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2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review: Exceptionally sporty, but compromised

Bynewsmagzines

Feb 22, 2023
2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review: Exceptionally sporty, but compromised


Pros: Excellent steering and handling; two sporty engines available; stands out from crowd

Cons: Mediocre interior; lackluster tech; small for its segment

The 2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio feels exotic for the compact crossover segment, with its Italian pedigree, sharp styling and sporty performance. It checks the boxes of a luxury daily driver, while still offering sharp driving dynamics that might mean its owner doesn’t miss the sports car that doesn’t fit their lifestyle anymore. And, you can’t dismiss that this thing is different than the rest of the pack. An Italian car with its signature “Scudetto” grille sure stands out in a parking lot full of more common family vehicles with more conformist design — especially if you pick one of the bolder, brighter paint colors from Alfa’s palette.

The biggest sticking point with the Stelvio is that its interior doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the vehicle’s grandeur. It’s not particularly roomy, and middling material quality and a lack of general artistry dull the illusion of exoticism in the otherwise glamorous and sporty Stelvio (though if you like carbon fiber, the Quadrifoglio’s got you — and practically every surface — covered). The tech, while serviceable, is less spectacular than what you’ll find in the competition (though considering how overwhelming some infotainment systems can feel today, that might not be the worst thing ever).

The Stelvio is due for an update for 2024, so we’ll see this generation stick around for a few more years before Alfa starts rolling out a raft of electric models. Still, if you’re on the fence about whether to buy one now or wait until next year, we don’t any expect major changes to come, especially not in terms of performance. And while we think some of its competitors offer more in the way of luxury and utility, the Stelvio is still a great choice for a customer who actually cares about driving dynamics and standing out from the crowd.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it’s like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What’s new for 2023?

The Stelvio gets an Estrema trim that borrows features like adaptive suspension and limited-slip differential from the line-topping Quadrifoglio, without taking the step up in engine performance and the much higher price tag that comes with it. There will also be a limited-edition Lusso trim that builds upon the Ti with “Crema” Cannelloni-design leather upholstery, leather dash and door trim, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

What are the Stelvio interior and in-car technology like?

The Stelvio’s interior doesn’t possess the same luxurious look and feel you’ll find in an Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche or Volvo. From the somewhat pedestrian design to the ho-hum materials, it seems unlikely that you’ll be buying a Stelvio for its interior ambiance. That said, it’s now less likely to put you off. The switchgear no longer looks or feels toylike, the quality of leather is still top notch, and the steering wheel alone is enough to make you forget about a few cheap bits elsewhere. It’s perfectly contoured for your hands, the attached start button is very cool, and you have to give Alfa credit for including massive, Ferrari-style paddle shifters crafted from metal.

The infotainment is also no longer a deal-breaker, as it was before its 2020 update. Its standard widescreen is perhaps a little low and doesn’t quite offer the versatility of Porsche’s similarly configurable system, but we like that Alfa provides the redundant control option of a touchscreen and a rotary control knob. There’s nothing like BMW’s Gesture Control or natural speech recognition, but even if you get those to work (which is iffy), they’re arguably parlor tricks anyway. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard along with satellite radio.

How big is the Stelvio?

Outside, the Stelvio is pretty much the same size as its primary competitors from Germany: the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Porsche Macan and Mercedes-Benz GLC. The interior is a similar story apart from two of the most important factors: backseat legroom and cargo capacity. According to Alfa’s specs, the Stelvio has 31.9 inches of rear legroom, which is a massive 5-6 inches less than those above competitors. It’s hardly a limo back there, but it’s certainly not that much different than those competitors in practical terms, and we suspect this could be a matter of differing measuring techniques.

The same could be said of the cargo area, which as we discovered in our Stelvio luggage test, is capable of carrying far more luggage than its paltry official measurement would indicate (so much so, the number’s not even worth mentioning). We found it could hold five suitcases of various sizes, which is pretty good for an SUV of this size. The maximum cargo volume of 56.5 cubic-feet does seem realistic. It’s not as much as you’ll find in a BMW X3 or Volvo XC60, but it matches the GLC and betters the Q5 and Macan.

What are the Stelvio fuel economy and performance specs?

The Stelvio comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, as virtually all of its competitors do. However, it produces 280 hp and 306 pound-feet of torque, which basically crushes them all, and consequently results in a 0-60-mph sprint of 5.4 seconds – ditto. An eight-speed automatic is standard, as is all-wheel drive on all except the base Sprint trim, which comes with rear-wheel drive (AWD is optional). Fuel economy stands at 22 miles city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg with RWD and 22/28/24 mpg with AWD. This is comparable to most competitors.

The 2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 derived from a modular Ferrari engine family that produces 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. It’s standard with an eight-speed auto and AWD. It’s been clocked doing 0-60 in 3.6 seconds, which is absolutely bonkers for an SUV – or anything, really. It has far more power and is far quicker than a Porsche Macan Turbo, for instance, which costs more. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s fuel economy is 17/23/19 mpg, which isn’t too bad given its level of performance.

What’s the Stelvio like to drive?

The Stelvio will immediately feel a little different behind the wheel than its competitors due to steering that is shockingly quick, yet precise and easily operated at low parking-lot speeds. Beyond that, the standard Stelvio impresses with its abundant power, nicely damped ride quality and above-average road-holding. However, it’s not quite as zesty or characterful as you might expect. It generally feels more like a regular luxury SUV than in comparison to its Alfa Romeo Giulia sibling, which stands out stronger in comparison to its own sport sedan competition. Sharper response, perhaps a bit closer to the Quadrifoglio’s, or a more interesting engine/exhaust note might do the trick.

There’s no shortage of zest in the Quadrifoglio, however, which is as sizzling and wild as you might have heard. Like the exceptional steering, all its other controls need a similarly deliberate and precise touch. The brakes have a right-now biting action, the throttle doesn’t tolerate stabby inputs, and the pedals are located as close together as they would be in a sports car (driving in work boots is not recommended). The Quadrifoglio also exhibits sports-car-like behavior at low speeds, with more off-throttle slowing than you’re probably used to in a car with a regular automatic transmission. As such, it can be a little uncouth when in traffic, feeling like a caffeinated puppy desperately trying to break out and run around the house.

Road holding is exceptional, and whoever thought of including a Soft Suspension button for the car’s “dynamic” mode was a genius (a feature also available on Sport trims). It allows you to quickly soften the springs when driving on bumpy pavement that can upset the car’s chassis or your spine. Ride quality is actually quite good given this hyper-performance SUV’s sporting bent.

What other Alfa Romeo Stelvio reviews can I read?

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Road Test: The driver’s choice becomes less compromised

Our first drive after the Stelvio’s facelift, which helped make up for some, but not all, of its shortcomings.

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

 

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio exhaust is just as good as you hoped

Listen to the sound of the hottest Stelvio’s exhaust in action.

 

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Luggage Test: How much cargo space?

Find out how much luggage fits in the Stelvio, plus other cargo area attributes.

 

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Review: Heck of a third impression

We’re blown away by the way it drives (that still stands) and are underwhelmed by its interior (since corrected, mostly).

 

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Drivers’ Notes Review: Everything you expect

The 505-hp twin-turbo V6 makes the Stelvio addicting to drive, but other crossovers do the “crossover” part better.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

 

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Drivers’ Notes: Italy’s last savior

Our review of a Ti Sport trim level model.

 

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio First Drive: Form and function in fairly equal parts

Our first drive of the Stelvio, including in-depth information about its design and engineering.

 

What is the 2023 Stelvio price?

The base Stelvio — the Sprint trim with RWD — starts at $48,170 including destination, while AWD ads $2,000. All other trims come with AWD as standard. The bare-bones Sprint on up to the Estrema, with its luxury content and ride and handling upgrades, use the 2.0-liter engine. The line-topping Quadrifoglio includes the 2.9-liter engine, a number of dynamic upgrades and carbon fiber interior, but things like the advanced driver assistance features and dual-panne sunroof are still optional, even at this level. We think the Stelvio Ti is a nice sweet spot in terms of style, convenience and value, but the addition of the Estrema with its adaptive suspension and rear limited slip differential make it an attractive choice of driver’s companion without taking the leap up to the Quadrifoglio.

The 2023 Stelvio price breakdown by trim (including $1,595 in destination fees) follows, and you can find a full breakdown of specs, features and local pricing for each trim level here at Autoblog.

  • Sprint RWD: $48,170
  • Sprint AWD: $50,170
  • Ti: $53,780
  • Veloce: $55,580
  • Estrema: $61,420
  • Quadrifoglio: $89,770

What are the Stelvio safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Standard driver assistance features include stop-and-go adaptive cruise control forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and front and rear parking sensors. Also available are lane-keeping steering assist, traffic sign recognition, active blind-spot assist and driver inattention detection.

The Stelvio has not yet been crash tested by a third party.

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