2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a sports car in an SUV body

Feb 11, 2018 Hit: 407 Written by 
The Alfa Romeo is a compact luxury SUV aimed at those who love driving.
The Alfa Romeo is a compact luxury SUV aimed at those who love driving. Photo courtesy of FCA

Alfa Romeo SUV.

The fact that those words even exist tells you how much the automotive world has changed in the past several years.

An Italian company with a century of history built on curve-gripping sports cars and racecars wouldn’t have considered such a move before the SUV revolution took hold, but now they don’t really have a choice. With BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar, Maserati, Porsche and others in the mix already, they can’t risk losing luxury buyers who have migrated up to larger vehicles. Hence the Stelvio.

So what did Alfa do? Essentially they took a sports car and put it into the body of a small SUV. Here’s my thoughts on the finished product, which I recently got to spend some time in.


Built off the platform of the award-winning Alfa Romeo Giulia, and fittingly named after a curvy mountain pass in Italy in the Eastern Alps, the Stelvio hits a home run in the looks department.

Your attention is immediately drawn to Alfa’s unique design up front, which I dubbed the “tri-grille” look. It’s got sharp-looking lines and curves, and for the record I have to say that the century-old Alfa Romeo logo (featuring a red cross and what appears to be a snake eating a man) is perhaps the best logo in automobiles.


Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
  • Price as tested:: $55,240 (starting price is $41,995)
  • Best feature:: Perhaps the best driving performance in any SUV I’ve tested
  • Rating:: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Adventurous luxury SUV buyers who are looking for something that’s a blast to drive

Getting inside the vehicle, you have two rows and room for four, but it’s a bit tight in the back seat in terms of leg room. The driver’s seat can be a bit uncomfortable at times, and the materials used on the Stelvio’s interior are not as high-end as I expected from Alfa. There is decent cargo space: 19 cubic feet behind rear seats; 57 cubic feet with them put down.

Some little quirks are included on the interior design of the Stelvio, such as a unique location of the push-to-start button (it’s on the steering wheel, not on dash), plus the inclusion of a somewhat clunky electronic shifter.

In terms of comfort, heated front seats and heated steering wheel are offered.

And speaking of wheels, the bold design of the Stelvio’s wheels is top-notch and stands out in the segment.


Most versions of the Stelvio will feature a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine; paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission (paddle shifters are also included if you want to do things manually). Numbers on this engine are 280 horsepower, 306 lb.-ft. of torque.

There is also a limited edition Quadrifoglio version that comes with a V6 turbo and offers 505 horsepower. Probably a good thing I didn’t get my hands on that, as I wouldn’t want to give it back.


Even with the four-cylinder engine, the Stelvio is loads of fun to drive. The first time you hit the accelerator, you know what this vehicle is capable of, and get it out on some windy roads and it’s truly exhilarating. This may be the best driver experience available, or very close to it, among the plethora of luxury crossovers released thus far. It hugs the turns better than any SUV I’ve tested. Zero-to-60 speed is in the mid 5-second range. At 4,037 pounds, it’s lighter than many competitors, which helps the mobility of the Stelvio.

You have three driving modes to choose from -- an eco mode (Advanced Efficiency), Natural or Dynamic, which is the fun one. You’ll want to spend your time in Dynamic as much as possible, especially when you have room to test its capability. Just don’t go too crazy (you can actually set a limit on top speed to avoid getting into trouble, which might be a smart move since top speed is 144 mph. Save that for a day you rent out the local race track).

Disclaimer: The Stelvio is an AWD vehicle, but as I found out one day during my test, it’s not the best vehicle in snowy conditions. Driving it during a snowstorm before roads were properly plowed proved a bit treacherous. And as a side note, it has some overly sensitive safety systems in those conditions, making loud noises as if vehicles were in my path, when none were there.


With Alfa Romeo being under the FCA banner, I was surprised to see a different infotainment system included here, instead of the excellent UConnect system featured in other FCA vehicles.

The system included in the Stelvio is somewhat cumbersome to navigate via a center console dial, and can be less than straightforward in its setup.


A Harman Kardon Premium Audio system is offered and features impressive sound quality.

A backup camera with rear parking sensors is included, and among the safety features offered are: Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection; Adaptive Cruise Control; Forward Collision Warning; and Lane Departure Warning.

Official fuel mileage numbers on the Stelvio are 22 city/28 highway/24 combined. Against its main competition, these numbers hold up well.

My test vehicle was just over $55K with all options; base price on the Stelvio starts about $42K and the Quadrifoglio model with the 505 hp is up in the $70K range.

It’s also worth noting that since the Stelvio is a brand new vehicle, the long-term reliability factor is a big question mark at this point.


For some sports car purists, companies like Alfa Romeo (and even Lamborghini) going into the SUV realm is simply sacrilege.
But if those naysayers get behind the wheel of a Stelvio, they might change their mind.
While it has its flaws in terms of design and functionality, the ride quality is easily among the best you’ll find from a vehicle that’s also capable of carrying a family.

======= can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Last modified on Monday, 12 February 2018 04:35
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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.


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