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- Highs Exotic styling, superb handling, impressive list of standard features.
- Lows Unproven powertrain, limited cargo space, interior quality substandard for the luxury class.
- Verdict The Stelvio offers a superb driving experience, exotic styling, and standard all-wheel drive, but the cramped interior might be an issue for some buyers.
Forged from the fires of Italy and sent overseas to satiate the appetites of crossover-crazed Americans, the Stelvio manages to be both fascinating to behold and entertaining to drive. Its exotic styling and ethereal handling separate it from most competitors. While Alfa Romeo seeks to erase its reputation for poor reliability, the Stelvio’s unproven powertrain and questionable build quality remain red flags. Still, the Italian crossover has impressive standard features and outstanding performance that put revered rivals in its crosshairs. Svelte and swift, the Stelvio is exceptionally pleasing to look at and—more important to us—to drive.
What's New for 2018?
One year after Alfa Romeo successfully introduced the Giulia sedan to Americans, the company enters the competitive crossover market with the beautiful Stelvio. Named after one of the most famous driving roads in the world (Italy’s tortuously curvy Stelvio Pass), it shares a platform and powertrain with the 10Best Cars–winning Giulia. The crossover is built with an extensive use of aluminum to keep weight down. Along with standard all-wheel drive and other desirable features, the Stelvio lineup includes sporty and luxury models. The high-powered Quadrifoglio is reviewed separately, thanks to its 505-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 and premium price.
- Stelvio AWD: $43,490
- Stelvio Ti AWD: $45,290
- Stelvio Sport AWD: $45,290
- Stelvio Ti Sport AWD: $47,990
- Stelvio Ti Lusso AWD: $47,990
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Stelvio’s turbocharged four-cylinder sends a hearty 280 hp through an eight-speed automatic transmission. While this powertrain was effortlessly quick and sounded great, the Stelvio’s sole powertrain setup—aside from the high-performance Quadrifoglio—eliminates choices for the buyer and limits towing to a maximum of 3000 pounds. In addition to its beautiful design, the Stelvio boasts athletic handling and a compliant ride. Its sophisticated powertrain responds with gusto, while its chassis effortlessly transitions from docile cruiser to adroit canyon carver. For a stronger dose of Stelvio performance, ask your doctor about the 505-hp Quadrifoglio version. The same standard powertrain is also found in the 10Best Cars–winning Alfa Romeo Giulia. However, only the sedan is currently available with rear-wheel drive. Interestingly, the heavier all-wheel-drive crossover was quicker than the rear-drive sedan in our acceleration tests. Powertrain traits such as throttle response and shift points are modified depending on which of the three drive modes—Dynamic, Natural, and Adaptive (DNA, as Alfa calls it)—is selected, and the transmission constantly adapted to our driving style, shifting itself accordingly. While all models wear all-season tires and feature those selectable drive modes, our Ti Sport test vehicle also included sport-tuned suspension and a limited-slip rear differential. Even with its 20-inch wheels, our Stelvio provided sufficient isolation from all but the harshest bumps. While its maximum cornering grip was similar to many rivals, the Alfa is the alpha dog when it comes to driving engagement. The chassis, which is shared with the Giulia sedan, had damping that was composed and comfortable. Although the Stelvio’s steering isn’t as sharp as the Giulia’s, its light effort and quick responses were still exceptional—especially for a crossover.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the "Compare Side-by-Side" tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
As stunning as the Stelvio looks at the curb and in motion, its interior lacks the quality expected in this class of luxury compact crossovers. Although its quiet cabin features comfortable leather seats and desirable options, the Stelvio's cabin is on the small side for the class. The front seats on our Stelvio Ti Sport were snug and supportive, but they may not fit all body types. Likewise, climbing out of the front seat was made difficult by the stiff side bolsters. The back seat has significantly less legroom than rivals—and even the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan—but thankfully it’s not painfully tight. The Stelvio’s interior has some unique elements but several unsophisticated pieces. The worst bits were our test car’s cheap-looking electronic shifter and unlovely upper dashpad that resembled spray-painted Styrofoam. This aesthetic clashed with the otherwise attractive leather seats and handsome aluminum accents on the dash, doors, and center console. Still, we questioned the interior’s overall quality after the power-adjustable driver’s seat trembled at sections on its tracks, and the rear seat’s back cushion wiggled when we moved back and forth. The Stelvio has some useful storage tricks up its Italian sleeve, but with a small cargo area behind the rear seats, it’s not the most capacious crossover in this class. The Stelvio’s biggest drawback is its maximum luggage capacity, which—while generally competitive among small SUVs—trailed those of the Cadillac XT5 and Jaguar F-Pace by several carry-ons.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The standard 6.5-inch screen is located in the same spot as the available 8.8-inch unit and is surrounded by the same oddly shaped black bezel. We’ve only spent time with the larger screen, which is standard on all Stelvios except the base trim. Even though it lacked extensive personalization settings, the menus were attractive and easy to navigate. A 115-volt auxiliary power outlet is located in the cargo area as part of the $200 Convenience package. Alfa Romeo makes its premium Harman/Kardon audio system available for $900. But it’s not standard even on the top model, which means buyers will have to pony up the extra cash if they want the better system. While Alfa Romeo is owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Italian company uses its own infotainment software instead of the excellent Uconnect system that is used in other FCA products. Alfa’s interface—the unimaginatively named Information and Entertainment System—was slower to respond than popular smartphones and took too long to react to voice commands and navigation routes. Touchscreen functions were not missed in our testing because of how well the standard rotary controller worked.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
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