What is it: Alfa Romeo's first SUV, the Stelvio rides on the same platform as the Italian brand's outstanding Giulia sedan. Given America's insatiable appetite for tall, AWD vehicles, the Stelvio is expected to quickly become Alfa's best-seller.
Key Competitors: Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC-Class, Jaguar F-Pace
Base Price: $44,990 As-Tested Price: $56,090
Full Review: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio first drive
Highlights: With its subtle wood veneer and deftly integrated infotainment screen, the loaded Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Lusso gets a dash of unmistakably Italian fashion. A willing turbocharged four-cylinder engine and some of the sharpest steering this side of a racetrack help Alfa's ute prove itself a properly honed tool for the enthusiast driver.
Our Opinion: The Stelvio marks twice in two weeks that I've approached a brand's first SUV/crossover with extreme skepticism, yet come out the other side thoroughly impressed. The other? A Bentley Bentayga V8, the sledgehammer opposite of Alfa's light, peaky Stelvio scalpel. In the case of the Bentley, as good as the Bentayga is I'd much rather have a Continental GT. The advantages of Alfa's Giulia vs. the Stelvio are far narrower, to the point that the SUV's extra cargo flexibility and ride height when navigating the sea of half-ton pickups on the road may actually render it preferable to the sedan. Heresy, I know, but there it is.
As I mentioned in my earlier notes on the Giulia Ti sedan, Alfa Romeo has both an advantage and a disadvantage with me: I own two older Alfas, so I'm predisposed toward the marque, yet I'm also familiar with the brand's vintage greatness, meaning the modern products have to live up to my nostalgia-tinged affection for their forebears. The Stelvio pulls this trick off with its high-revving, torquey turbo-four, which feels better-matched to the eight-speed automatic here than in the Giulia. There's less rubberbanding in low-speed traffic, and response is near-instantaneous. Braking power is superb, and the hyperactive steering reacts instantly — almost too quickly until you get accustomed to it. The 12:1 ratio — vs. the roughly 15:1 (though it varies) of the competition — will put you right into the curb if you steer it like a Buick. Properly wielded, though, you'll be slicing apexes like Lewis Hamilton on your favorite mountain road.
The only flaw I can really comment upon is that our loaded Lusso tester is priced overlapping the territory of 'utes with more power and better specs — namely the Audi SQ5 and Mercedes-AMG GLC 43. Granted, the Stelvio is all-in at that price while the Germans are just getting started, and Alfa buyers are far more likely to land somewhere in the mid-$40K range for a nicely equipped SUV. That makes the Stelvio an appealing proposition indeed.
—Andrew Stoy, digital editor
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $44,990
As Tested Price: $56,090
Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, AWD eight-speed automatic
Output: 280 hp @ 5,200 rpm; 306 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,044 lb
Fuel Economy: 22/28/24 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Gorgeous, lovely to drive; you won’t see yourself at every light
Cons: In high-end Ti Lusso trim, getting into Audi SQ5/Porsche Macan territory