If you are seeking a mid-size, sexy SUV that is luxuriously comfortable and exceptionally classy, the 2019 Maserati Levante S GranSport is your SUV.
The base MSRP window sticker of the model I drove for a week was $91,980. However the extras, including the Natural Interior Leather Upholstery, Driver Assistance Package, Bowers & Wilkins Sound System and Climate Package brought the retail price to $104,835.
The Levante is aptly named after an easterly wind that flows in the western Mediterranean Sea and southern France. The difference is that while driving a Levante stateside you will leave everyone else in the wind. Behind you. Its V-6 twin turbo, 3.0-liter engine with 424 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque makes the Levante one very vivacious vehicle.
The stated maximum speed of the Levante is 164 mph. Pity then I had to test-drive it in the beach communities of Southern California and its notoriously clogged highways. But on an empty 50-mile stretch outside the city, the Levante cruised like a delightful dream at 65-70 mph. With silky smooth suspension, I could have been sipping boiling hot tea (pinky raised of course) and not spilled a single drop.
Like a beautifully bold woman, the Levante is a sensuously sleek head turner. The interior is also elegant, sophisticated and user friendly. Just as with other Maserati models, the USB port is conveniently located on the lower front of the dash, instead of as is often the case, buried in the console or elsewhere. The good-sized touchscreen and infotainment system is intuitively easy to operate. If my flat screen televisions and remote controls at home were instead designed by Maserati engineers and equally as easy to operate (a girl can dream), life would then be picture perfect.
The split camera is one of my favorite features providing side, rear and overhead surround visuals. Like with other Maserati models, the Levante is truly time-sensitive. There are four clocks in this SUV: a digital read out on the navigation screen, another above the gas gauge, a third next to the rpm gauge and finally, a perfectly situated analog clock located in the center of the dash. So if you are late anywhere, anytime, you can never, ever, ever blame your Levante.
For the past 20 years, my daily drive has been a long menu of SUVs for two reasons. First, I am vertically challenged and prefer the increased visibility from elevated seating, especially in traffic. Second, with progeny that possess a whole host of interests, sports and extra-curricular activities, Olympic caliber, severe schlepping has been one of the main chapters in the story of my life.
At 19.4 cubic feet, the cargo section of the Levante is about one-third less than other mid-size, luxury SUVs, but still quite roomy. And although size always matters in the city of Schleppersville, this is a very small drawback to pay for driving an SUV this beautiful and this powerful.
Safety is always a key component in considering an SUV. Here as well, the Maserati engineers have gone the distance and the Levante comes equipped with six airbags. There are two front, dual-stage airbags and two front, side airbags located in the seats providing torso and hip protection. Additionally, two side curtain airbags in the roof lining cushion the heads of all passengers.
In the event of a rear impact, the front seats are equipped with anti-whiplash safety equipment to reduce neck trauma. The reactive headrests automatically move in closer to reduce the distance between their surface and each passenger’s head. The front, three-point seat belts are equipped with pyrotechnic pre-tensioners and load limiters, thus restraining passengers securely to aid against injury in the event of impact.
The only negative I experienced driving the Levante was that the rear seats were pretty difficult to put into their down position. They also did not lie completely flat.
Though the EPA mileage for the Levante is reflected at 15-mpg city and 21-mpg highway, although I did get a bit better than 21-mpg on the highway. And I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute I was behind the wheel of this powerful beauty.
The 48-month/50,000 new car limited warranty coverage is standard, but does not offer unlimited-mileage roadside assistance or complimentary roadside assistance.
In the luxury SUV market, the Maserati Levant S GranSport certainly exceeds the comfort and handling of competitors in this price range such as the Lexus LX 570 or the BMW X6. And its interior chic elegance will satisfy, and in all likelihood, far exceed even the most discerning buyers.
Simply put, driving a Maserati Levante S GranSport is without a doubt, pure pleasure.
Thumbs up: Incredibly comfortable seating, smart dash details, bold, high-powered, smooth ride with room for everything.
Thumbs down: Rear seats hard to put down.
Julie L. Kessler is MoneyInc’s Travel & Luxury Editor and writes travel stories for various major media outlets. She is also an attorney and legal columnist based in Los Angeles and the author of the award-winning book “Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at Julie@VagabondLawyer.com