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No longer are low volume models enough for Maserati as there are now balance sheets to manage. That’s where the Levante S Q4 comes in and its main competition in the luxury SUV segment is the Porsche Cayenne.

Car And Driver contributor Josh Jacquot had a chance to test Maserati’s new SUV recently for a day or more. As with all SUVs, the Levante is a practical vehicle that was able to take on a load of kids and bicycles whilst providing its passengers with a “spleen-splitting ride in sport mode”. That may sound great on paper but the dampers in Sport mode are just too stiff for the roads of Michigan.

To make the ride more comfortable without compromising throttle response, drivers will need to decouple the powertrain from the stiffest damper setting. For an even higher level of ride customization, the standard computer-controlled air springs can be raised or lowered 3.4 inches.

Powering this SUV was a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine that’s producing 424 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system, the Levante’s power delivery may get a bit delayed if you catch the V-6 off-boost but that could remedied by manually operating the gearbox.

Overall, the Maserati Levante is an emotive vehicle whereas the Cayenne was called “antiseptic” by Jacquot.
 

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The Levante’s hydraulically assisted steering, though full of noise, never really sings. Requiring medium effort at speed, the steering system conveys ample vibration through the column, but there’s little sense of the available grip, the road texture, or the approaching limits. This system proves that fantastic steering is less a product of hardware than it is of priorities. We’ll gladly take a carefully tuned electrically assisted system over one that pumps fluid but doesn’t communicate.
This sounds like it would bother the heck out of me. Haven't seen any of our owners here complaining about it though?
 

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We're trading a Cayenne for the Levente, when it comes in March....Wife has been driving a cayenne for 3 years now....she's ready for something different !!....I can see the "antiseptic" comment about the Cayenne.....they are good cars though, but you see them Everywhere.....Plus...the Cayenne doesn't sound like a Ferrari.... Lol.. That was the main selling point for me with the Levente.....Lol. Plus, it just a beautiful SUV.
 
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We're trading a Cayenne for the Levente, when it comes in March....Wife has been driving a cayenne for 3 years now....she's ready for something different !!....I can see the "antiseptic" comment about the Cayenne.....they are good cars though, but you see them Everywhere.....Plus...the Cayenne doesn't sound like a Ferrari.... Lol.. That was the main selling point for me with the Levente.....Lol. Plus, it just a beautiful SUV.
I know exactly what you mean about the Cayenne's being everywhere. However there is only one way to stay Cayenne and be different and that's to get one of the higher up trims, which for most goes well beyond their budget. Insane how from the cheapest Cayenne to the most expensive price more than doubles. But its worth it.
 

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Turbo S starting at $160k vs a Fully Spec'd Levante S for shy of $105k

Huge difference there, most definitely.
 

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The real difference is Porsche knows they can play on the fact the Cayenne is a product that paved the way for the segment its in. It stood the test of time and is just about one of the best. It paved the way for brands like Maserati to get involved and now we're here.

I have seen people that will pay $20-30k more for a Porsche rather than get something that provides just as much value for much less. Branding is BIG.
 

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I know exactly what you mean about the Cayenne's being everywhere. However there is only one way to stay Cayenne and be different and that's to get one of the higher up trims, which for most goes well beyond their budget. Insane how from the cheapest Cayenne to the most expensive price more than doubles. But its worth it.
I can't tell the difference in Cayenne's trim....and I OWN one...and a Boxster S both 2014....But I think the Levante is in a class of its own as far as looks and sound compared to Cayenne.....I usually buy the car I like, not so much brand loyal like some Porsche fans. But Porsche is a great car for sure.
 
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Porsche has that name for ultimate luxury. Yea their images have changed through the years through small increments, however their products are still on top of their game through the line. They're very well known for how capable they are and their following is huge. BUT it really comes down to what you're looking for and what appeals to you yourself.
 

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last night as i was following my wife in her Levante (in the distance in my B250e) i heard 2 things on the phone - the exhaust and my wife laughing maniacally! honestly, brought me to tears that she is as crazy as i am for this aural stimulation! we 2 were planning to lease a RRS or Cayenne, but in the suburbs of Philadelphia they are on every corner. Feels good to be unique.
 
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