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Italian bucket list

When it comes to luxury brands, over a 14-year career of writing about cars, I’ve driven a lot of them. But not all of them. After this week, there’s one more luxury brand that I can say I’ve spent time with and boy am I am happy about it.

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I got to drive the 2022 Maserati Levante Trofeo. This Italian luxury brand is a bit of recluse. It’s rare to see one on the road, and as such it makes it that much more special. This particular SUV carried with it all the looks of something special. It was, indeed, a head turner, yet it wasn’t obviously garish like a sports car. Rather the Levante warranted a second glance when it sped by (and speed is the operative word there).

From that Maserati emblem (that resembles a tuning fork) anchored onto the mouthy grille to the longer hood and squatty back side, there was something different about the Levante. A spoiler over the back showed the playful, aggressive nature of this SUV while small tips of the cap to the Maserati’s Italian heritage could be found all over this vehicle.

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New for this model year are three new trim levels: GT, Modena and Trofeo. My tester was the latter, which is the top-of-the-line, performance-oriented trim. The Levante Trofeo has a 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 engine. As such, the Trofeo is good for 580 horsepower. While there was a nice tune to the engine, holding true to form, the Levante didn’t show off to the world all those horses, rather all that performance was refined and controlled, but made itself known with the slightest of pressure on the accelerator.

An eight-speed automatic transmission does a fantastic job of keeping all that power under control, or letting the revs go with all that horsepower. There are several various driving modes that alter the performance and driving personality. The Sport (or Corsa) button engages the impressive side of this powertrain with responsive acceleration, an increased engine tune through wide open exhaust valves and high-performance feel that sets it aside from the other more well-mannered modes (normal, I.C.E and Off Road modes).

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This mode was where the Levante shined and felt special. I knew was driving something special in this mode and the exhaust note was particularly outstanding in this mode. Needless to say, I left this mode engaged in almost all my driving conditions. I did not employ the launch control part of this mode, but boy did it look fun. Very few vehicles offer a launch mode, and each one of them is special.

Inside the Levante is special. It lacked some of the mind-blowing features that other luxury brands have, but yet the entire interior had quality touchpoints and comfort, as well as a quiet, refined interior. It’s what you’d expect from a vehicle like this.

Because Maserati is a Stellantis brand it receives the phenomenal Uconnect infotainment system. This system is intuitive and clean and integrates flawlessly with smart phones. The 8.4-inch touchscreen is well placed and driver-focused as well as responsive to touch commands.

Some of the more elegant touches include high gloss carbon fiber trim, Pieno natural leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, carbon fiber paddle shifters and adjustable pedals.

Cargo room behind the second row of seats is 20.5 cubic feet. The second row can be folded down to allow for 57.4 cubic feet of cargo area.

As the most-performance-oriented of the three trims, that also comes at a higher price as the Trofeo trim has a starting price of $153,100. Of note, the GT trim starts under $80,000. My tester had a final MSRP of $173,550 making it one of the top five most expensive vehicles I’ve driven.

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Fuel economy for the high-performance Levante is 13 mpg/city and 20 mpg/highway. I averaged nearly 16 mpg during my time with the Levante, and yes, I drove it heavy footed.

This Italian luxury performance SUV showed me a bit of how the other half might live. It’s certainly not how I can actually live, but at least I checked off another brand on my bucket list. Only a few more to go!

Jimmy Dinsmore is the Automotive Editor The Weekend Drive, a nationally syndicated automotive journalist and published author of two books including Mustang by Design (available now) and Ford Trucks: A History of the Ford F-Series (available this fall)