New SUV

2022 Levante Hybrid joins Ghibli Hybrid in electrified Maserati lineup

The 2022 Maserati Levante Hybrid make its world debut today.

Photo courtesy of Maserati

Maserati's best-selling vehicle is getting a hybrid variant. The 2022 Maserati Levante Hybrid made its debut in China this week continuing the hybrid story fo the brand that started with the Ghibli Hybrid.

The luxury automaker will be using the tagline "Faster. Greener. Unique." to describe the new SUV, which joins the Levante, Levante GranLusso, Levante GranSport, Levante S. Levante S GranLusso, Levante S GranSport, Levante GTS, and Levante Troefo grade options in the stable.

Designed to adhere to the same standards of performance as current Maserati vehicles, the hybrid SUV retains the distinctive exhaust note of current Trident brand vehicles but adds in more fuel-efficient performance.

2022 Maserati Levante Hybrid

2022 Maserati Levante Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Maserati

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The Levante Hybrid's power comes from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood that is paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that allows the SUV to recover energy when decelerating and braking. This power plant allows the car to weigh less than the six-cylinder Levante and allows for better weight distribution, playing into the car's nimble driving dynamics. Its battery is placed in the rear.

Power output maxes out at 330 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. Maserati limits the car to just over 149 mph. The Levante Hybrid can get from zero to 62 mph in six seconds.

A special edition of the car, the Levante Hybrid launch edition, features a new metallic tri-coat colour called Azzurro Astro that is available as part of the company's customization program, Maserati Fuoriserie.

The model also gets blue highlighted exterior accents on the side air ducts, brake calipers, and C-pillar logo that are similar to what is on the Ghibli Hybrid. The same blue carries over to the embroidered seams of the seats.

The SUV is available as part of the Maserati Connect program that allows a smartphone app to alert the driver when a service is due and allow them to stay in touch with their car via Amazon Alexa and Google Assist.

Pricing for the Maserati Levante starts around $75,000. The Levante Hybrid is expected to be valued far higher than that MSRP.

Maserati recently announced that footballer David Beckham is the company's new brand ambassador.

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The Sakura is Nissan's newest EV.

Nissan

It's no secret that the Japanese get all manner of quirky, cool cars that we don't see here in the States. Sure, there's the Nissan Skyline and Mitsubishi Delica van, but tiny vehicles like kei cars and "minivehicles" are popular imports for Americans looking to diversify their drives. Pint-sized kei cars are ripe for electrification, and Nissan did just that with its new Sakura EV, which comes almost a year after the automaker announced it was working with Mitsubishi to develop tiny electric models. It's one of dozens of new EVs slated to come from the Mitsubishi-Nissan-Renaul Alliance this decade.

Though tiny, the Sakura offers a decent top speed of 80 mph, and its range of around 112 miles could make it an ideal urban runabout for many. That said, there's little chance the car will come to the United States. Japan's minivehicles and kei cars are far smaller than anything currently on sale here. For example, the Sakura's 133.6-inch length makes it almost 18 inches shorter than a Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback, a car that Americans would consider minuscule.

Nissan SakuraThe Sakura borrows features from the Nissan Leaf, including its battery.Nissan

Nissan borrowed the Sakura's 20-kWh battery from the Leaf and says it can be used to provide power for external devices or even power a home for up to a day. The car comes with three driving modes to change the behavior of things like regenerative braking and throttle response, and Nissan says it took further guidance from the Leaf to give the Sakura the quietest cabin in its class.

The Sakura's upright shape likely helps with headroom, but it certainly doesn't increase cargo space, as Nissan claims just 107 liters (4 cubic feet) of room. That said, the car features small-item storage spaces for gear like a smartphone or wallet. Buyers can opt for black, beige, or blue-grey interior colors, and an upgrade package is available that brings a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

There are a surprising number of features packed into the minute Nissan's cabin. A 7-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard, and a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. Nissan says the car's displays are oriented to reduce distraction and keep the driver's eyes on the road, and ProPilot safety systems are standard, including a new parking assist feature. ProPilot is a stepping stone toward Nissan's goal of debuting autonomous driving tech by 2030.

Nissan SakuraThe Sakura isn't destined for the U.S. - yet, anyway. Nissan

The Sakura goes on sale in Japan this summer. It's priced at 1.78 million yen, or around $14,000. The car will be available for purchase online, and Nissan says it will offer video chats and other resources to help buyers with the process. Buyers will be able to opt for a full in-person buying experience, a completely virtual experience, or anything in between.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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