The first thing you need to know about the 2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo is that it's the most powerful vehicle Maserati currently makes, outgunning models like the GranTurismo and Quattroporte GTS by a good margin. In fact, the only production Maserati more powerful than the Levante Trofeo was the V12-powered MC12 Versione Corse. The Trofeo's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 is built by Ferrari and shares more than a little with that company's current crop of V8 engines. The biggest difference is that this engine uses a cross-plane crankshaft in place of Ferrari's flat-plane crank as well as a wet sump oiling system. The Trofeo hits 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 187 mph. The styling is more aggressive than the already bold Levante GTS thanks to 22-inch wheels, carbon fiber trim and a new hood with vents to help cool the engine. Inside the cabin, nearly every surface is covered with leather and carbon fiber.
Now, all this comes at a cost. The Levante Trofeo starts at $169,980, $39,000 more than a Levante GTS and more than twice as much as a base model. You're mostly paying for performance and styling since most of the features on our tester like the upgraded leather upholstery and four-zone climate control can be found on lesser Levantes.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: Ferrari is ending its deal to supply engines to Maserati. That's a shame — for Maserati. The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 in the Levante Trofeo is a riot, and it gives this golden-retriever-hauling crossover the feel of a true Italian sports car. You might know this engine from the Ferrari Portofino. It's lightly modified and built on the same line in Maranello, Italy. Mash the gas and this thing emits a growl that grows more guttural as the revs build. It sounds pretty good at 3,000 to 4,000 rpm, which is about all you can sensibly summon in the suburbs. I've driven the twin-turbo V6, which is also solid and also supplied by Ferrari, but trust me, you want the V8.
The rest of the Levante is attractive, though it's not the most practical thing around. I was able to get a rear-facing car seat in the back, and my toddler certainly enjoyed his first ride in a Maserati. Other thoughts: I like the elevated ride height, toothy grille and curvy fenders. The Levante is a compelling option in this expensive segment designed for Rich Uncle Pennybags. If that's you, don't scrimp with six cylinders. Go with the V8.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: What Greg said about the powertrain is dead on. Other than that, I wasn't super impressed with this vehicle. From the outside, it looks rather generic. On the Inside, it feels like it could be a re-skinned Dodge or something. That DNA is strong, and doesn't feel particularly Italian. There's a ton of carbon fiber, though, and the carbon on the paddles and steering wheel is super grippy.
I noticed a couple oddities in this Maserati. The turn signal is really hard to reach behind the giant left paddle. If you're using the gear selector to make your own shifts, it's pull for upshift and push for downshift — just the way I like it. Finally, the headrests are kind of weird, and they sort of rock back and forth with the top of the seatback behind your shoulders. The fact that it moved so easily felt strange at first, but it meant my head and shoulders were always supported, no matter how I moved.
Assistant Editor, Zac Palmer: If I were to consider the Levante Trofeo from a powertrain perspective, I'd call it a wunderkind. Putting this engine into the Levante is silly and unnecessary, but undeniably awesome. On the other hand, it's one of the only reasons I could find to love this car.
Like John put it, the Levante feels a bit like a re-skinned, high-class Dodge product on the inside. This is no more prevalent than in the infotainment system and gauge cluster screen. Maserati calls the infotainment system "Maserati Touch Control Plus," but it's actually just Uconnect that's been painted over with an Italian brush. Same goes for the digital cluster in between the dials. There's no escaping this tech's humble roots, and it just isn't a good look when compared to Mercedes' MBUX, BMW's new iDrive 7.0 or Audi's newest MMI. Even Porsche's tech offers a more satisfying experience.
I had to constantly fight with the Levante's Highway Assist System on my commute, too. The steering wheel jumps around and vibrates in hand so often that it's almost more of a distraction than helpful assistant on the highway. It's simply one more example of where the Germans have Maserati dead to rights in this class. However, none of those companies' performance crossovers have Ferrari V8s under the hood. Pick your poison.