The 2023 Maserati Grecale, Driven on 2 Continents (2023)

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    Can Maserati's new SUV compete with the best of the crowded luxury compact crossover class?

    The 2023 Maserati Grecale, Driven on 2 Continents (6)

    ByWill Sabel Courtney

    In 2023, Maserati is swinging for the fences at both ends of the lineup. Near the top of the batting order sits the new GranTurismo, the epic, well, gran turismo coupe with a price tag circling $200K, a design made to draw stares and an interior worthy of a true luxury brand. But the utility player whose success may wind up actually determining the company's fate sits at a much lower price point: the Grecale sport-utility vehicle.

    The Grecale is, in many ways, meant to be an Italian equivalent of the Porsche Macan — not just in size and performance, but in its mission to become a volume leader for its company and help subsidize the cost of those killer sports cars, all without diluting the values and virtues that made the brand what it is. To find out how well it succeeds at that, we took it for two separate spins on two different continents.

    The 2023 Maserati Grecale: What We Think

    Maserati's second stab at an SUV isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. Still, given the immense level of competition in the luxury SUV market, it's hard to make a case for purchasing it instead of one of its foes. The full-throated Trofeo model is dastardly quick, but its six-figure price makes it hard to justify, especially since it looks largely identical to its lesser siblings; the lower-priced volume models are a better value, but still not quite top-of-class in terms of quality. Unless you're an Italian car die-hard or have long dreamed of parking a Maserati in your driveway, cars like the Macan and BMW X3 / X4 pack better build quality and equal or greater performance for similar or less money.

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    The Grecale is plenty fun to drive

    The 2023 Maserati Grecale, Driven on 2 Continents (8)

    Will Sabel Courtney

    I had the chance to drive two different versions of the Grecale in two very different environments: the 523-hp top-shelf Grecale Trofeo on the farm roads outside Rome, Italy, and the 325-hp mid-tier Grecale Modena on the roads of and around New York City. The former makes its potent pack of ponies using a version of the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine found in the MC20 supercar and GranTurismo; the Modena, like oh so many vehicles these days, uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four.

    The Trofeo model, as you'd expect, is damn quick, ripping up to redline with vigor and propelling the car forward with the sort of alacrity that will have you very quickly believing Maserati's claim of a 177-mph top speed. But the Modena is no slouch, either, especially once you click the Porsche-like drive mode selector into Sport to keep the engine purring in the heart of its power band. And while leaving the eight-speed automatic to make its own choices will produce the quickest results, the massive metal paddle shifters behind the wheel are just too dang fun not to use. Both models are entertaining in the curves, too, thanks to quick, sharp steering and well-sorted suspensions. All told, few crossovers deliver this much fun on a winding road.

    The Grecale's looks are exotic for a crossover, although the style is a matter of taste

    Alluring design and Maserati go hand-in-hand, generally speaking; the brand has had more than its fair share of sexy, stylish and sultry cars over the years. The Grecale does its best to represent the brand's legacy while still remaining approachable to crossover-buying average Joes; the trio of portholes on the fender is a Maserati signature, the sharp sweep of the D-pillar exudes sportiness, and the angular headlights look almost identical to the ones on the high-dollar speed machines that wow and delight wherever they go.

    That said, while style is certainly subjective, the Grecale doesn't have the panache of, say, the larger Levante. The front fascia seems awkwardly tall, as if the designers committed to giant rims as their first choice and then found themselves forced to make the front end fit them. The tail end bears a slight resemblance to an Audi from select angles, too. And the overall proportions suffer from the same burden as just about all crossovers of this size: it's hard to make a vehicle this tall and this length not look a bit stubby.

    The interior looks nice, but the quality isn't as elevated as some competitors

    The 2023 Maserati Grecale, Driven on 2 Continents (10)

    Will Sabel Courtney

    Step inside, and you'll find a modern, comfortable cabin that places an emphasis on being design-forward and driver-centric. Screens are plentiful; even the little clock on the dash (again, seemingly inspired by Porsche) is actually a digital simulacrum of an analog timepiece. But some of them also betray Maserati's corporate ties to the broader Stellantis group; the fonts and design of the infotainment system look pretty much identical to what you'd find in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Why not spend a little more time doing a more comprehensive reskin on the software to be a little more unique and help set this Maserati apart from lesser cars?

    Other choices also seem rather confounding. With such nice leather and metal found in some places, the piano black plastic on the wheel and around the screens seems cheap by comparison. The storage cubby in front of the cupholders seems like it was designed for tucking your phone safely out of reach, yet it's too small for an iPhone — and not even a Max, just a regular-sized iPhone 12 Pro. The decision to relegate nearly all functions to the dual touchscreens is confounding; the volume controls are difficult to use, and even though their spots are permanent and dedicated on the screen, having important features like stability control on a screen that can crack, short out or go black ultimately feels a bit foolhardy. Considering many carmakers have begun to walk back their "touchscreen ALL the things" decisions of recent years, here's hoping Maserati follow suit with their next generation of infotainment.

    The 2023 Maserati Grecale

    The 2023 Maserati Grecale, Driven on 2 Continents (11)

    Will Sabel Courtney

    Base Price: $65,300 (GT); $74,400 (Modena); $105,300 (Trofeo)

    Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four / 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive

    Horsepower: 296 (GT); 325 (Modena); 523 (Trofeo)

    Torque (lb-ft): 332 (GT); 332 (Modena); 457 (Trofeo)

    EPA Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway (GT, Modena); 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway (Trofeo)

    Seats: Five


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