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2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Alfa Romeo Stelvio, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review

How does a carmaker known for breathtaking styling and racetrack performance do a crossover? The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is how. You begin with one of the world’s most dynamic performance sedans, the Giulia, pen it as a two-box body style, make it taller and, tah dah, you’ve got yourself one honey of a performance luxury crossover.

A bit more went into it than that, but you get the picture. Market realities made the crossover-no-crossover question a no-brainer for this storied Italian maker of elegant passenger cars and top-finishing race cars. In today’s automotive marketplace, trying to turn a profit without a crossover in the lineup is like trying to field an NFL team without a quarterback. Because creating a crossover was uncharted territory for Alfa Romeo, it did the only thing it knows how to do — build a high-performance, beautifully styled vehicle.

The even higher-performance 505-horsepower Stelvio Quadrifoglio will arrive early next year. In the meantime, though, the Stelvio and Stelvio Ti comprise the lineup.

We can debate all day long over the public’s appetite for a stylish Italian crossover with a racing pedigree. In the end, the marketplace will provide the answer. All we can say is, for now, we’re happy it’s here.

What’s New for 2018?

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is all-new. See the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio models for sale near you

What We Like

Class-leading performance numbers; fuel economy; sedanlike feel; historic front-end styling; well-appointed cabin

What We Don’t

Big honking paddle shifters on Sport trim

How Much?

$42,990-$44,990

Fuel Economy

Most of us would never guess from simply driving the Stelvio that its jackrabbit acceleration comes from a four-banger. Alfa uses the same 280-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission in the Stelvio and Stelvio Ti that it employs in the Giulia and Giulia Ti. Although the Stelvio tips the scales at roughly 400 pounds more than Giulia, it still gets up and scats with little urging. Its 306 lb-ft of peak torque provides plenty of thrust at launch. Its flat torque curve delivers early and just keeps on giving. By Alfa’s stopwatch, the Stelvio springs from a complete stop to 60 miles per hour in just 5.4 seconds, with a top speed of 144 mph. This 0-to-60 time, as well as the horsepower and torque numbers, are class-leading.

A passel of aluminum and even a carbon-fiber drive shaft help save weight. The AWD system is full-time, but, under ultimate driving conditions, 100 percent of power goes to the rear wheels, with as much as 60 percent earmarked to be shifted to the front when wheel slippage occurs. Government estimates peg fuel economy at a class-leading 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Standard Features & Options

Alfa offers Stelvio in two grades with several option packages.

The base Stelvio ($42,990) comes out of the box with 18-inch aluminum wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Forward Lighting, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, full power accessories, leather seating, 10-way power front seats with driver’s-seat memory, a leather-wrapped flat-bottom 3-spoke steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, steering-wheel-mounted push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity, 6.5-in color touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, rear-parking sensors, a power lift gate, 4 USB ports, rain-sensing wipers and an 8-speaker audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Stand-alone options include a panoramic sunroof, a headlight washer, a 8.8-in display with navigation, satellite radio and 14-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound audio system. Available option packages: the Sport package, with 19-in aluminum wheels, black roof rails, painted brake calipers, aluminum accents and sport pedals, steering-column-mounted paddle shifters and a sport-tuned suspension; the Driver Assistance Static package, with front-parking assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and auto-dimming outboard mirrors; the Driver Assistance Dynamic Plus package with adaptive cruise control with full stop, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and automatic high beams.

The Stelvio Ti ($44,990) builds on the base Stelvio with 19-in 10-spoke aluminum wheels, dark gray wood cabin accents, an 8.8-in color display, satellite radio capability, heated front seats and front-park assist. Option packages include the Ti Performance package with active suspension, a mechanical limited-slip differential and aluminum column-mounted paddle shifters; the Sport package, with 20-in aluminum wheels, black roof rails, painted brake calipers, aluminum accents and sport pedals, steering-column-mounted paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension, premium leather seats and 12-way power front seats; the Lusso package, with upgraded leather seats, 12-way power front seats, wood accents, a leather-wrapped dash and steering wheel with contrast stitching, and aluminum pedals; the similarly contented Driver Assistance packages are available on the base grade.

Safety

Neither the government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the Stelvio. In addition to the usual six airbags found in most vehicles, the Stelvio also provides knee airbags for both front-seat positions. Rear-parking assist is standard in all grades and front-parking assist is standard in the Ti. Available safety technology includes adaptive cruise control with full stop, forward-collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high beams.

Behind the Wheel

Alfa may not have bred the Stelvio for the racetrack, but it can certainly attack a curve. Possessed of a nearly ideal 50/50 front/rear weight balance, it remains poised and stable when taking on the mountain switchbacks. The steering is quick, providing just the right amount of load as you pick up speed. Twist the DNA mode selector to Dynamic and the upshifts come so fast and hard it almost makes your head swim. You won’t be doing any hardcore off-roading; the Stelvio’s Q4 AWD system isn’t engineered for tasks more challenging than slippery pavement, and maybe some dirt and gravel. The Brembo brakes (4-piston front/2-piston rear) are well modulated and bring the Stelvio to a controlled stop, even when braking hard.

Exactly what you would hope the cabin of an Italian luxury vehicle would be, the Stelvio interior is elegant and functional. Pony up the extra cash for the Ti Sport and settle into one of the best sport seats in the industry.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 BMW X3 — Offering an array of strong performing engines, the X3 is in the top tier of compact sporty luxury crossovers. Sure, it’s a bit on the expensive side, but five minutes behind the wheel and you’ll forget the price.

2018 Audi Q5 — Audi demonstrates its talent for interior styling and craftsmanship in the Q5, which is redesigned for 2018. It now rides on the A4 platform, translating into a smoother ride. There’s more driver-assist/safety technology, too.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Based on the C-Class, the GLC is sort of the middle-of-the-road or baby-bear entry in the small luxury category. It’s not too anything, but just right in most areas.

2018 Jaguar F-PACE Three engine choices for 2018, including a new 4-cylinder, give this crossover broad appeal among the compact luxury audience. A 6-trim pecking order provides plenty of choices in determining standard equipment and price.

Autotrader’s Advice

We’d be pretty happy with the base Stelvio plus the two Driver Assistance packages, which would add $2,150 to the bottom line. There really isn’t a lot of daylight between the prices of these two grades. Once you get past 40 grand, does a thousand here or there make much difference? Find an Alfa Romeo Stelvio for sale

 

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