Lap of Luxury: Driving the Maserati Levante SUV

For this edition of the Lap of Luxury, we visited Maserati and check out the new Levante SUV.

The Levante has two 3-liter V6 twin turbo engines built by Ferrari. Tom Shanley, head of Maserati North America, says you won't find that in any other SUV. The Levante comes in two models: 345 horsepower and 424 horsepower. Its top speed is 164 mph. It goes from zero to 60mph in five seconds. 

The Levante is pure Italian craftsmanship, from its sound to the way it handles. Tom says it really is a unique experience. We wanted to have that unique experience, so we took the Levante out on a rainy afternoon for a small tour of Bergen County, New Jersey, Maserati-style.

Starting at $72,000, the Levante is the only luxury Italian SUV on the market today. Its name, Levante, comes from a Maserati tradition of naming its cars after winds. Tom says Levante is a warm Mediterranean wind that can go from calm to gale force in a matter of seconds, just like the car.

Known for its Italian heritage, the brand was founded by Alfieri Maserati in Bologna in 1914. Maserati is headquartered in Modena, where it moved in 1934. The Maserati trident logo is a tribute to that heritage, derived from a statue of Neptune in Bologna that holds a trident.

Maserati is not known as an everyman's car and while there are no plans to change that, Tom says it was time to make an accessible SUV. If you look at what's going on in the automotive segment today, he says, a tremendous shift has happened from passenger cars to SUVs. He says if you want to be successful in the Unites States auto market, you have to have an SUV. But it is important for that SUV to be a Maserati first, Tom says.

If a sport utility vehicle doesn't scream Maserati loudly enough for you, there are three other options.

The Ghibli sports sedan starts around $72,000. It has two engines, both of them 3-liter V6 twin turbo built by Ferrari.

The Quattroporte is the brand's flagship luxury sedan. It starts around $100,000 and comes with either a 400-horsepower V6 engine or a 523-horsepower V8 engine that goes 194 mph.

The brand's iconic sports cars are the GranTurismo and GranTurismo Convertible. Tom describes them as the DNA of Maserati.

Every single Maserati is designed to give you a sensory driving experience. Tom says owning a Maserati hits four of the five senses:

It starts with sight: the way the car looks, the design, the Italian leather, and the wood.

Then there is the way the car smells.

And, of course, the touch: the stitching on the dashboard and the seats.

And last but not least, the signature sound. When you fire up a Maserati with its twin turbo engines and hit the gas pedal, that sound is exclusive and unique to Maserati.