2023 Maserati Grecale Review and Test Drive
Exclusive Italian elegance and performance in a five-passenger SUV.
The Maserati brand holds a special place in automotive history. This Italian marque not only has a brilliant, storied past but also achieved pop-culture prominence with singer Joe Walsh's 1978 song "Life's Been Good," in which he said his Maserati does 185.
While the 2023 Grecale may not do 185 mph, it epitomizes the elegance and performance that Maseratis have delivered for more than 100 years.
A new model, the 2023 Maserati Grecale is the brand's second SUV after the larger and more expensive Levante. Highlights of Maserati's new SUV include an upscale and high-tech cabin, sporty handling, and a range of high-performance powertrains. Maserati has also announced plans for a fully electric Grecale Folgore, which is expected to go on sale this year.
The new Grecale competes in the compact luxury crossover segment with vehicles including the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi SQ5, BMW X3/X4, and Porsche Macan, among others. None of these, in my opinion, can deliver the exclusivity of a Maserati.
2023 Maserati Grecale Prices Position It Against Numerous Rivals
Maserati offers the 2023 Grecale in GT, Modena, and Trofeo trim levels. Base prices range from the mid-$60,000s to the mid-$100,000s, including the destination charge to ship the SUV from the Cassino, Italy, factory that builds it to your local dealership.
For this Grecale review, Maserati gave me the top-of-the-line Trofeo to test-drive in southeastern Michigan. Highlights from the optional equipment list included Blu Nobile Paint, 21-inch wheels, upgraded headlights, the Tech Assistance package, the Premium Plus package, and a few others. Those upgrades brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $120,495, including the $1,495 destination charge.
Maserati Grecale Design Feels Elegant
The Grecale may be an SUV, but it carries many of the styling cues found in the brand's sports and grand touring cars. Up front is a prominent grille with a shape and style similar to the GranTurismo, including the vertical bars and large Trident logo in the center. The test model's optional Matrix LED headlights give the Grecale a unique look at night.
At the rear, the LED taillights wrap around the corners, connected by a chrome bar topped by the Maserati name in classic script. Quad exhaust outlets and the optional 21-inch forged alloy wheels complete the look.
Inside the cabin, the Grecale offers an elegant mix of luxury and technology. Everything has a high-end feel, with seats trimmed in soft leather and many surfaces covered in leather or carbon fiber. Red stitching throughout the cabin adds a touch of sportiness to the style.
At the center of the dashboard is an unusual dual-screen display. The upper 12.3-inch touchscreen is for the infotainment system, while the lower 8.8-inch screen handles climate functions, lighting, and some vehicle controls. Aside from the buttons on the steering wheel, I saw no physical controls in the Grecale.
You choose gears using four soft-touch buttons located on the dashboard between the displays. Selections take a moment to respond. I briefly pressed the Park button then found the transmission hadn't shifted, surprising me when the Grecale moved forward when I took my foot off the brake pedal.
Comfortable Front and Back Seats
The Grecale's front seats are comfortable and stylish. Wrapped in supple and soft leather, they offer good bolstering and support without being too snug. Heating and ventilation add to the overall comfort levels.
Rear passengers will find expansive legroom and headroom, creating a comfortable space for at least two adults. Center-seat occupants will find limited legroom and less padding in the seat cushion, but it's acceptable for shorter trips. A rear-seat center display offers access to the rear climate controls and seat heaters.
Style Doesn't Interfere With Utility
Thanks to a center console free of controls and the gear selector, the Grecale supplies good cabin storage. There's a sizable bin below the center armrest and additional covered storage between the front seats and dual cupholders. A wireless phone charger is under the climate control display screen.
Open the rear liftgate, and you'll find 20.1 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the back seat, with additional storage room for smaller items below the floor. The rear seats fold down in a 40/20/40 configuration for added versatility. The test vehicle had optional load rails integrated into the floor with adjustable anchors to better secure loads, which I found to be a surprisingly useful feature for a high-end SUV.
Maserati Intelligent Assistant Offers Intuitive Infotainment
Brands such as Maserati, in my experience, can come up short regarding the infotainment interface, but this Italian automaker is part of the larger Stellantis group. That means the Maserati Intelligent Assistant (MIA) uses the latest Stellantis Uconnect technology.
Highlights of the Maserati Grecale's MIA infotainment system include a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a navigation system, Google's Alexa functionality, and voice-recognition technology. In addition, you can customize the system's display widgets to personal preferences.
I found MIA easy to set up and configure. You can choose to display all features with options to sort and categorize: A setup screen provides a list of all the features and then you simply choose which ones to display and the order in which they appear. The widgets can show a variety of information, ranging from what's playing through the high-end Sonus Faber audio system, the average fuel economy, navigation details and directions, and accessory gauge content. Setting up Android Auto I found to be likewise quick and straightforward.
With no physical controls, the primary interface is via the touchscreen or voice control. I was impressed with the infotainment system but not the voice-recognition technology. It is less advanced than the digital assistants I've used in BMW and Mercedes-Benz models, partly because it requires you to use specific phrases to achieve success.
Tracking Your Performance
Certain high-performance and off-road models from Stellantis have a feature that allows the driver to measure the vehicle's performance. I was surprised to see that this carries over to the Maserati Grecale. Even more surprising is that Maserati refers to this feature as Drag Race.
Drag racing is not typically associated with a Maserati SUV, so the name felt inappropriate to me. That said, the display can be fun to use, if not downright addictive. With the Drag Race page on the display, the driver can measure acceleration to 60 mph or 100 mph, plus track quarter-mile time and speed.
Running the Drag Race feature is simple. At a complete stop, the screen will show "Ready," and then all the driver has to do is mash their right foot down on the accelerator pedal. I tested the system on a freeway entrance ramp, and it was exciting to see exactly how quickly the Maserati accelerates.
Grecale Safety Features Are Smooth Operators
The 2023 Maserati Grecale comes standard with essential driver-assistance features such as forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking. However, advanced features require either an extra purchase on the base-level GT or an upgrade to one of the higher-level trims — or both.
My Trofeo test vehicle included adaptive cruise control, active blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist. I often turn off lane-keeping assist because many examples of this technology can be overly aggressive, making constant and sometimes abrupt steering corrections if the vehicle approaches the lane marker. However, the Grecale's smooth and subtle lane-keeping tech surprised me, gently vibrating the steering wheel to warn me of a lane departure and steering the SUV back toward the middle of the intended travel lane.
Heading out on I-94 west of Detroit, I set the adaptive cruise control at 70 mph in moderate traffic. The system worked well, smoothly decelerating when approaching a slower vehicle then steadily accelerating back to the selected speed after I changed lanes.
Turbo V6 Power
As the top-level trim in the Grecale lineup, the Trofeo has the most powerful engine. Derived from the powerplant in the Maserati MC20 sports car, the Nettuno twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine puts out 523 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard.
The Grecale Drives Like a Grand Touring Car
Especially in the Trofeo specification, the Grecale delivers the performance expected of a Maserati. The driving experience begins with a press of the start button on the steering wheel, resulting in a lovely, growling exhaust note that's especially pleasing when you've chosen Sport mode.
With plentiful power and all-wheel drive, the Grecale Trofeo gets moving quickly. Maserati reports it will reach 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and continue to a top speed of 177 mph (almost 185). While acceleration was swift on dry pavement, the Grecale's traction control was overzealous on wet roads, cutting power when detecting any wheel slippage. This unexpected loss of power was annoying and caused concern when I tried to accelerate across a busy two-lane road.
Exploring my favorite local back roads, which take me to Hell, Michigan, and back, the Grecale was an absolute joy to drive. Sport Mode not only makes the exhaust note richer but also improves powertrain response, tightens the steering, and stiffens the suspension. It is the ideal choice for pushing this SUV on a twisty road. In addition, the large Brembo brakes deliver strong stopping power that's easy to modulate for a smooth ride. Overall, the handling is impressive for a vehicle of this size.
Like a proper GT car, the Grecale Trofeo is just as good when cruising down the freeway. Changing the drive mode to Comfort, the suspension is noticeably more compliant, absorbing bumps in the road for a comfortable ride. Road noise is negligible, and I found it easy to ignore any noise with the excellent Sonus Faber premium audio system.
The EPA estimates the Maserati Grecale Trofeo's fuel economy at 18/25/20 mpg in city/highway/combined driving. While that highway figure is impressive for a powerful crossover SUV, I could not match it in real-life driving. During my time behind the wheel, the trip computer indicated an average of 16 mpg. Admittedly, the Grecale wants to go fast, which can harm fuel economy.
Luxury, Performance, and Exclusivity
Finding an SUV that can deliver luxury, performance, and exclusivity is challenging. The first two attributes are relatively common. However, since Maserati only sells a few thousand vehicles in the U.S. each year, a Grecale may stand out as something special.
Exclusivity aside, the Grecale's elegant styling, high-tech cabin, and generous cargo space let the vehicle hold its own against a list of competitors from luxury marques such as Audi, BMW, and Porsche. The turbocharged V6 engine brings impressive power, and the Grecale's all-wheel drive, suspension, steering, and brakes deliver excellent handling.
With a rich history of more than a century, Maserati holds a special place in many automotive enthusiasts' hearts. The new 2023 Grecale SUV may be a departure from this legendary brand's classic offerings, but with its style, elegance, and proper performance, I believe it deserves to wear that famed Trident logo on its grille.