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Car and Driver: How We’d Spec It: Maserati Levante, The Godfather of Luxury SUVs

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Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 10.36.41 PM

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With its all-new Levante, Maserati is making luxury crossover and SUV buyers an offer (it hopes) they can’t refuse. As the Italian brand’s first foray into the hotly contested segment, the mid-sized SUV will try to muscle in on rivals such as the Porsche Cayenne and the BMW X5. With Maserati now having released full pricing for the new model, we configured a Levante that would garner maximum respect.

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Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 10.37.00 PM

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MODEL:

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Maserati Levante S (base price: $84,250)

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Starting at $73,250 for the base model, the Levante comes standard with all-wheel drive and a 345-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6; however, a more powerful Levante S is also available, and when you’re the one pulling the strings, you understand that there’s no such thing as too much power. That’s why we’re opting for the latter model. With 424 horsepower routed to all four wheels, the SUV’s more potent 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 will help it run from 0 to 60 mph in a claimed 5.0 seconds flat. Shifting duties are delegated to a standard ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that assists in getting the Levante S to a top speed of 164 mph—which ought to be plenty fast enough to outrun any threats encountered on the Long Island Causeway.

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Levante-Maserati-Interior

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OPTIONS:

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Zegna package ($7000)

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Driver Assistance package Plus ($3000)

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Carbon fiber interior trim ($2850)

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20-inch wheels ($1800)

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Adaptive HID headlights ($500)

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Red brake calipers ($300)

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Not wanting to look like a jabroni, we decided it best to go all out and check the box for the $7000 Zegna package on our Verde Ossido (Italian for green oxide) Levante S. Along with ventilated seats, a 14-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, and skid plates finished in bright chrome, the package also features two-tone interior trim. In order to match the red brake calipers that we sprung for, we elected to line the Levante S’s insides in Rosso (red) leather with Grigio (gray) silk inserts in the seats. We also opted for the carbon fiber interior trim, as it best matched the car’s two-tone interior.

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Offered with 19-, 20-, or 21-inch wheels, we decided to pull the Goldilocks approach when it came to choosing a wheel size on the Levante S. Fearing the 19-inch wheels might make our Italian SUV look too soft, but thinking that the big 21-inch wheels might ruin the Levante’s ride quality, we chose to equip the Maserati with attractive five-spoke 20-inch wheels that should have enough sidewall to maintain some on-road comfort over bumpy roads throughout the five boroughs.

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We further opted for the Driver Assistance Package Plus, which includes adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision warning system, lane-departure warning, and a surround view camera (surveillance is important in our business). We also checked the box for adaptive HID headlights, since we often work at night. We did leave a few options on the table: heated rear seats (why pay extra to make our passengers more comfortable?), a Bowers & Wilkins stereo system, four-zone automatic climate control, and a handful of other smaller features.

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All told, our Levante S rang in at a cool $99,700. That figure is on the higher end of the segment, but aligns nicely with the Cayenne’s pricing. No surprise then that like the Cayenne, the Levante is an SUV made by a brand with a history of producing sports cars as opposed to SUVs. If style, power, and sex appeal are what drive your purchasing decisions, the Levante is certainly worth a look (or at least configurating). Plus, if you happen to deal in an all-cash business, a Levante S spec’d like ours is an easy way to clear approximately $100,000 worth of coin from your mattress.

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Maserati-Levante-Pricing-REEL

-HuepoLIR84s

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