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2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: Italian Performance SUV

By Sue Mead, September 30th, 2017

Are you into numbers? Some people play the numbers with lottery tickets and bet on horses. We're impressed with the numbers Alfa Romeo has played with its all-new 2018 Stelvio -- its first sport utility vehicle. The premium sport ute sprints from 0-to-60 mph in roughly 5.4 seconds, and is named for the alpine pass that has 48 turns in the roadway that ascends to its up its 9,000-foot summit.

Alfa Romeo is betting the new Stelvio will not simply boost its sales numbers, but will also compete well in the hot and increasingly crowded midsize SUV segment by "disrupting a sea of mediocrity."

We drove the Stelvio recently, which is crafted and built in Italy and is available in three models priced in the sweet spot of the market with more horsepower and torque than its competitors: the base Stelvio starts at $41,995; the Stelvio Ti begins at $43,995, and a high-performance Quadrifoglio model will arrive later.

Its stunning good looks come from its "Giorgio" architecture, borrowed from the Giulia sport sedan with engineering that draws from stablemates Ferrari and Maserati. While it has similar tailoring to Jaguar F-Pace and Land Rover Evoque from its coupe-like side profile, its large heritage badge is the showstopper. The sleek crossover has short overhangs, bi-xenon headlights with daytime LEDs front and rear, and a dual-mode exhaust with quad tips punctuates the exterior.

In true Italian fashion, owners can customize their performance SUV in a choice of 13 exterior colors in solid, metallic, or tri-coat finishes; seven wheel choices ranging from 18 inches to 21 inches; and a rich roster of interior color and trim choices, including Black, Red, or Chocolate and two interior trim options -- Aluminum with Dark Gray Oak or Light Walnut Wood.

Inside the genuine leather interior is a full-length console with soft side panels, front overhead console, satin door handles, luxury front and rear floor mats, front and rear LED reading lamps, and passive entry with remote start and keyless go. Acoustic and solar control glass improves interior comfort. Depending on the trim, luxury features can include a dual-pane sunroof and headlamp washers and a trailer hitch rated to 3,000 pounds.

Under the hood is an all-aluminum, 2.0-liter direct-injection twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 280 horsepower and 306 lb.-ft. of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission; standard is Alfa's Q4 AWD system and with start/stop technology. The rear-driver has a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution and available steering-column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters that enable gearshifts in less than 100 milliseconds.

Braking is via Brembo four-piston calipers with 13.0-inch rotors up front and single-piston calipers with 12.5-inch rotors at the rear. When it arrives, the halo-model Quadrifoglio variant promises acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and a projected top speed of 177 mph thanks to a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 boasting 505 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque.

The AWD system is coupled with Alfa's DNA Drive Mode Selector that combines all-season traction and performance with the ability to customize the driving behavior: Advanced Efficiency mode brings the lowest fuel consumption, Natural offers balanced daily driving and optimal comfort, and Dynamic delivers sharper brake and steering feel with more aggressive engine, transmission, and throttle tip-in calibration.

We drove the Stelvio Ti with the Sport Package ($2,500) that adds 20-inch aluminum wheels, all-season performance tires, leather seats with power bolster and thigh support, and generous and sport-inspired touches of aluminum. Its handling is refined, with power-on-tap and the accompanying auditory delight that signals power, while the sport suspension and Brembo brakes keep it planted on the road and help it stop with performance manners.

All Stelvio models feature a unitized high-strength steel body, a composite cross member, and aluminum front and rear vehicle frames, shock towers suspension, brake assemblies, fenders, roof, and hood.

Available safety and security features include brake assist with electronic brake-force distribution, all-speed traction control and anti-slip regulation, electronic stability control, hill descent control, and tire pressure monitoring.

Specifications

Base price $43,995 (as tested: $53,640)
Curb weight 4,044 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 16-valve turbocharged 4-cyl. w/GDI
Epa mileage rating 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 16.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 280 at 5200 rpm
Overall length 184.6 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 306 at 2000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger midsize AWD SUV
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