By Derek Price
I already thought the Alfa Romeo Stelvio was one of the best premium SUV bargains on the market. For 2020, it gets even better.
With a starting price of $41,400, the Stelvio delivers exotic Italian looks, a distinctive and rewarding feel from the driver’s seat and a lot of luxury content for the money. At that price, I can’t think of any other crossover vehicle that turns heads and makes you feel as special as this one.
To me, this is the solution to America’s inexplicable obsession with boring crossovers. It still seats five people comfortably, has good forward visibility and a hatch in back for carrying cargo, but that’s where the boring stuff stops.
Everything else about it is actually interesting.
The front end looks like no other vehicle on the road, with a triangular grille that evokes the idea of historic Alfa race cars. Thankfully, it eschews the tendency for modern designers to pen ever bigger and gaudier grilles with gaping holes up front. And while the rest of the body is styled more conventionally, it still manages to please the eye with its blend of muscular and sophisticated lines.
It’s one of the few crossover vehicles I think is genuinely pretty.
It’s also noticeably better for the 2020 model year, at least as experienced from the inside.
While the body gets relatively minor tweaks that only enthusiasts would notice at first glance — optional body appearance kits, a carbon fiber package and some new colors — the cabin gets a much more thorough makeover.
An 8.8-inch touchscreen is now standard, and I found it easier to use than similar systems from Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW. It’s brilliantly designed, and it doesn’t force you to use an awkward rotary knob or laptop-style touchpad like some of its fussier competitors.
A 7-inch digital display behind the steering wheel is also standard. It has beautiful new graphics and can be configured to show all kinds of useful information for the driver. It also gets a host of connectivity upgrades, including an app that lets you connect with the vehicle remotely, a mobile WiFi hotspot, and the ability to get over-the-air updates to the vehicle’s firmware.
New driver assistance features this year give it Level II autonomy, which is the ability to drive itself for short periods of time. It does a good job keeping itself centered in the lane and following the speed of traffic, whether on the highway or in urban traffic jams.
A new center console and redesigned steering wheel add to the functionality and style inside. It has more space for storage, a wireless charging pad for mobile phones and a more upscale look overall.
At the bottom end of its pricing, around $40,000, the Stelvio feels like a screaming bargain to me. It comes standard with leather seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote start and some active safety features.
Like most luxury brands, though, options can quickly drive up the price. My tester added more than $10,000 in optional upgrades that were nice but hardly necessary. Adding $1,100 for extra leather on the doors and dash, for example, and another $1,100 for 20-inch wheels and black trim in the Nero Edizione Sport appearance package are things value shoppers can live without.
Combined with the eye-catching Italian looks and a powerful and soul-stirring base engine — a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque, all while sounding delicious through the tailpipes — it’s a compelling mixture.
A whopping seven different grades are available, topped by the high-performance Quadrifoglio at $80,500. It’s powered by a 505-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 derived from a Ferrari powerplant.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio TI Sport AWD ($45,800). Options: Package 22S ($2,500), Nero Edizione Sport ($1,100), active driver assist package ($3,250), security and convenience pack ($500), TI Sport performance package ($1,350), dual-pane sunroof ($1,350), Harman Kardon premium sound system ($900), wireless charging pad ($300), leather dash and upper doors ($1,100), hands-free power lift gate ($300). Price as tested (including $1,295 destination charge): $59,745
Wheelbase: 110.9 in.
Length: 184.6 in.
Width: 74.9 in.
Height: 66 in.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder (280 hp, 306 ft.-lbs.)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 22 city, 29 highway
Why buy it?
It makes you feel special, both from the way it looks and how rewarding it is to drive. It’s one of the few crossover vehicles that appears and drives in a distinctive way, and it’s an even better value with upgrades this year.