2018 Maserati Levante

2018 Maserati Levante Review

With a distinctly different character, the Maserati Levante stands out from the crowd.
7.6 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Carlos Lago
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Introduced last year, the Levante brings the Maserati character to the world of large luxury SUVs. Its distinctive design helps it stand out in parking lots and on the road, and its engine plays the soundtrack of a thoroughbred, which is appropriate considering some of its roots come from Ferrari.

The Levante's extensive customization options include everything from the color of the brake calipers to the leathers and materials inside. With a large entertainment display, the interior looks the part, too. That is, unless you recognize some of the buttons and switches borrowed from less expensive vehicles.

Aside from some downmarket switchgear, the Levante lacks the interior and cargo space of its mainstream rivals. And as cool as the Ferrari link may sound, it means the Levante's fuel economy trails the segment. But these aren't the reasons you look for an SUV with a borderline exotic pedigree. In this regard, the Levante's flair and exclusivity separate it from the crowd.



What's new for 2018

After its introduction last year, the Levante gains a few updates for 2018. New standard features include blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, and remote engine start, while electric power steering replaces the hydraulic setup from last year. Two option groups called GranLusso and GranSport, representing luxury and sport orientations, are available. The Driver Assistance package now includes automatic and selective braking assistance to prevent dangerous lane changes.

We recommend

With this type of luxury vehicle, it's all about excess. And the powerful Levante S delivers just that with little sacrifice to fuel economy. Keep in mind that aside from a few items such as bigger front brakes and a panoramic sunroof, the Levante S is equipped nearly the same as the base model, so you'll want to choose either the GranLusso or the GranSport option group. We think the luxury-oriented GranLusso is a better bet for its upgraded stereo, soft-close doors, premium leather, and ventilated seats.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Maserati Levante comes in two variants that are defined by how much power they have. Though both trim levels use a twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6, the one in the base Levante has 345 horsepower, while the Levante S offers 424 hp. Regardless of output, each model comes with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, which Maserati calls Q4. After deciding on power, you can elect between either the GranLusso or GranSport option group. Both packages cost the same, but the GranLusso adds luxury features, such as premium leather, and the GranSport adds sporty features, such as shift paddles.

The base Levante comes with a twin-turbo 3.0L V6 (345 hp, 369 lb-ft of torque), engine stop-start, an eight-speed automatic, and all-wheel drive. Other mechanical standard items include a driver-adjustable and adaptive air suspension, a limited-slip differential, and hill descent control. The exterior shows automatic bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED fog- and taillights, auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors, chrome exterior trim, and a power liftgate. Inside, you'll find piano-black plastic interior trim, leather upholstery, 12-way adjustable power front seats with memory and heating, dual-zone climate control, three 12-volt outlets (one per row), four USB outlets (two front, two rear), and 60/40-split folding rear seats. The 8.4-inch entertainment display offers navigation, satellite radio with a one-year subscription, and support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The standard 280-watt stereo plays through eight speakers. Safety features include a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, and front and rear parking sensors.

Opting for the GranLusso package adds a panoramic sunroof, metallic-finished roof rails, bright chrome skid plates, additional body coloring to the exterior, different 19-inch wheels, 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.

The GranSport also gains a panoramic sunroof, additional body-colored exterior panels, and the stereo upgrade. Cosmetic upgrades include piano-black exterior trim, 20-inch wheels, red brake calipers, and extended leather options. True to its name, this package also adds shift paddles, 12-way power-adjustable seats with larger bolsters, and a sport steering wheel and pedals.

The Levante S comes with a more powerful version of the twin-turbo 3.0L V6 (424 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque), though it retains the eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Above the base model the S also gains larger front brakes, shift paddles, a panoramic sunroof, and extended leather options. The GranLusso package adds soft-close doors, while the GranSport package retains the same features described above.

Most features in the GranLusso and GranSport can be optioned à la carte for either Levante. The last two packages to choose from are the Climate package, which adds heated rear seats and windshield washer nozzles, and the Driver Assistance Plus package, which includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go, forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, and a surround-view camera system. This package also offers active lane keeping and blind-spot assist, which can selectively apply the brakes to prevent unsafe lane changes.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Maserati Levante S (twin-turbo 3.0L V6 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Levante has received some revisions, including the addition of electric power steering and more standard safety features. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Levante.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.6 / 10

Driving

7.5 / 10

Acceleration8.0 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling7.0 / 10
Drivability6.5 / 10

Comfort

7.0 / 10

Seat comfort6.5 / 10
Ride comfort6.0 / 10
Noise & vibration8.0 / 10
Climate control8.0 / 10

Interior

7.5 / 10

Ease of use6.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out8.5 / 10
Driving position9.0 / 10
Roominess8.0 / 10
Visibility7.0 / 10
Quality6.0 / 10

Utility

7.5 / 10

Small-item storage9.0 / 10
Cargo space6.5 / 10

Technology

9.0 / 10

Audio & navigation8.5 / 10
Smartphone integration9.0 / 10
Driver aids8.0 / 10
Voice control10.0 / 10

Driving7.5

The Levante S puts a definitive emphasis on "Sport," landing somewhere between pure luxury SUV models and the fire-breathing beasts that roll out of the BMW M and Mercedes-AMG factories. Its engine is its greatest asset, but it scores pretty well in all other dynamic areas.

Acceleration8.0

The twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 makes healthy power and a beautiful sound, but it lacks a little response when driven in Normal mode due to turbo lag. Sport mode alleviates this somewhat because it keeps the transmission in a lower gear. The sprint to 60 mph is properly quick at 5 seconds flat.

Braking7.0

The brakes are easy to modulate with the right amount of bite during casual driving, but we encountered some disconcerting wobbles during our panic stops when the suspension wasn't in Sport mode. This issue didn't occur in Sport mode; the car even posted an impressive 106-foot stop from 60 mph.

Steering7.0

We found the steering feedback from last year's Levante direct and precise, with assistance that varied with speed. The new Levante has electric power-assisted steering, which might alter the feel through the steering wheel.

Handling7.0

The Levante is quite fun on tight, twisty roads with its grippy tires, low body roll and torque-vectoring electronics, allowing it to make unnaturally sharp turns. But it wiggles and dances a bit through sweeping curves that are aren't perfectly smooth, which diminishes driving confidence.

Drivability6.5

The eight-speed automatic is a good match to the V6, and it executes shifts that are quick and nearly seamless. The shift-by-wire gear selector can be a nuisance when trying to quickly move between Drive and Reverse, which makes those speedy three-point turns much more of a challenge.

Off-road7.0

Our test vehicle's 21-inch wheels and summer tires aren't ideally suited for mud and snow, but the Levante's adjustable air suspension allows for 1.6 inches of extra ground clearance when in Off-Road mode, which could prove useful if you do need to venture beyond the pavement.

Comfort7.0

The Levante's cabin masterfully manages to keep bad noise out while letting good noise in, but we weren't entirely impressed by its ride quality. The climate control system keeps air temps in check, but the leather seats can get a little swampy without the perforated/ventilation option.

Seat comfort6.5

The front seat cushions are firm yet comfortable, but they got a little warm without the optional perforated leather. Lateral support at the thighs and back is wide-set, so smaller to average folk won't find it very supportive. Rear seat comfort is similar, with sufficient rake in the seatback.

Ride comfort6.0

The Levante's ride is busy even in the softest suspension setting, and it's bothered more by small, sharp bumps than it is big ones. The optional 21-inch wheels likely play a part. The suspension keeps body roll in check during cornering, but results in more head toss when on uneven pavement.

Noise & vibration8.0

The cabin is very well-insulated against wind and decently insulated against road noise. Yet Sport mode still allows the exhaust sound in, and that's a good thing because it's lovely. Otherwise the cabin is pretty quiet while in Normal mode, with no squeaks or rattles observed.

Climate control8.0

Dual climate controls can be accessed through the touchscreen or adjusted incrementally via buttons and switches just below it. Additionally, you can set the cabin temp through the voice command system, which is clever, and the climate system does well to maintain your chosen settings.

Interior7.5

Getting in and out of the Levante is a breeze. Once inside, there's a comfortable amount of space in nearly every seat. The driver's seat can be positioned for maximum road visibility or for a low, sporty feel. The substantial paddle shifters almost make up for the chintzy steering wheel controls.

Ease of use6.0

The large touchscreen infotainment layout is fairly easy to navigate, but it collects fingerprints that show up readily in the sun, and configuring the system isn't very intuitive. The steering-wheel rocker switch controls require unusually heavy pressure, which is uncomfortable and cumbersome.

Getting in/getting out8.5

Climbing in is very easy, like getting into a slightly taller sedan. The adjustable air suspension can lower the body nearly 2 inches, so there's really no climbing required. The large doors open wide, and the generous entry helps avoid head contact with the door frames even in the rear.

Driving position9.0

Its wide range of seat height adjustment means you can choose a commanding road view or tuck down below the window sills for more of a sport sedan feel. The steering wheel has a decent amount of rake and tilt adjustment, and it's always easy to find the huge column-mounted paddle shifters.

Roominess8.0

Even with the cockpit-style cabin up front, there's a lot of space for both front seats. Head- and legroom are plentiful with ample width for hips and shoulders. In the rear there's decent headroom and enough width for three adults to squeeze. Anyone over 6 feet won't be thrilled in the middle seat.

Visibility7.0

Visibility is decent overall. The front view is unobstructed and the rear headrests are short so they don't really impede the view rearward. The rear window is smaller than those in most other SUVs. The rear pillars are pretty chunky, but the optional surround-view cameras alleviate this issue.

Quality6.0

The Levante's interior appears nicely put-together, but the materials don't inspire feelings of luxury-level quality, especially in this class. Items such as the gear selector and steering wheel button controls fall below class standards and are somewhat of a disservice to the Maserati brand.

Utility7.5

On a universal stage, the Levante has lots of merit for utility. But when compared to others in its class, it comes up a little short in cargo volume and doesn't make any special accommodations for car seats.

Small-item storage9.0

There's a vast array of storage areas. A bin forward of the gearshift has USB and auxiliary inputs and is large enough for a couple of phones and a wallet. There are 12V outlets and a deep armrest bin that keeps drinks cool or warm via an air vent and can accommodate large water bottles.

Cargo space6.5

With 19.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, the Levante's cargo area is smaller in volume than most of the competition. Still, the cargo area manages to be very usable. The rear seats fold flat and there's a ski pass-through if you don't want to fold the seats down.

Child safety seat accommodation6.5

The LATCH anchors have no easy-access ports and are squeezed between the seat bottom and back cushions. But loading a car seat in back won't be too hard thanks to the large door openings.

Technology9.0

The Levante impressed us with its technology, from its useful onboard navigation to the depth of its voice recognition system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and they are the best solutions to smartphone integration. Active driver aids come in a package, and we'd recommend getting it.

Audio & navigation8.5

The navigation system may not be as cutting-edge as Audi's Google Maps, but it is nice and easy to operate and has live traffic and speed limit info. The optional Harman Kardon audio system doesn't have fancy speaker grilles like some competitors, but it fills the cabin with a rich, quality sound.

Smartphone integration9.0

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard with the 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which takes the guesswork out of device integration. And there's convenient phone storage that reduces the temptation to handle your phone while driving.

Driver aids8.0

The driver assistance package is more robust this year, featuring forward collision and lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, and a surround-view camera system. Active blind-spot and lane keeping assist systems selectively use the brakes to prevent unsafe maneuvers.

Voice control10.0

The Levante has one of the better voice recognition systems we've used. You can search points of interest, tune into specific radio and satellite stations, and even set the climate control temperature. You also have access to smartphone functions through Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.