An SUV has become a must-have for car makers like Maserati, so the firm deserves credit for not low-balling its entry.

The Levante could have been a reworked Jeep Cherokee – a prospect to send shivers down the spine of anyone with affection for the firm’s 100-year history.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
A mildly interesting also-ran, with a weak engine and so-so handling

Instead, it is in keeping with the brand’s recent output, being a good-looking, slightly odd-sized and semi-luxurious but not-quite-fast-enough mixed bag.

As with the Ghibli, Maserati has invested the Levante with the diesel engine it had available rather than the one the car really needed.

We have no trouble believing that the lighter, quicker V6 petrol model makes for a better car, while a more dynamically stimulating option might well have proved more successful in challenging the established supremacy of the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport.

As it is, the diesel Levante only makes for an average large SUV – and an anticlimactic addition to the Maserati range, while the petrol version certainly fits the bill better.

Expect it to become the firm’s best seller in due course, but don’t assume that counts for much. The Levante is more mildly interesting also-ran than the coming-of-age car it might have been.

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Overall, that is why the Levante doesn’t touch our top five luxury SUVs which is headed by the formidable Range Rover Sport, followed by the Porsche CayenneVolvo XC90Audi Q7 and the BMW X5

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