• Two twin-turbo V6s available (345 hp and 424 hp)
  • Two twin-turbo V8s available (550 hp and 590 hp)
  • V8-powered GTS and Trofeo arrive this fall
  • Level II Driver Assistance Package available
  • Eight models for 2019
  • Standard air suspension with Skyhook
  • Priced from $77,475 to $171,475

 

Ever since the Maserati Levante made its debut in 2016 as a 2017 model, this large Ghibli-based SUV has lacked one thing: a V8 engine. This fall, though, when the 2019 Levante arrives, Maserati’s SUV will be available with a choice of V8s, both twin-turbo 3.8-liter units hand-assembled by Ferrari. The V8 in the 2019 Maserati Levante GTS produces a stout 550 horsepower. The other V8, standard in the Trofeo model revealed at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, packs a whopping 590-horsepower punch, making it the most powerful Maserati engine currently available.

Track Testing the GTS

At a recent press preview near Detroit, KBB had opportunity to hot-lap a 2019 Maserati Levante GTS on a wet but drying road course. While the thought of probing the limits of a 4,800-pound SUV powered by a 550-horsepower V8 on a damp track seemed daunting at first, our fears were quickly allayed. This 5-seat Italian SUV worked remarkably well on the curvy M1 Concourse track, disguising its large size, showing great overall balance and exhibiting a surprising level of grip. Also very noticeable: As I’d dip into the throttle coming out of various corners, the back end of the Levante would squat as the rear wheels gripped and shot the GTS forward, shortening the time between corners.

No surprise, the Q4 all-wheel-drive system of the Levante GTS – which has a transfer case with quiet but stout helical gears – sends all power back to a limited-slip rear differential with torque vectoring. But if any wheel slip is detected in back, as much as 50 percent of this Maserati’s power can be sent to the front wheels. As such, this Q4 system gives the 2019 Maserati Levante GTS an entertaining rear-wheel-drive feel, but with the underlying stability and security that AWD provides. 

Skyhook adaptive suspension damping also plays a big role. Via five sensors (three on the body, one on each front hub), the damping of the Levante’s air suspension automatically adjusts for the situation at hand. Damping can change from full soft to full firm in a matter of microseconds, endowing the Levante with much better composure than you’d ever expect from such a large vehicle.

Of note, the 590-horsepower engine in the 2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo is basically the same twin-turbo V8 as found in the new Levante GTS, but with more aggressive camshafts, turbos and fuel injectors together with revised engine-management programming.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2019

The 2019 Maserati Levante lineup

While we didn’t sample all eight versions of the Maserati Levante, here’s a look at the 2019 lineup:

Levante

The base Maserati Levante ($77,475; all prices include a $1,495 destination charge) is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 producing 345 horsepower at 5,750 rpm. It propels Maserati’s large SUV to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, and to a top speed of 156 mph. Although it’s officially a base model, this entry Levante boasts leather upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels, air suspension, a limited-slip differential, Skyhook damping and options such as active LED headlights and column-mounted paddle shifters made of aluminum.   

Levante GranLusso

The GranLusso ($83,475) ups the Levante luxury quotient with a panoramic sunroof, chrome trim on the trunk sill and front fascia, plus an Ermenegildo Zegna Silk and leather interior featuring open-pore wood trim, stainless steel door sills and a 900-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system with 14 speakers. The front fascia is new, and among the notable options on the 2019 GranLusso are seven different wheel designs, four brake calipers, power sunshades, an Alcantara headliner and an ultra-premium Bowers & Wilkins audio system. 

Levante GranSport

The GranSport ($83,475), which has unique front and rear fascias and side skirts, is equipped with 20-inch polished Nereo wheels, red brake calipers, 12-way power sport seats, aluminum shift paddles and the Harman Kardon audio system. Five different wheels are among the options, as are carbon-fiber shift paddles, stainless steel door sills and three colors of brake calipers. Maserati, for the record, likes to point out that the GranSport and GranLusso cost $6,000 more than the standard Levante but have anywhere from $8,000-$11,000 worth of extra content included in their base price.

Levante S

If you’re looking for a more powerful twin-turbo V6, one with 424 horsepower, order the Levante S, which hits 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and has a top speed of 164 mph. The S ($88,475), with staggered wheels and tires (265/50R19 front, 295/45R19 rear), is upgraded with better leather upholstery, aluminum shift paddles, a panoramic sunroof and gloss-black brake calipers.

Levante GranLusso S/GranSport S

When the GranLusso or Gran Sport are fitted with the 424-horsepower 60-degree twin-turbo V6, they become S models. Both are priced from $93,475.

Levante Trofeo

With 590 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque from its Ferrari-built twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8, the new 2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo hits 60 mph in a scant 3.7 seconds and blasts to a top speed of 189 mph. Without question, this makes the Trofeo the flagship Levante, with the lofty price of $171,475 underscoring this point.  

Key hardware -- besides the potent V8 and ZF 8-speed automatic transmission -- includes a high-performance version of Skyhook damping, 22-inch machine-polished wheels and a sport exterior complemented by gloss-blue brake calipers with white Maserati script. Inside, you’ll find Maserati’s finest natural leather and sport seats, plus a dual-pane panoramic sunroof and a powerful Bowers & Wilkins audio system. Maserati Touch Control (with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) is standard, as are carbon-fiber shift paddles, a surround view camera and parking sensors.

Available Packages

Three option packages are available for the 2019 Maserati Levante. Most significant is the Driver Assistance Package, which brings Level II autonomy to the Levante for only $1,590. In addition to adaptive cruise control with stop and go, blind-spot assist and traffic sign recognition, this driver-assistance package includes highway assist and a surround-view camera with pedestrian recognition. Note: Although pedestrian recognition isn't available until November, the Trident company says it can be flashed onto earlier 2019 Levante models. 

If you’re looking for a blacked-out Levante, order the Nerissimo Package ($770-$990), available on the base and GranSport models. With grille, side mirrors, roof rails, skidplates and body molding all given the black treatment, the Nerissimo Levante has a sinister look complemented by darkened exhaust tips and taillamps.

Lastly, if you live in an area with cold weather, consider the $290 Climate Package. Its heated outboard seats, steering wheel and washer nozzles make a lot of sense.

More: 2019 Car Reviews: First takes on new models

Final Thoughts

Without question, the 2019 Levante succeeds as a Maserati SUV, a practical and sporty vehicle that benefits from laudable 50/50 weight distribution. While the Levante looks a bit generic from the rear, that shouldn’t detract from what is an otherwise impressive big SUV that handles better than expected and has received a welcome infusion of power for 2019. The 550-horsepower Levante GTS and 590-horsepower Levante Trofeo are big and bold new players in the world of V8-powered European SUVs, and we’ll enjoy seeing them take the fight to competitors such as the BMW X5 M, Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

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