These are heavy-hitting Super SUVs.
In Canada, the 2020 Porsche Cayenne starts at $145,200, $127,800 in the US.
The 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo is priced from $168,560, $169,980 (2019) in the US.
These two SUVs, along with a handful of others, have become the ultimate symbol of success. Although big luxury sedans are still an executive favorite, nothing says money and family activities more than one of these SUVs. The Porsche Cayenne is an exceptional example of this and some four years ago, Maserati introduced the Levante to steal some of its thunder.
As it stands, the Levante has yet to do much of anything. And yet, it’s an incredible SUV in many respects. There’s no wondering why Maserati (FCA) decided to develop and sell such an SUV: increase volume, market share, and rake in money. Frankly, that’s exactly what Porsche did almost 20 years ago. The difference is that in very little time, the Cayenne established itself as the one to beat in the segment.
If we compare brands, pound for pound, both have an enduring legacy and an engaging history. In the recent past, however, Porsche’s severely eclipsed Maserati although the latter are on track to rectify being far too quiet over the last decade or so.
In this exclusive, high-priced and powered segment, you’ll find the Audi SQ8 and RS Q8, the BMW X5 M, the soon-to-arrive Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S, Jaguar F-Pace SVR, Range Rover Sport SVR, and the two members of this comparison. Let’s see how they measure up to each other.
Powertrains and chassis
For the moment, V8 engines are the norm in this category. They remain the best way to get big power and generate strong emotions from drivers and passengers. Oh, and still a great way to people pedestrians to do a double-take too…
The Levante Trofeo’s Ferrari-built twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 produces 590 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 538 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. It is without a doubt the Levante’s worthiest asset. Mated to the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, the Trofeo launches to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and reaches 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds.
The Trofeo features, as standard, a Skyhook 5-way air suspension and adaptive dampers that can be configured through various drive modes, including Corsa, unique to the Trofeo. Maserati’s Q4 Intelligent AWD with Active Torque Control is also part of the package. The 4,800 lb Levante is shod with 2-piston front and single-piston rear calipers clamping down on four vented discs.
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo is equipped with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre which develops only 541 horsepower between 5,750 and 6,000 rpm and 567 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,960 to 4,500 rpm. With the standard 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, the Turbo will hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds or 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds. With the optional Sport Chrono package, the sprint time drops by 2 tenths of a second in both cases.
The Cayenne Turbo is equipped with a standard three-chamber air suspension mixed with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) active dampers with six height settings. AWD is included, as are 10-piston front and 4-piston rear brake calipers, while 4-wheel steering is optional.
Pricing And Availability
In Canada, the 2020 Porsche Cayenne starts at $145,200, while in the US, the base price is $127,800. With a few choice options, excluding Porsche ceramic brakes, pricing can rise to $185,000 with little effort.
The Cayenne Turbo has been available since late 2018.
The 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo is priced from $168,560 and from $169,980 (2019) in the US. The few available options with the Trofeo keep the price barely above $170,000.
The Levante Trofeo also became available in late 2018.
Styling Inside And Out
The Levante is visually unique and because it is such a rare sight, it often garners a second glance. Head-on, the Levante’s gaping mouth and narrow headlight treatment generate quite the aggressive look. Generally-speaking however, its proportions are slightly off where it’s too long, too tall, and not quite wide enough. Unfortunately, there are very few colours available for the Levante, and grey and black tones shades do not help.
The cabin is a mixed bag of ultra-premium materials, gorgeous details, and leftover FCA parts-bin bits. Some “bits” are acceptable such as the included 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen display. The leathers are supple, sumptuous even, and the carbon fibre is beautifully prepared but there’s little to be done about the Chrysler minivan window switches…
The latest generation Cayenne is more muscular than ever, with an ideal ratio between height, width, and length. Contrary to the Maserati, it is relatively common which can typically take away some of its prestige, in a way. Also contrary to Maserati, the Cayenne is offered in a dozen colours including Lava Orange.
Indoors, the Porsche is distinctly Porsche with familiar switchgear, a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen display, top-notch materials, and all with an incredible sense of purpose. No corners were cut when designing and building this cabin.
Overall, the Cayenne shows to be a far more modern vehicle.
How important are these vehicles for their respective brands?
The Cayenne’s contribution to Porsche’s fortunes is now the stuff of legend. In only a few short years after it arrived for 2002, it reversed Porsche’s position as a downtrodden carmaker into one of the most valuable on the planet within a few short years.
In the process, it became the brand’s best-seller eclipsing by a considerable margin the combined sales of the 911 and Boxster. Thanks to it, the Cayman was born as were innumerable variations of the 911, the Carrera GT, the 918 and so on and so forth.
Lately, the Cayenne was given a break from the pressure as it’s no longer the leader in sales. The Porsche Macan has taken the lead.
The Maserati Levante’s position within its ranks is similar to that of the Cayenne where it quickly overtook the Maser cars in annual sales. As the volume leader, its impact on Maserati’s bottom line may not have been as significant as the Porsche but it looks as though it was enough. And, like the Cayenne, it will soon be relieved of its duties.
Maserati has just revealed its near future plans to introduce more than a dozen new models including a new sub-Levante SUV to be called Grecale. When it launches next year, it is highly likely that it will become the brand’s best-selling nameplate.
Our Thoughts On The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo and 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo
What is most difficult to accept is that Maserati wants considerably more money for its Levante Trofeo over Porsche Cayenne Turbo. And even if the gap was of only $5,000 (instead of $25,000) more for the Maser over the Porker, it would still be too much to ask.
In my review of the Levante Turbo (I’ve not driven the Cayenne Turbo yet), I only touched on the fact that buyers in this segment and price range do not see any extra value, perceived or otherwise, in the Maserati. This explains in part why the Cayenne outsold the Levante by nearly 10-to-1 in 2019.
This comparison shows that the Maserati holds no advantage over the Cayenne, nor would it over the X5 M, RS Q8, or Sport SVR. And the price gap between these and the Levante reaches almost $45,000.
Actually, and finally, maybe the 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo does have one benefit over the Cayenne: It has more personality.