The Best New Maserati Is the $170k Levante Trofeo SUV
Although Maserati is a historied brand, the Italian automaker’s products haven’t always lived up to the hype. The Ghibli, in particular, has been heavily criticized for a low-quality interior and overall lack of reliability. And the car many consider the best Maserati, the GranTurismo, is over a decade old, and on its way out. But there may be another model that’s just as good: the Maserati Levante Trofeo SUV.
Maserati Levante Trofeo specs and features
When it first debuted in 2016, the Maserati Levante SUV was only available with a twin-turbocharged V6. Then came the Levante GTS, with a twin-turbocharged V8. But, as Motor Trend reports, for the 2019 model year, Maserati introduced the Levante Trofeo.
The Maserati Levante Trofeo uses the same 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged Ferrari-built V8 that’s in the GTS. Here, though, output’s been boosted from 550 hp to 590 hp, though torque remains at 538 lb-ft. Like the other Levante models, the Trofeo comes standard with all-wheel drive, multiple driving modes, and an 8-speed automatic.
However, the Trofeo’s transmission received some new programming, Car and Driver reports. In addition, on top of the standard driving modes (normal, off-road, sport, eco), the Trofeo adds a ‘Corsa’, or ‘race’ mode, which includes launch control. Corsa also stiffens the adaptive suspension and air springs, lowers the ride height, sends more power to the rear wheels, and further speeds-up gear changes. The result is a Maserati SUV that, with launch control, can do 0-60 in 3.8 seconds.
The Maserati Levante Trofeo also gets some exterior and interior upgrades over lower trims. The paddle shifters are made of carbon fiber, as is the engine cover, side skirts, front splitter, interior trim, and rear bumper trimmings. The hood is aluminum, with functional vents.
Inside is a 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system, and contrast-stitched leather heated and ventilated seats. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, a 360° camera, and LED headlights.
But what sets the Maserati Levante Trofeo ahead of its showroom brethren, as The Smoking Tire discovered, is underneath.
The Levante Trofeo is surprisingly sporty and thoughtful
The electronically-adjustable shocks are only one part of the Levante Trofeo’s suspension (spicy language in video below).
The Maserati SUV has a fully-independent suspension that apes more the Porsche Cayman than the Cayenne, as TST’s Matt Farah put it. Add in a 50:50 weight distribution, and a limited-slip differential, and the Maserati Levante Trofeo is set up for excellent handling. On the road, even over bumps, the SUV gripped well and rode comfortably, too, though the optional 22” wheels can spoil the ride somewhat.
It’s also quicker than its 0-60 time implies. Unlike some other turbocharged engines, the Levante’s V8 feels powerful at low and high RPMs. That gives it excellent passing power, which isn’t well-measured with a 0-60 time. It also helps that it’s about 1000 pounds lighter than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid, while only down about 80 hp. It makes similar power to the Cayenne Turbo S, MT reports, but it weighs only a bit more than the smaller Macan.
But the Levante Trofeo isn’t all about sheer speed. It’s also quiet and comfortable. One of the TST crew used to work for Maserati and remarked that the Levante can genuinely go off-road.
TST also reports the Maserati Levante Trofeo has an unusual attention to detail in some areas. The 2nd-row seats are hinged in such a way that you don’t need to remove the headrests to lay them flat. The button for the power tailgate is mounted low, so even shorter drivers can reach it without trouble. The lower rocker panel is sealed, so you don’t get your pants dirty if you accidentally brush against it. Maserati also gave the SUV a bright yellow under-hood release latch, to make it easier to spot.
Unfortunately, although the Maserati Levante Trofeo impresses dynamically, it does have some shortcomings.
Where the Maserati SUV falls flat
The biggest issue with the Maserati Levante Trofeo is the price. Not just that it costs $170,000—there are plenty of SUVs that cost that much and more. The problem is what that money buys you. Because, while the Levante Trofeo is fun to drive, it still suffers from unfortunate cost-cutting and parts-sharing.
That power-tailgate button? It comes from the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. MT reports even this $170,000 SUV still uses switchgear from cheaper FCA products elsewhere. And, although the leather seats are comfortable, TST reports they felt cheap to the touch.
With a 541 hp and a $126,500 starting price, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo isn’t quite as fast or as expensive. But, as MT and TST explain, everything the driver touched would feel just as if not more premium than in the Levante. And while the Range Rover SVR has less horsepower, and can’t handle quite as well, it too would feel more luxurious.
Even the best Maserati, then, still has some work to do.
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