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Today is a special day and to celebrate it, I challenged my colleague Anas to find the best mid-size family SUV in the market and since I didn’t want to give him much of a chance of winning (yes I’m very competitive like that), I went out and got myself the facelifted 2020 Honda CR-V.
Anas being Anas, however, decided to roll up in a Maserati Levante, and it wasn’t just any Maserati Levante but the fastest and most expensive version available in the country: the Maserati Levante Trofeo. As per him, it was an SUV, it was mid-sized, and it seated a family, thus it ticked all the boxes to participate in this challenge.
It’s hard to question the logic, right? Well, since we had two “Family SUVs”, an empty stretch of road, and a challenge ahead of us, we decided to press on…
Challenge 1: Exterior Design
For most parents buying a family SUV is a mix of fulfilling a need (the requirement of a larger vehicle) and a want (the desire to stand out in the process). The Maserati Levante does just that, with it strongly following the brand’s signature styling, combining elegance with a distinctive sporty look through a distinctive grille, three air vents on the fender, and iconic trident on the C-pillar. The Trofeo version takes things up a notch with a carbon fiber splitter, carbon fiber side skirts, and carbon fiber bumper accents. It also gets an aluminum hood with prominent air vents on it.
Needless to mention the CR-V does not get any carbon fiber whatsoever, but it has always been a good-looking SUV and with the facelift, it gets a new bumper and grille, new LED headlights, new fog lights, and its signature taillights get a new dark tinted look. It also comes in a choice of nine exterior colors. Quite frankly, I think it looks great, even though it’s missing all the beautification the Levante receives under the hood, the carbon fiber engine cover, red cylinder heads, etc.
Challenge 2: Boot Space
One of the main reasons people buy an SUV is for the practicality that it offers. Taking the kids to school during the week, big grocery trips on the weekend, are all part and parcel of a family SUV’s duties and that’s why boot space is an important number. The CR-V delivers on that front and gets an impressive 1,065 liters of storage behind the second row. Unfortunately, the Maserati Levante does not come close as it only has 580-liters to offer. As Anas would say though, “Why do you need that much boot space, are you running a furniture moving company?” But then again, you’d expect that from him since the Maserati was his choice after all…
Challenge 3: Passenger Space
While boot space is an important number, it’s only tells us half the story, as most family SUVs spend more time transporting people that goods or groceries. The backseats of the Honda CR-V are truly impressive, offering far more headroom and legroom than significantly larger and pricier SUVs. The uncluttered layout also means that three adults can sit extremely comfortably in the back seats.
Sadly, the same cannot be said about the Maserati Levante. It offers far less headroom and legroom and having three adults in the backseat is something owners can only dream of. Although the seats are low and hard, the transmission tunnel is high, and the rear A/C protrude into passenger space, the seats are covered in real leather, finished in a gorgeous red hue and that does make them feel rather special.
Challenge 4: Features
What makes a good family SUV, a great family SUV are the features you get in it. The Honda CR-V comes equipped with a sunroof, a 7-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Cruise Control, and it also gets the brand’s one-of-a-kind blind spot monitoring system called Lane Watch. The cherry on the top, comes in as wireless mobile charger.
The Maserati Levante, on the other hand, gets a full-length panoramic roof and an 8.4-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In terms of driver aids, it not only gets Cruise Control, but Adaptive Cruise Control, lane keeping assist and a proper blind spot monitoring system on the mirrors that doesn’t distract you with video on the screen every time you want to change lane to the right. What the Levante misses out as a wireless charger, it more than makes up for with a velvet padded storage box with real carbon fiber.
Challenge 5: The Drive
When it comes to driving a mid-size family SUV, it should have enough power, be comfortable to drive, and be relatively fuel efficient and the Honda CR-V ticks all the boxes. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine in the CR-V produces 184 horsepower and 244 Nm of torque. This is pushed through a CVT transmission to all four corners (since our test car was the All-Wheel Drive variant) and it averages 14.7 kilometers per liter. Being a CR-V, it is comfortable to drive with more than enough power, the dimensions are very easy to judge because of the high seating position, and since comfort is of utmost priority, the suspension does a great job of soaking bumps and imperfections in the road.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Levante Trofeo’s 3.8-liter V8 Ferrari built engine makes a whopping 590 horsepower and 730 Nm of torque and sends it to all four wheels. Just in case you’re wondering, that’s THREE TIMES as much power as the Honda CR-V. The Levante has three different drive modes (Normal, Sport, Corsa) and a separate sport setting for the air suspension, which also allows you to control the height. Put it into Corsa (track mode) and you can comfortably reach 100km/h in just 3.9-seconds and a top speed of 304km/h.
In this challenge we have confirmed that the Honda CR-V is still one of the best family SUVs you can buy. It’s practical, comfortable, and it’s affordable with a starting price of just AED 92,900. The CR-V should be on the list for anyone looking to buy a car in this segment. But if you want to add a lot of thrill and excitement to your family life, and you have enough budget to buy SEVEN CR-Vs, then you might want to consider the amazing Maserati Levante Trofeo.