I doubt the cornfields in Jefferson County, Indiana have ever heard the high wail of a Ferrari V8. My daughter and I are clipping corners and leveling hills as we blitz to Clifty Falls State Park in the Maserati Levante Trofeo. I barely slow down as we pass a Methodist Church, in which worshippers surely think I’m bringing The Second Coming when I press the “Corsa” button and exhaust cracks in thunderous rapture. The big crossover surges forward. I click down on the paddle shifter for a tight left-hander, plunge the brakes, flex steering, and stomp again. Traveling in this very grand touring machine becomes intoxicating.
Our journey began by pounding coffee and pound cake at our favorite coffee shop back in Indianapolis while examining the Levante through large widows. It looks like a Maserati Ghibli and Jeep Grand Cherokee had relations, which means it’s pretty big, though graced with flowing curves, angry grille, and 22” steamrollers at the corners. Trofeo editions are distinguished by carbon fiber ground affects. It’s a look that demands a drive.
Underway, heated and ventilated leather sport seats gripped our sides and coddled our bottoms. My daughter preferred the panoramic sunroof open and power rear sunshades raised. We both enjoyed the 1280w 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system. Sweet aural ecstasy! Wood and carbon fiber trim are available, but ours had glossy metal weave underlining an elegant Maserati clock and leather and metal weave on the steering wheel.
Power window and turn signal switches hail from Mother Chrysler, as does the intuitive infotainment touchscreen, with simple icons, that’s the model for all luxury car infotainment systems. Safety was enhanced by adaptive cruise with lane centering, forward collision alert with auto brake, and active blind spot assist to gently move away from danger. Hill descent control and hill hold are employed on-trail.
And, nobody cares when exercising the Maranello-built jewel nestled between the fenders. The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 conjures 590 horsepower, kicking the Levante from 0-60 mph in a scant 3.8 seconds on the way to a 189 mph top speed. All-wheel-drive keeps power down and torching fuel at 14/18-MPG city/highway. Raise fuel economy to 15/21-MPG by choosing the 345 horsepower twin-turbo V6, but add 2 seconds to 60 mph and erase 30 mph in top speed. No thanks!
When not grooving to the exhaust note, there’s time to dial the chassis. Electronic suspension damping keeps the big crossover planted over dropping crests and tight apexes, though you feel the vehicle’s mass. It’s no sports car. The air suspension lowers it down at speed and raises up for off-roading. Driving modes include Normal, Sport (opens the exhaust, enlivens throttle, tightens suspension/steering), Off-road, and Corsa with launch control for quick get-aways.
We keep it to a low rumble while in the park for a few days, but upon leaving a lady looked at us and said, “You don’t see many of those around here!” I think, “I suppose not, and you won’t see this one long either, because we’re outta here!” It didn’t take long to get home. After making quick work of two lanes, we hammer back to Indy on the Interstate, only slowing down for construction zones.
A vehicle I didn’t expect to like became a delightful traveling companion. Every moment felt special, but there’s a price. The Levante starts at $76,980, coming to…oh holy pitchforks…$170,380. Competitors include the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63, Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and Lamborghini Urus.
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