You know SUVs are hot when even Alfa Romeo gets into the game after building nothing but cars for 105 years. So here is the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti. In case you wonder, this crossover is named after Stelvio Pass, a super-curvy road high in the Italian Alps.
This is a compact crossover SUV intended to compete with the likes of the Jaguar F-Pace, the BMW X3, and Audi Q5, although to me it is slightly smaller than those.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Alfa’s V-shaped front end, but there is no mistaking what it is. Underneath the SUV body, you’ll find all the underpinnings and power train of the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
Under the hood, you find an all-aluminum turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that is putting out 280-horses and 306 pound-feet of torque, very impressive for a 4-banger. It comes with an 8-speed automatic that features the same fixed shift paddles that I just saw in the Maserati Levante. By the way, Fiat Chrysler owns Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Ferrari.
Underneath the SUV body, you’ll find all the underpinnings and power train of the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
All Stelvios have the Q4 all-wheel drive system that is rear-biased, meaning the power goes to the rear wheels unless the all-wheel system is engaged, then it can shift 60% of the power to the front wheels.
If you want to step up to more power, there is also a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 that puts out 505-horses and is one of the fastest SUVs on the road.
Alfa calls the Stelvio a compact luxury SUV, but I was immediately turned off when I sat down behind the wheel. The seats were fine, although a little hard to adjust to get comfortable, but there are more hard plastic surfaces than I’ve seen in a long time. Nothing is soft to the touch, including the entire dashboard. With no offense to Kia, that’s what it reminds me of. That is not what I call luxury.
The steering wheel is small and has a flat bottom with controls for the sound system and cruise control. It also has a Ferrari-like start button mounted on it.
In the middle of the gauge cluster is a driver information center. The center console has a couple of drink holders, the gear shifter, a knob to control the 8.8” infotainment screen, and a knob to change the drive modes. The drives modes are marked DNA- Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency.
The infotainment screen is where you control the radio, Bluetooth, navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you can change the car’s settings. I hate to say it, but this is one of the least intuitive and cumbersome systems I have ever experienced.
There is a 40/20/40 split rear seat that folds down for additional cargo area. Alfa calls this a 5-passenger SUV, but really the back seat is only going to fit two regular sized adults. Cargo area is just over 19 cubic feet, about average for SUVs in this class.
The Stelvio comes nicely equipped with a good number of standard features including backup camera, parking sensors, leather seats, power lift gate, remote start, and dual exhaust.
My tester has $6300 in options, including the Sport package which costs $2500 and includes 20” wheels, colored brake calipers, the paddle shifters, aluminum foot pedals, and a sport-tuned suspension.
Other options include the dual-pane panoramic sun roof, navigation system, a Harmon Cardon sound system, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.
The Stelvio is a mixed bag for me. Some things are great, others are not.
Although there are a number of things I don’t like about the Stelvio, the driving dynamics are actually quite good. You get a slight turbo lag, but that’s normal when you are getting close to 300-horses out of a 4-cylinder.
Honestly, I can’t tell all that much difference between Dynamic and Natural drive modes, but the handling is quite sports car-like. It is also quiet inside.
Another issue is the rear window is very small and provides poor rear visibility. Also, the front parking sensors are extremely annoying, when you park close to something, it keeps going off even when you are in park. Lastly, I find the Stelvio way overpriced.
Fuel economy is actually good at 22 in town and 28 out on the highway. Total MSRP on this particular Stelvio is $53,840.
As you can tell, the Stelvio is a mixed bag for me. Some things are great, others are not. In summary, it is at the dead bottom of my list of luxury compact SUVs.
Photo Credit: Alfa Romeo