Alfa Romeo remains a niche player in the US market, with just two models offered – the Giulia sedan and the Stelvio utility vehicle. Soon, though, a second SUV will join the fleet when the compact Tonale PHEV arrives in Spring 2023. The Italian company, a subset of Fiat under the Stellantis umbrella, is actively raising its visibility through more than two dozen sponsorships, including F1. On a recent visit to the “Tail of the Dragon,” an Alfa Romeo Stelvio was waiting for us. I rode shotgun as this SUV navigated 318 turns across 11 miles of US 129.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Overview
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio arrived in the U.S. for the 2018 model year. It shares its architecture with the Giulia sedan, a rear-wheel-drive-biased vehicle. Recognizing this SUV as a Guilia on stilts is not a stretch as my driver partner, Kevin Meyn, said. The connection is strong and is what makes Stelvio absolutely entertaining.
Alfa Romeo offers the 2023 Stelvio in five grades. These are: Sprint ($46,575); Ti ($52,185); Veloce ($55,825); Estrema ($59,725); and Quadrifoglio ($87,875). Add $1,595 for the destination charge.
Only the Sprint model is available in standard rear-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive ($2,000). The other four grades come with standard all-wheel drive.
For 2023, the Estrema grade is new and slots above the Veloce. This model comes with standard adaptive suspension and a limited-slip differential. A Lusso limited-edition trim builds on the Ti, incorporating a special interior color scheme and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
On the Tail of the Dragon
Riding shotgun doesn’t provide the same perspective as driving a vehicle. That said, you get a great feel for how a vehicle behaves on tough roads, such as the Tail of the Dragon.
Aiding the Stelvio’s cause is a stiff chassis, available dampers, and a limited-slip differential. It behaves much in the same way as the Giulia, although its body roll propensity is there. On the dragon, though, it had the distinction of being the only SUV allowed on that road. The reason? Because body roll is manageable, whereas in other high-profile vehicles it is not.
Operating the Stelvio in manual mode and keeping the transmission in second or third gear made our drive very manageable. Quick steering, direct handling, and firm brakes aided our cause. But braking was kept to a minimum as working the transmission manually slowed the Stelvio ahead of most turns. Notably, using brakes in excess can cause them to fail. That was a warning we heeded before setting out on the Dragon.
Our test model came with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This motor develops 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque and works with a compliant 8-speed automatic transmission to shuttle power to the wheels. Those shifts come fast in automatic mode and move easily in manual mode. Choose the Quadrifoglio and this one comes with the Ferrari-inspired 2.9-liter V6 with a whopping 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque.
Credit Alfa Romeo for developing a truly stout SUV in the Stelvio. It is closer to a sedan in driving behavior than it is to most utility vehicles. As such, it imbues confidence in hairpin turns and winding curves, something we experienced hundreds of times on the Dragon. We can only imagine how the Quadrifoglio would perform on the same drive. Then again, the “Q” is much more suitable for the track and would likely surprise not a few people.
We’re still waiting to receive an Alfa Romeo Stelvio in our press fleet. More than likely, though, the Alfa Romeo Tonale will appear ahead of it. Regardless, the chance to spend a week with any Alfa Romeo is something we fancy, including the Giulia sedan.
2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Specifications
|Alfa Romeo||2023 Stelvio|
|Price Range||From $46,200 to $87,875|
|Engine No. 1||2.0-liter, Turbo I4|
|Horsepower||280 @ 5,200 rpm|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||306 @ 2,000 to 4,800 rpm|
|Engine No. 2||2.9-liter, Turbo V6|
|Horsepower||505 @ 6,500|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||443 @ 2,500 to 5,500|
|Curb Weight (pounds)||3,901 to 4,313|
|Headroom (f,r…inches)||40.2, 38.9|
|Legroom (f,r…inches)||36.6, 31.9|
|Shoulder room (f,r…inches)||57.5, 56.0|
|Hip room (f,r…inches)||NR, NR|
|Storage (bed length)||18.5/56.5|
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)||NR|
|Fuel Tank (gallons)||16.9|
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined)||22/29/25 (I4); 17/23/19 (V6)|
|Manufacturing Plant||Cassino, Italy|
Specifications supplied by the manufacturer. Compiled by Tom Keegan.
See Also — Tales From Tail of the Dragon
Photos courtesy of Stellantis North America.