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The Levante SUV is the most important Maserati of all time

Maserati LevanteMaserati

Maserati unveiled its all-new Levante SUV this week at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. The Levante will be the first SUV in the history of the century-old Italian brand known mostly for its exotic sports cars.

In recent years, Maserati’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has worked hard to revive the brand that had all but died out in the US. The company made a big splash in 2014 with the introduction if its Ghibli sedan, but the momentum surrounding the brand has tapered off since then.

With the Levante, Maserati hopes to reignite the company’s flagging sales by tapping into the surging luxury SUV market. The Levante will join Maserati’s existing lineup, which includes the Quattroporte and Ghibli sedans along with the GranTurismo and GranCabrio GT models.

Maserati Levante made quite a splash when it was unveiled in Geneva. It's arguably the most important vehicle the company has ever built.

Maserati

For car companies, luxury SUVs are veritable cash cows. They offer high profits margins and sell in large volumes. (Large volume is relative to the exclusivity of the brand.)

Maserati

In a market that craves SUVs, the Levante finally allows Maserati to compete with luxury off-roaders from rival brands, such as ...

Maserati

... the Porsche Cayenne ...

Porsche

... BMW X5 ...

BMW

... Range Rover Sport and...

... Jaguar's stunning F-Pace.

Jaguar

Like most of its rivals, the Levante is not a pure SUV. Rather, it's a crossover that's based on the Maserati's Ghibli sedan.

Maserati

The Levante comes in three trim levels with three different available powertrains.

Maserati

Like the Ghibli sedan on which it is based, the Levante will be available with a 350 horsepower and a 430 hp version of the company's stellar 3.0 litre, twin-turbo V6. There is also a 3.0 turbodiesel available as well. All engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Justin Gmoser/Business Insider

Drivers can also choose from several on-road and off-road drive settings.

Maserati

The Levante can be optioned with Maserati's 'Q4' all-wheel-drive system.

Maserati

Styling wise, the Levante retains many of the trains found across the Maserati family of models. The Trident logo sits prominently in the middle of a menacing, Ghibli-derived front grille and headlight assembly.

Maserati

The Levante sleek side-profile is features a cut rear roof line similar to the Jag F-Pace and Lexus RX crossovers.

Maserati

The rear of the Levante is punctuated by large quad-exhausts and a partially integrated spoiler.

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Up top, there's a large panoramic roof.

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Inside, the Levante shares a similar interior with the company's luxury sedans. There are a variety of options available ranging from fine, soft touch leather to silk accented interiors.

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Naturally, it's got embroidered Maserati logos.

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The Levante comes equipped with Maserati's version of Fiat Chrysler's well-received touchscreen infotainment system.

Maserati

The Maserati Levante has entered production at Fiat Chrysler's Turn factory. It is expected to launch worldwide later this year with a price of around $72,000.

Maserati

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