Car comparison: Which flashy SUV is best for you?

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a five-part series comparing a range of cars during what can be prime season for car buyers.

WASHINGTON — If your budget is big enough, compromises are no longer necessary when picking a ride. Multiple brands now offer to combine the performance of a two-door sports car — amazingly — with the cargo space and bad-weather capabilities of a four-wheel drive truck.

Whether end-of-year car shopping has taken you upscale, or you’d just like to gawk at some amazing machines, we’re comparing three SUVs-on-steroids — all from the horsepower-enablers under the Fiat Chrysler umbrella: the Maserati Levante GTS, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

Maserati Levante GTS

Starting at $119,980

Pros: “It is about luxury,” says Maserati’s Alvin Bond, after noting the leather-stuffed Levante also has a 550 horsepower twin-turbo V8. Accelerating sent our dash-camera flying backwards.

Cons: The Levante’s dapper presentation can lull you into a false sense of security that gets shattered with one stab of the gas pedal. There’s enough power to make both ends of the SUV tremble while accelerating. It takes a bit of effort to dial up the Ferrari-tuned engine note. You might get nasty looks from purists who believe a Maserati SUV is the latest sign of societal collapse.

(WTOP/John Aaron)

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Starting at $79,995

Pros: “It is the fastest SUV on the planet,” says Alfa Romeo’s Berj Alexanian, citing its performance at Germany’s Nürburgring race track. “It’s for the person that maybe had a two-door sports car and now they’ve got a family.” The interior, with the same mix of Alcantara and carbon fiber accents found in high-end sports cars, lets you know immediately that this machine is ready for some shenanigans.

Cons: This dialed-in, track focused SUV could be a bit harsh for those who want more comfort in their daily driver. Survivability from a Beltway pothole impact: unknown.

(WTOP/John Aaron)

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

$96,525 as tested

Pros: The Trackhawk features a previously unheard of 707 horsepower engine in a SUV. That’s the equivalent of joining together nearly 4½ engines from the base jeep Renegade, and it’s more than twice the output of the base Grand Cherokee engine. Four-wheel drive means the power can be put to the pavement without excessive wheel spin.

Cons: It could also have been named the Grand Cherokee Tooth Chipper or the Grand Cherokee Stomach Pit Finder; it should come with an intravenous Dramamine supply. Plus, it gets 11 miles per gallon city, 17 highway. In what must be some sort of sick joke, it has an “eco” button.

(WTOP/John Aaron)

Pick: The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Not only is it a phenomenal all-around performer – it can even do some substantial towing with the right package – but its looks may also be stealthy enough to avoid unwanted attention.

(WTOP/John Aaron)


Part 1: 3-row SUVs

Part 2: Hatchbacks

Part 3: Family cars

Part 4: Muscle cars

Part 5: Flashy SUVs

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up