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First Impression: The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Is Pretty Good

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author photo by Will Kinton December 2017

When Alfa Romeo announced they were coming out with an SUV, they knew how enthusiasts would react: "An Alfa Romeo SUV? They've lost their wayTM!" So Alfa assured us their SUV would be sporty and fun to drive. They even named it after the Stelvio Pass, a road famously called the best driving road in Europe by "Top Gear." But how does the Alfa Romeo Stelvio actually hold up?

First off, Alfa Romeo successfully imbibed their famous sportiness into the new SUV. The Stelvio has very quick, precise steering that's well-weighted; it encourages you to hustle the car a bit more in the corners than you would most compact crossovers, and it makes the Stelvio feel lighter than it actually is. It also comes standard with the 280-horsepower 4-cylinder turbo out of the base-level Guilia, which allows it to hustle when you want it to. It'll also stop when you want it to, with its standard Brembo front brakes. All in all, the Stelvio was actually fun to drive.

Inside, the car looks pretty good. I particularly like the shape of the steering wheel and the matte wood trim; it certainly looks the part of a luxury compact SUV. The seats were comfortable, the leather was nice and the car I drove came equipped with about $10,000 worth of goodies, including all-wheel drive, a Harmon Kardon sound system, a dual pane sunroof and driver-assistance features. One gripe was the infotainment system, which is a bit confusing, though it seems to work just fine. The Stelvio also looks pretty distinct from most other crossovers on the outside, which is a pretty bold move considering how staid most of its competitors look.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior

The one thing I really didn't like about the Stelvio was the shape of the trunk, which is a trend that unfortunately many other crossovers are beginning to follow. The Stelvio's rear roofline is so stylized and "aerodynamic" that it really takes away much of the utility you get with a rear hatch. While the cargo area is fairly deep, it's almost like a fastback with how shallow it is -- and that really takes away from the ability to carry larger items. I'd have preferred that they made the cargo space a bit more practical; it is, after all, a Crossover Utility Vehicle.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio cargo area

Trunk complaints aside, I think the Stelvio is representative of Alfa putting their best foot forward. It's a real alternative to the German luxury CUVs, and I think it should do well. People really should add it to the list if they're shopping in the segment -- with the only major concern being reliability and dependability, given it's Alfa's first crossover, and it's their first few years really "back" in the United States after a long hiatus.

As for the upcoming Stelvio Quadrifoglio, it'll have 505 horsepower -- and I fully expect it to be downright raucous.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
First Impression: The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Is Pretty Good - Autotrader