmetic changes include piano-black exterior trim, 20-inch wheels, and red brake calipers. To add to the racier image, this package also adds shift paddles, 12-way power-adjustable seats with larger bolsters, and a sport steering wheel and pedals.
But trims do not end there, as the 2019 Maserati Levante S GranLusso provides all the Base accoutrements as well as adding soft-close doors. This logic flows into the GTS & Trofeo models as the former focuses on the luxury while the latter goes for the sporty looks that includes replacing the black-piano plastic with carbon fiber trim inside and out. This top of the range SUV also comes with 22 inch alloy wheels as well as unique colors for the leather and body paintwork.
Color palette for the alluring bodywork and brake calipers has been increased along with more variations for the leather interior.
A source of irritation for many reviews was the fact that a lot of the switchgear has been taken from other FCA automobiles (Grand Cherokee the main one) which detracts for the high aspect luxury for the rest of the cabin. But this is not an uncommon practice, as Bentley use switchgear from Volkswagen and Rolls-Royce share the same infotainment with the Series 1 BMW. Think it is time people got over this.
Power to Connect
The Uconnect Infotainment system is installed in all models (though with different audio system setups) which is accessed from an 8.4 inch touchscreen (or via the control knob situated on the central panel). From here all interior systems can be utilized including the dual front climate control, sat nav, satellite radio and connectivity via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and voice activation. There are several USB ports front and back for other media connections.
The hardware is very user friendly and one of the best systems found in cars today (although originally found in Jeep Cherokees).
This might not be the highest performing or fully loaded luxury SUV on the market (most of the standard driver safety aids on other vehicles are only optional with the Levante) but it is by far the most distinguishable from the rest of the herd. It is a wind of change.