A Maserati is a rare treat, an Italian-themed slice of perfection that’s supposed to show that you made it in the high-paced society that we all live in. That said, it’s no secret that the marque has had a turbulent history recently, especially in the decades before it ended up in the fold of the juggernaut now known as Stellantis. Maserati has greatly benefitted from this arraignment and even used it to help prepare its first-ever SUV model, the Levante. While lesser Levantes are known for coddling occupants in world-class comfort, the Trofeo model serves to satiate buyers looking for more performance in their commute. But is the 2022 Maserati Levante Trofeo capable of matching the hype?
Track Ready Styling Pumps Up The Volume For Levante Trofeo
When our Rosso Magma hued tester pulled up at the office, we were immediately smitten with its bespoke good looks. The standard Levante follows Maserati’s core design pillars to the letter, but the Trofeo is what would happen if the big SUV was allowed to cut loose and fully express itself. The front bumper is reworked with a bigger front grille and a reworked front bumper providing more attitude than ever before. There are also splashes of carbon fiber trim, but unlike other performance SUVs that we have seen, it’s not overdone, and it works well with the Levante’s lines, especially with the 22-inch blacked-out anthracite-finished alloy wheels. We also like the red-hued portholes on the front fender and the Italian tri-color that’s incorporated into the window molding.
The rear of the SUV also keeps things exciting thanks to a big set of tailpipes and a sloping roofline that keeps the Levante from having the same drab rear presence that’s sadly becoming a plague in the rest of the SUV segment. All of this helps create a handsome suit of clothes, but the look also inadvertently causes the Maserati to be unfairly (and incorrectly) labeled as an Italian version of a Jeep Cherokee. While the profile is somewhat similar to the Jeep, the Levante is completely unrelated to that model and is built on Maserati’s M156 Platform.
Trofeo Interior Exudes Luxury But Fails To Go Full Circle With It
Slip inside the Levante, and at first glance, the cabin appears to follow the same script as the exterior with the supple leather sport seats, black Alcantara headliner, and the metal crafted steering wheel mounted paddle shifters checking off all the boxes for an ultra-luxury SUV. However, look past these items, and the illusion begins to crumble rapidly.
There are some cheap plastics that are used in spots, and the trim surrounding the center console controls looks even chintzier. A heavy abundance of Stellantis parts bin components is also used throughout the interior. The stalks for the windshield wiper and headlight controls are used in a whole host of Stellantis vehicles. The window switches, in particular are a glaring sign of this collectivization, and they were first designed back in the waning days of the DaimlerChrysler era. Another point of frustration that surfaced was the stacked arraignment for the central controller. While the infotainment system is touch-oriented, it was very easy to confuse the bigger tune/scroll knob with the volume control, which is the smaller knob’s job. Here’s hoping that the next generation Levante will formally separate these functions to help eliminate some of this initial confusion.
Thankfully the one bit of carryover technology that’s a welcome exception to the rule is the 8.4-inch infotainment system that’s standard in the Trofeo. This system runs Maserati’s Touch Control Plus Software (a reskinned version of Uconnect) and is the one piece of the Trofeo’s tech game that stands out the most. While purists will throw their hands in the air at the Stellantis sourced system, it’s a massive improvement over older and far clunkier systems that Maserati used in the past, and the responses here are on par with the best in the industry. Accessing various menus is a breeze, and the layout itself is refreshingly simple and easy to master.
Lastly, the Trofeo’s practicality allows it to be on par with some of its rivals. The door pockets are on the small side, but they can hold a water bottle or other small items, while a massive cubby in the center console and a storage tray ahead of the cupholders handle larger items. The rear seats in our tester offer plenty of room for adults, and the rear passengers we had back there for a trip to Jimmy John’s Field (home of the United Shore Professional Baseball League) enjoyed the abundant head and legroom. Rear cargo room with the seats up is a mere 20.5 cubic feet but folding them down helps expand the cargo room when you’re not hauling people. Like the pricier Bentley Bentayga, owners will have to live with manual seat controls. The seats themselves don’t fold all the way flat, with the former being an interesting choice in a vehicle that crosses the $100,000 barrier.
Ferrari Sourced Engine Is A Potent Track Weapon
It can be easy to forget that Maserati and Ferrari have a close connection with one another. That closeness continues with the Ferrari sourced 3.8 liter twin-turbocharged V8 that lurks under the hood. This V8 is also used in the Modena S model, but it gets turned up a notch in Trofeos like our tester, with these models producing 580 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough for a 0 to 60 time of 3.8 seconds, and the noises belting out of the exhaust system (especially in Corsa mode) are delightful music to the ears. As a bonus, the engine is tailor-made for car shows, just pop the hood open and let onlookers admire the carbon fiber accents and the matte red finish on the block.
An eight-speed automatic is the lone transmission here, but it’s eager to please with the unit delivering smooth, consistent shifts no matter how hard you drive it on your favorite driving road. Maserati adds a pair of fixed carbon fiber shift paddles to the wheel, but unlike other super SUVs that we experienced, we never felt the need to use them, with the transmission’s software doing its best work when left alone. While it’s a few gears short of some of its rivals, this transmission still has the right stuff to be mated with one of Ferrari’s best V8s in recent years. Fuel economy is what you would expect from such a fire-breathing beast, with the Trofeo rated for a paltry 13 mpg in the city and an equally modest 20 mpg in freeway driving. A Prius it isn’t, but as long as you let the V8 perform at its best, you’ll come away a very happy driver.
That said, we found that our tester’s handling was somewhat of a mixed bag. On the one hand, we appreciated how the moderate amount of body roll (even in Corsa mode) served as an indicator of the Levante’s limits, and it was easy to know when the Trofeo had grip to spare or when it was time to back off. Ride quality proved to be the chilies heel, with the default mode having a wishy-washy character to it, while Sport and Corsa modes replaced this aloofness with firm brutality that’s best served on an unblemished road (a rare thing to find here in Metro Detroit.) The brakes are strong, but the squishy pedal makes precise stops very difficult.
All For A Good Cause
Our time with the Levante Trofeo was partially thanks to the Drive Towards A Cure Organization. This charity organization helps create classic car and rally driving programs to help generate funds for research into Parkinson’s Disease and the end game of perhaps finding a cure for this horrible condition. Maserati USA is partnering with the organization for an ongoing campaign to raise more awareness and funding with the partnership, also paying tribute to former Maserati F1 driver Phillip Hill and his personal struggles with the disease.
That was shown in small part by the small orange sticker on the windshield of our Levante Trofeo tester with Maserati and Drive For A Cure hoping that this small sticker will help raise awareness nationwide about Parkinson’s and some of the programs and organizations that Driver For A Cure collaborates with. As someone who knows friends and close associates with the disease, it was refreshing to see that organizations like Drive For A Cure and others are willing to raise awareness and research into this terminal illness.
Pricing for the 2023 Maserati Levante lineup (our tester was a late 2022 model) starts at $87,600 for the base GT model, with the Modena version bumping that sticker up to $97,900. Trofeo versions like our tester serve as the range-topper in the family and are placed above the slightly detuned Modena S. A base Trofeo starts at $161,400, with our slightly less expensive example still crossing over the $170,000 barrier thanks to its $17,000 optional red paint as well as other goodies. That price conflicts with some of the Trofeo quirks, especially since comparable Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne models offer more technology and dialed-in performance for roughly the same or higher top-dollar prices. The Aston Martin DBX is another rival to the Trofeo, but while its interior is awash in typical Aston details, the DBX suffers from a cramped rear cargo area and questionable rear-end styling.
In the end, though, the Maserati Levante Trofeo is all about straddling the tightrope between outright performance and luxury. The Ferrari-sourced V8 brings plenty of thrills and chills to drivers, while the luxury trappings also coddle weary souls after a long day of driving. As a result, the Trofeo is one of the few SUVs that can walk this proverbial tightrope though we hope that the next generation Levante will help address some of its minor quirks to help it be an even sharper offering.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.