Class: Premium Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 259
Fuel used: 13.0 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 19.9 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/28/24 (city, highway, combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||C+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Base price: $41,995 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($600), Cold Weather Package ($795), Convenience Package ($200), Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package ($1500), Driver Assist Static with Front Sensors Package ($800), Dual-Pane Sunroof ($1350), 8.8-inch AM/FM/HD Bluetooth Radio with Navigation ($1550), Harmon Kardon Premium Audio ($900), satellite radio ($350), 19-inch Dark 5-Hole Aluminum Wheels ($750), Aluminum Interior Accents ($300), Gloss Yellow Brake Calipers w/ Black Script ($350)
Price as tested: $52,435
The great: Sporty, agile driving personality; eager powertrain
The good: Eye-catching styling inside and out
The not so good: Control-layout oddities, unestablished reputation of the Alfa Romeo brand
Some years ago, your humble scribe stared into his navel and pondered one of mankind’s great questions: Why were there sporty sport-utility vehicles?
Such things seemed like a huge compromise. Weight, shape, and center of gravity that are part and parcel of the usual SUV ought to hamper performance. Street-friendly low-profile tires, big alloy wheels, and rapid-firing gobs of horsepower—all fine for a sport sedan—should work against off-road capability. On top of it all, they cost a lot.
After much contemplation of the matter, an important truth finally revealed itself, and that was nobody gave much of a damn for me, my navel, or the great question. High-perf SUVs just kept on coming, and so, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.
Alfa’s debut premium compact-crossover SUV comes a number of ways, rising all the way up to a 505-horsepower Quadrifoglio version that is a true muscle sport-ute. The Stelvio that Consumer Guide® editors most recently drove was the base model with considerably less horsepower, but even it is tuned to be an extremely engaging handler.
The powerteam in all Stelvios but the Quadrifoglio consists of a 280-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine can delay for a beat when called upon to zip away from a stop—and it can be a little rough-sounding in the process—but the turbo mill provides good power overall for merging or highway cruising, and the transmission kicks down in timely fashion. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates this combination at 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 combined. When this tester drove the Stelvio for 88.2 miles, he saw just 19.59 mpg with 56 percent city-type operation.
Alfa equips the Stelvio with selectable drive modes it calls DNA for “Dynamic,” which perceptibly heightens throttle response; default “Natural;” and “Advanced Efficiency,” which enables gas-saving cylinder deactivation. Also standard is all-wheel drive.
Better yet is a nicely balanced chassis that springs from the Giulia sedan. Steering is quick and direct—this reviewer was surprised to find the vehicle starting to get a little sideways in a fairly low-speed but fully articulated 90-degree right-hand turn from a side street—and Dynamic mode modifies brake and steering response. Body lean is well managed in cornering and highway lane changes. Meanwhile, ride remained pleasingly composed and quiet over well-worn urban expressways.
At 66 inches high, the Stelvio features a roofline that’s somewhat low for an SUV. Thus, headroom is hardly class leading up front, and it becomes dearer in back. Front passengers will find decent legroom. The rear seat isn’t bad either—unless front passengers are tall enough to need to track their seats far back. Practical rear-seat adult capacity is two. The sloping roof takes a toll on driver vision to the rear corners, and the straight-back view through the tailgate isn’t especially tall.
Cargo loads at bumper height onto a good-sized flat floor. The 40/20/40-split rear seat backs fold just about level with the floor for added space, and there’s quite of bit of hidden storage under the cargo floor. The test vehicle was equipped with optional floor rails in which run adjustable tie-downs. Between them is a cargo-floor panel that rests loose between the rails, without being locked down when in place.
Stelvio prices are competitive with other luxury-brand small SUVs. The base model in CG’s test began at $41,995 (though the final price with a big load of options and delivery came to $52,435). Unlike some in the segment, it comes with standard leather upholstery. Other built-ins include 6-way power front seats with 4-way lumbar adjustment, a flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, dual-zone climate control, 7-inch thin-film transistor driver-information display, 8-speaker AM/FM/HD Bluetooth radio, rearview camera, rear obstacle detection, keyless access and starting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote start, rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a power liftgate. The test car was without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a feature reportedly coming during the model year.
Options—either individual or in packages—added things like adaptive forward-collision warning (with a tone guaranteed to get and keep your attention) and mitigation, lane-departure warning, blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel, satellite radio, 19-inch wheels, and a dual-pane sunroof. There was also an audio-system upgrade with navigation and a larger 8.8-inch display screen. Unfortunately, whichever audio system is included, it is managed by a central dial on the console that requires attention-consuming hand-eye work in conjunction with the display screen, and audio-preset set-up and operation is nowhere near logical or intuitive—and the owner’s manual is of no help. Frankly, based on experiences with a few high-end European vehicles of late, this seems to be a trend that is sweeping the Continent, but it’s truly ironic to see a vehicle from the same country that produced the father of wireless communication screw up a car radio. Guglielmo Marconi must be spinning in his grave.
The climate controls are somewhat more straightforward to use. Rotary dials govern temperature and fan speed; buttons for other functions are interspersed between the dials. The interior delivers ample evidence of soft-touch surfaces on the dashboard and all door panels. Interior storage is good but not great. The glove box, console box, and map pockets in the doors are all quite small—though front cup holders covered by a sliding door in the console and a drop-down bin on the left side of the dash are nice details. Rear-seat storage includes net pouches on the backs of the front seats and cup holders in the pull-down center armrest.
Having only recently ended its long hiatus from the U.S. market, Alfa Romeo still has work to do to reliably reestablish its credentials with buyers of upscale vehicles. At least it now has a fun-to-drive entry in a rapidly expanding market segment, and nobody needs to wonder why.