Jump in the passenger seat of the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio as Senior Writer Carlos Lago test-drives Alfa Romeo's new luxury compact SUV in Nashville. Watch the video to find out if this unique-looking all-wheel-drive compact SUV, equipped with a 280-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, lives up to its sporty name.
CARLOS LAGO: Welcome to Nashville. I've flown out to test drive the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The Stelvio is a compact, luxury-oriented SUV that competes against the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes Benz GLC, Porsche Macan, Jaguar F pace, and on and on. The list is so long because this is a very hot and very competitive segment. So you've got to stand out. Now, the way Alfa Romeo does this is they've named the Stelvio after a very curvy road in the Italian Alps. It's kind of a strange thing. You would typically think a name like that would be reserved for a sports car, but not for Alfa Romeo. The Stelvio name indicates what Alfa Romeo is trying to do with this car, what they want to convey with this car. And that's a sense of driving passion and driving enjoyment. Inside and out, this is a very unique and parts of it very attractive look that sets it aside from the typical luxury compact SUV. There's a purposefulness to the design that says, this is something that has sporty intentions. I mean, just look at the wheels, for example. The latest Alfa Romeo wheels look amazing. Some parts of it might be hit or miss but that's for you to decide. I still go back and forth on the front end of this car, though the rear, the rear 3/4, especially this thing, looks nice. The same is true inside. It's an interior that almost might seem plain, but it's a careful use of materials in it. Its simplicity gives it an attraction that will make it seem at home on the day-to-day usage. Now, every Stelvio except for the high performance version comes with a turbocharged two-liter four cylinder that makes 280 horsepower and 306 pound/feet of torque. Attached to that two-liter turbocharged four cylinder is an 8-speed automatic and all Stelvios come with all-wheel-drive. It's a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system. And most of the time it's directing 100% of the available torque to the rear wheels. But in rare instances, it can set as much as 60% up to the front end. Now, this is supposed to help give it a more natural-feeling sensation when it comes to handling. Although you probably have to be pushing it to notice the effects or be a very astute super sensitive driver. So those kinds of things. The ride is on the firmer side and it's controlled nicely. You don't get a sense that this thing weighs the 4,000 pounds or plus that it does weight. And that's really nice. Driving a sport version of the Stelvio, which comes with these enormous aluminum shift paddles, they kind of look like they're novelty size. And there's a couple of things about these shift pedals that are actually pretty nice. When you put this thing in manual mode and start relying on them, they hold gears even if you run into red line. They want to make this experience like driving a manual vehicle. One of the things we have noticed, though, is that this car employs a brake-by-wire system. There's no mechanical connection between the brake pedal and the brakes themselves. It's all done electronically. And this can-- most of the time it feels OK, but occasionally you do get this sense of uncanny valley, where the response isn't as linear as you would like from a brake pedal. You press on the pedal sometimes and it can take a fraction of a second longer to ramp up the brake response that you're looking for. General driving, it's fine. It just takes some getting used to. The acceleration is impressive. When you come to a stop there's a bit of a delay. Part of it's because of turbo lag. There's only so much you can do running a ton of boost through a small displacement engine. But once this motor gets going, it has no problem developing speed. The goal of this vehicle to make driving more engaging, more satisfying, more fun than your typical luxury SUV, I think they've done a very good job at that. At least in this initial impression. Such that I've got to make sure I'm watching my speed, and it's Parkway here. I can't wait to get this car back to our office to do more extended testing on it. But for the time being, this looks like a very promising first drive.
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a compact luxury crossover SUV intent on attracting buyers with sharp design, enjoyable handling and a powerful engine. It comes in two trim levels that, with exceptions, have similar access to options and packages, which include additional safety, luxury and performance features. Regardless of trim level and options, the Stelvio's pricing remains competitive with the segment, even when it's fully loaded.
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is offered in base and Ti trim levels that are differentiated by their level of standard features. Regardless, both trims come with the same powerful inline-four and eight-speed automatic. A high-performance Quadrifoglio model will be available early next year.
The base Stelvio doesn't skimp on style, boasting 18-inch wheels and chrome exhaust finishers. You'll find most typical luxury appointments inside, including 10-way power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and a digital gauge cluster. And while the 6.5-inch entertainment screen falls on the small side, it still supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
For a small increase in price, the Ti ups the luxury and appearance elements by adding items such as 19-inch wheels, wood interior trim, heated front seats and steering wheel, and a larger 8.8-inch widescreen infotainment system.
A small handful of packages improve performance, luxury and safety aspects of the Stelvio, while à la carte options consist of a stereo upgrade and a dual-pane sunroof. A rear mechanical locking differential — a rarity in this segment — is available in a performance package. Fortunately, most packages and options can be ordered in conjunction, so you don't have to worry about missing out on a feature.
Considering its driving experience, the Stelvio is priced fairly when compared against its segment. That said, it biases more toward sport than utility and luxury; its interior can feel a little plain; and larger occupants might feel a little cramped in the back seat. Like all Alfa Romeos, the Stelvio is fresh to the market, so it'll be a few years before you know what to expect for resale value. When you've made the decision, Edmunds can help find the perfect 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio for you. 2018 alfa romeo stelvio first drive
How It Stands Out
Being able to say "Made in Italy" is a good start. Bold styling that backs up that fact is even better. To this end, the Stelvio's fascia proudly bears the company's tribolo grille design and distinctive LED running lights. It also offers a striking array of optional 19- and 20-inch wheels along with red or yellow brake calipers. Clearly, the Stelvio is not about blending in.
Beyond the front end, the design resembles the Giulia sedan because the Stelvio is essentially a taller version of that vehicle. It shares the same suspension, engines and so on. They share similar trim levels, too, from an undesignated base model ($42,990) to a premium Ti trim ($44,990). A high-performance Quadrifoglio variant will be available early next year.
Both base and Ti variants offer a Sport package that adds the aforementioned cool-as-all-heck wheels, paddle shifters, separate suspension tuning and a few cosmetic upgrades. A Lusso package for the Ti trim dresses up the interior with 12-way power-adjustable seats and additional interior trim options.
Power Down Low
While the Quadrifoglio variant will get a high-revving, Ferrari-derived 505-horsepower twin-turbo V6, all other Stelvios pack a grunty turbo 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that's connected to an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Peak engine output of 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque is among the highest of its competitors, and the Stelvio delivers each remarkably early in its powerband (5,200 rpm and 2,000 rpm, respectively).
That kind of low-rpm power delivery should make it feel quick around town, yet the Stelvio's engine can take a beat or two to get moving from a dead stop, a feeling that's compounded by the stop-start system. Achieving acceleration near Alfa Romeo's 5.4-second zero-to-60-mph claim requires holding the Stelvio in place with your left foot on the brake while mashing the gas with your right — not something you'd do at every stoplight.
Once underway, the Stelvio's strong acceleration means that getting up to speed isn't much of a problem. The engine is vocal but not operatic, making a sound that has more grit than melody. And despite the power, the Stelvio's EPA-rated 24 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway) falls right in line with the competition.
The Stelvio's intent on driving fun is obvious from the driver's seat. The Sport package's novelty-size shift paddles poke out like elephant ears behind the steering wheel, which itself hosts a large start button. Once underway, small inputs to the wheel translate to immediate action from the front tires. The responses convey agility and eagerness, but not the nervousness sometimes associated with quick-reacting steering systems.
The transmission behavior also shows how focused the Stelvio is on performance. When left to its own devices, it lets the engine slowly ramp up to speed in each gear instead of quickly shifting to higher gears to conserve fuel. Put the gear selector in manual mode and the engine will bang off its rev limiter until you ask for an upshift. Tugging on the shift paddles is satisfying but requires an eye on the tachometer as that 6,200-rpm fuel cut can sneak up on you.
Alfa Romeo's Q4 all-wheel-drive system biases power rearward for more natural handling, but it's capable of routing 60 percent of power to the front when needed. Most drivers probably won't notice the changes, but they might catch themselves taking corners a little faster than normal. Those who like to drive aggressively will enjoy the three drive mode settings that adjust shift timing, level of steering assist and stability control, as well as the response of the gas and brake pedals. If you need another indication of the Stelvio's focus, the Performance package available later this year adds driver-adjustable suspension and a helical locking rear differential, the latter being a rarity even among some sports cars.
In terms of handling prowess, only the costlier Porsche Macan or performance variants of the Stelvio's competitors come to mind. If we have one complaint, it's with an occasional inconsistency from the brake-by-wire system. Electronically controlled brakes mean the pedal feedback has to be simulated, and in the Stelvio it sometimes felt different from what we expected, requiring a short learning curve to stop smoothly.
It's About Priorities
Considering the Stelvio's outward flamboyance, the simplicity of the interior might come as a surprise. The design is clean and bolstered by an array of optional wood and aluminum trims, but the interiors of other compact luxury SUVs convey a greater sense of luxury. Fortunately, the entertainment system's straightforward graphics and rotary controller make it generally easy to read and use. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support arrives this fall, but Stelvios sold before then will not be able to upgrade — be warned, shoppers.
Also note that the Stelvio is not big on the utility side of the equation. Its 3,000-pound tow capacity is among the lowest of its group, and its second-row accommodations and cargo area fall on the smaller side of the compact SUV spectrum. While children and average-size adults will fit without their knees touching the front seats, larger folk might complain on longer drives.
But you shouldn't expect class-leading utility from an Italian vehicle named after a winding road in the Alps. The Stelvio instead pegs the fun-factor needle, making the thought of each drive appealing on a purely emotional level. That doesn't happen very often with SUVs, so the Stelvio is well positioned to make a big impression on the compact luxury utility segment.
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Overview
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is offered in the following submodels: SUV. Available styles include Ti Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A), Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A), and 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A). Stelvio models are available with a 0-liter gas engine, with output up to 0 hp, depending on engine type. The 2018 Stelvio comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 8-speed shiftable automatic. The 2018 Stelvio comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a Not available powertrain warranty.
Is the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2018 Stelvio featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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What do people think of the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2018 Stelvio a 4.7 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2018 Stelvio.
Vehicle 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
Review I've had the car for two weeks now and, so far, I am very satisfyed. It is a very good looking and handling car. The interior is not full of bells and whistles, which I like. Not a lot of buttons. Everything is logically layed out. Comfortable seats and a comfortable ride which could be turned into a sporty ride with the turn of a knob. Some nitpicks: There are only 7 presets on the radio - in total. My last car had over 20 presets. The voice activation does not work for the phone. It seems that the early batches of Stelvios do not come equiped with Apply Play or Android. All phone calls have to be made manually - not through any voice activation. I called Alfa Romeo to ask if when the software became available, would I be able to download it onto my car. They didn't know, so, my feeling is that I won't be able to. Not happy about that. The view out of the back is a bit limited but that is not surprising as the "swooping" design of the rear of the car is one of the things I liked about it. Because of this, the safety package is something you should consider. The dashboard view of the backup camera should be larger and it seems that it should be a bit brighter or have a higher resolution. Again, these are some nitpicks on a SUV that I am very happy with.
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2018 alfa-romeo stelvio Ti Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A), 8-speed shiftable automatic, premium unleaded (required) 24 combined MPG 22 city MPG/28 highway MPG
2018 alfa-romeo stelvio Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A), 8-speed shiftable automatic, premium unleaded (required) 24 combined MPG 22 city MPG/28 highway MPG