Class: Premium Subcompact Crossover
Passenger capacity: 5
Color: Misano Blue Metallic
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|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|
|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.|
|Engine Specs||285-hp 1.3L|
|Engine Type||Turbocharged 4-cyl plug-in hybrid|
Miles driven: 138
Real-world fuel economy: 38.4 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 77 MPGe/29 mpg (city/highway combined)
EPA-estimated EV range: 33 miles
Fuel type: Premium gasoline recommended
Base price: $47,495 (not including $1595 destination charge)
Options: Special paint ($660), Customer Preferred Package ($2500), Active Assist Advanced Package ($2000),
Price as tested: $63,690
The great: Swanky looks, sporty character
The good: Excellent average fuel economy when regularly charged, high-end cabin decor
The not so good: Crude drivetrain, pricey in Veloce trim
Did you know that until recently Harley-Davidson sold—or more correctly licensed—women’s perfume? We have no idea what motor-cycle scented eau de toilette might smell like, but in the case of a Harley-Davidson aroma, we image it’s likely evocative of leather and oil leaks.
Harley took a chance lending its historically significant brand to products outside of its core business, but given that the company has been slapping its name on clothes and bike accessories for years, the perfume thing isn’t that big of a leap—even if it is transparently a money grab. And, we would argue, waters down the brand.
While the Harley-Davidson perfume venture is something of an extreme example of brand extension, we mention it because something similar is happening with Stellantis luxury brands. For 2024, both Alfa Romeo and Maserati are adding new models which, in both cases, lower the access-point price to the specific brands by a considerable margin.
The 2024 Grecale starts around $70,000, making it the least-expensive U.S.-market Maserati model by almost $40,000. The compact crossover is due in showrooms soon, and will almost certainly become the brand’s best-selling model.
Likewise, the Tonale small crossover is being added to the Alfa Romeo lineup later this year, and like the Grecale, lowers significantly the entry-level price of an Alfa crossover. At around $44,000, the base Tonale is about the same price as the brand’s Giulia small sedan, but almost $5000 less expensive than the compact Stelvio crossover. And, in the crossover-crazy U.S. market, the budget-friendlier Tonale is likely to lure new customers into Alfa Romeo showrooms.
Her’s the rub, though: While the Maserati Grecale is based on the Stellantis premium Georgio platform—shared with vehicles including the Maserati Gran Turismo, the Tonale is based on humbler architecture. Alfa’s newest model is based on the Stellantis “Small Wide” platform shared with the Jeep Compass and new Dodge Hornet small crossovers. In fact, Tonale is built alongside the Hornet at a factory in Italy.
This leads us to ask, is the Tonale a true Alfa, or a price-leader crossover that, at least to some extent, diminishes the Alfa Romeo ownership experience? Here’s our take:
Consumer Guide recently spent a week with a 2024 Tonale Veloce EAWD in Misano Blue Metallic. The color, a $660 option, scored us more compliments and thumbs up than we cared to tally. Suffice it to say, Misano Blue is a crowd pleaser.
For its inaugural model year, the Tonale is offered in three trim levels: Sprint (about $44,000), Ti ($47,000), and Veloce ($51,000). All three trims come with standard AWD and share a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Power comes from a 1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cyinder engine mated to an electric motor for a combined 285 horsepower. A 6-speed automatic is the only transmission available. A 15.5-kWh battery, when fully charged, provides an EPA-estimated 33 miles of range. Fuel economy comes in at an EPA-estimated combined 29 mpg.
Interestingly, the mechanically similar Dodge Hornet is offered with two drivetrains: a standard 265-horse 2.0-turbocharged 4-cylinder in addition to the Tonale’s plug-in hybrid powertrain. Note that the hybrid drivetrain comes online for the Hornet some time in 2024.
Inside, the Tonale comes off convincingly as a premium vehicle, with plenty of high-quality materials in play, and a generally stylish layout. There is a fair amount of low-buck hard plastic to be found, but mostly on the sides of the console and on lower door panels, none of which is visible from the driver’s seat.
Tonale still employs a traditional instrument panel, which is fine. The digital cluster is driver configurable and is easy to read in most lighting conditions. Infotainment and control access is via a relatively large dashtop tablet-style touchscreen. We found that the most-used systems were easy to locate and operate, and that the screen was general easy to read. Premium Harman-Kardon-brand audio comes as part of the $2500 Customer Preferred Package and we found it up to the task of serving up the mid-century American jazz favored by this editor.
As for true Alfa Romeo character, it’s what happens underway that matters most, and it is underway that the Tonale is something of a mixed bag. Tonale is most impressive while in electric mode. Power is served up smoothly, and acceleration from a stop is snappy and strong. At odds with traditional Alfa Romeo powertrains, the electric motor is eerily silent, with engine noise replaced by muffled road and traffic sounds. It’s a strange experience to the uninitiated, but the performance is noteworthy.
Sadly, even a fully charge battery eventually runs dry, and in the case of the Tonale, this means the gas engine kicks in, and it does so with raucous fury. Though the plug-in hybrid powertrain combines for 285 horsepower—which sounds compelling—the system is generally crude in operation, and produces sounds quite unlike the mechanically refined engines found in pricier Alfa Romeo models.
From a stop, once the battery is depleted, the Tonale lurches forward and delivers power in an erratic and unprogressive manner. The interplay between the hybrid system and gas engine is clunky at best, and unbecoming a sporty premium Italian crossover. That said, the Tonale is quick when the throttle is fully depressed.
Handling is better, though not outstanding by sporty European crossover standards. The Tonale’s “d.n.a.” Dynamic Mode system serves up three drive settings: Dynamic, Normal, and Advanced Efficiency. While the Dynamic Mode does tighten up steering feel and transmission responsiveness, and generally imbues Tonale with a sportier character, we found the Normal Model more in step with our daily commuting-drive expectations. The Advanced Efficiency Mode seemed to do little but dull throttle response.
That said, the Tonale is light on its feet and generally fun to drive aggressively. We found the vehicle prone to plowing/leaning excessively in fast corners at low speed. This isn’t a problem, but unexpected from a vehicle with sporty aspirations.
But for all of its vices—most of which are associated with the drivetrain—Tonale does look the part of an entry-level Alfa. Few small crossovers evaluated by Consumer Guide have garnered more compliments, and as we noted earlier, the color of our test Alfa proved popular.
For the most part, Tonale plays the part of entry-level luxury Italian crossover pretty well. It looks the part, but its lack of mechanical sophistication is a serious shortcoming. For shoppers already in the Alfa Romeo fold, the Tonale will likely disappoint. However premium crossover shoppers moving up from something more mainstream may see the value here, and never miss the performance. Yes, Alfa has compromised some of its brand character to move the marque down market a notch, but its’ not like they’ve started selling Alfa Romeo perfume.
2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce Gallery
Click below for enlarged images