Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips and Reviews

Leave the Levante Behind

When I think of luxury car brands – Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Porsche – I think fast. Sleek. Sexy.

I do not think lumbering, beastly and – (the horror!) – SUV.

To me, if you’re rich enough to drive a luxury sports car, why wouldn’t you also just buy a “cheap” family SUV in addition to your adult-only ride? Maybe a nice Honda or a Mazda? Even if you’re rich enough to own two luxury cars, why would you want to spend the money on an SUV that just so happens to bear the same name as your beloved sports car?

While it makes no sense to me, I must be alone in this thinking, given that Maserati, Lamborghini, and Porsche have all released (or, in the case of Lamborghini, are set to release) family-sized SUVs. As of now, Ferrari stands alone in the fight against the SUV, although there are rumblings that could change in the future.

Personally, I think this is basically brand dilution. Look, judge me all you want, but if someone tells me they are picking me up in a Maserati, I want to see either this, or this, or especially this pull up outside my front door. What I do not want to see barreling up my driveway is this: the Maserati Levante.

Now I know what you’re thinking 1. I’m a snob and 2. Beggars can’t be choosers. And you’re probably somewhat right on both counts. But it’s more than that – it’s about respecting the brand. Look, you see it all the time with fashion – as brands start producing more affordable options and trying to attract a younger demographic, the brand becomes less valuable, less sought-after. Basically, the brand becomes, well, not cool anymore (here’s looking at you, Coach). And that can be a costly mistake to try to correct.

I guess the thing is, if you’re going to put out an SUV version of a luxury car, it better be a damn good SUV, right? Unfortunately, I just don’t think the Maserati SUV is that much better than say, the top-trim Lexus 350 F Sport, which has a starting MSRP of $49,020, as opposed to the Levante, which starts at $72,600. But don’t take my word for it – a quick comparison should show you that you’re much better off parlaying your sizable funds into what Maserati does best: supreme sedans, not subpar SUVs.

 

Maserati Levante vs. the Lexus 350 F Sport

 

Performance

Okay, so what does an extra $23,580 get you? Well, if you opt for the 2017 Lexus RX 350 F Sport, you’re getting a 3.5-liter V6 that can get up to 295 horsepower. In the 2017 Maserati Levante, you’re getting twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that churns out 345 horsepower. So, sure, that’s pretty substantial. Of course, if you want to shell out even more dough, you can opt for the Levante S trim and upgrade to a V6 engine that’s capable of getting up to 424 horses galloping under the hood.

The question is – do you really need that much speed in an SUV? A sports car, sure – but an SUV? Are you really that anxious to get to yet another youth soccer match?

Also, you better hope your stock portfolio is generating some sweet returns, because you’re going to need all the extra coin you can get to fill the incredibly thirsty Levante. Chugging fuel at 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, the Levante is the epitome of a gas guzzler. In fact, it’s some of the worst fuel economy in the luxury midsize SUV class. The Lexus RX 350 F Sport, on the other hand, gets 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. That’s a significant difference. Yes – we know you want to brag about your Maserati every chance you get, but do you really want to do it while standing at the gas pump multiple times a week?

 

Interior

You may not ever have the chance to open your SUV up to top speeds, but you are certainly going to spend enough time in it to want the best of the best when it comes to amenities. Here’s what you’ll find in the top-trim Lexus 350 F Sport: leather upholstery, an 8-inch display screen, rear privacy glass, keyless ignition and entry, power-adjustable front seats which are also heated and ventilated, dual zone climate control, a nine-speaker sound system, a power-adjustable steering wheel, automatic LED headlights, Bluetooth, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, and the Lexus Safety System+ package. The Safety System+ package loads up the SUV with awesome safety features like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection and lane keep assist. There are also a myriad (nine, to be exact) of packages that you can add to the Lexus if you’re searching for a specific feature.

Now compare that to the Maserati Levante S – the top trim level. Go for the S and you’ll get an 8.4 inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, a USB port, Bluetooth, an SD card slot, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start with proximity key, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, leather upholstery, a power adjustable steering wheel, navigation, a panoramic sunroof, cruise control, satellite radio, 12 way power-adjustable front seats, and a power liftgate. Safety features include rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and blind spot monitoring.

So that’s more than the top-trim Lexus, right? Right… a few extra goodies which will set you back $83,800. For that amount of money, you should buy the Lexus and add on any (or all) of the packages. Of course, if you just like to burn money – feel free to get the Levante and add packages to that as well. We just think it’s crazy that for over $80K you should have to buy a package for anything.

 

Maserati Levante: Nope.

Of course, this all comes down to personal preference. Maybe you just really love the Maserati brand and can’t wait to park the SUV in your gold-plated driveway. But you probably didn’t get so wealthy by making bad choices, and in this case, we think splurging on an SUV that’s biggest selling point is its name is exactly that – a bad choice. Save your money for where the true fun is had – in Maserati’s line of sports cars and sedans, not its SUV.