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Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione AWD review

2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione AWD right front
Mark Savage
Savage On Wheels
2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione AWD right front

Getting the big things right is a given, even for entry-level vehicles. But nailing the tiny things, well, that’s expected in all luxury makes, even those from Italy.

Alfa Romeo has barely been a blip on the U.S. auto industry’s radar for much of the last 40 years. But it re-launched itself a decade ago when Chrysler and Jeep were gobbled up by the Fiat and now Stellantis global brands, acquiring a dealer network in the package.

Alfa, the racier, sexier brand among the Stellantis offerings first introduced its Giulia sports sedan, then launched its Stelvio crossover for 2018. Both looked great.

That’s the history.

Six years after first testing that 2018 Stelvio, I slid inside the stylish Moonlight Gray Matte ($1,750 extra) Competizione edition of the 2024 Stelvio. Mind you, it could not have been a more boring color. But this luxury crossover hasn’t changed much in six years. Most of what I liked then, I like now, and the small things, those that add up to final decision makers for a potential buyer, mostly remain flawed.

Sad too, because the Stelvio looks sensational in any color but gray, and virtually all paint colors cost extra at Alfa.

On the plus side, Stelvio offers power and handling like few competing compact SUVs or crossovers. Stelvio is fun to drive. Handling is its clear forte with a light yet responsive feel that implies sports car DNA (more on that in a sec) and indeed, Stelvio is based on the Giulia sport sedan’s chassis.

So, take it out to the sweeping curves around Holy Hill or find some winding roads in Wisconsin’s rural hinterlands and Stelvio is a champ. In town it’s nimble and easy to park.

The power is generous, a full 280 horsepower from the peppy 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder. Torque rating is 300. Kelley Blue Book says to expect 0-60 mph to slip by in 5.4 seconds with a top speed of 140+ mph. In my initial drive six years ago, I felt that power was smooth with no turbo lag and well delivered via a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

This time though, there was lag every time I punched the accelerator for more than normal stoplight getaway. Hit it to launch onto the freeway and there was a hiccup. Maybe it wasn’t drinking the proper high-octane premium fuel this engine requires. Not sure. But that hesitation was obvious. But once the power engaged, the Alfa was quick and the transmission flawless.

The ride is sporty as in firm and noticeably bumpy on our crumbling northern Midwest roads. Yet, there was some give to it so the motion was one more of rocking over the cracks and potholes than smashing deep into them and jarring ones innards.

Stelvio, named after a famous road in Italy’s Alps, packs an active suspension so one feels maybe it could adjust more quickly to create a smoother luxury ride, yet dialing in any of the three DNA drive modes remains pretty firm. Naturally the Dynamic or D mode is firmest and fastest and what you’d want for highway jaunts, while the Natural or N mode is still peppy for daily driving. A, or Advanced Efficiency, is what most makers call Eco to lower the engine revs and improve gas mileage, as does the Stop/Start function, annoying as it is.

I was happy in N mostly, but D is definitely invigorating.

All-wheel drive, called Q4 by Alfa, is standard on all but the base Sprint trim. It’s $3,000 extra there. It gave the Stelvio good traction on a rain-soaked highway trundle down to Chicago. That highway stint netted 24.9 mpg with five of us aboard. I managed just 23.8 mpg in about half city/half highway driving. The EPA rates this at 22 mpg city and 28 highway.

Outside, Stelvio’s lines and unique grille give it a sporty and individualistic look that one can appreciate in a luxury make.

Inside too, the Alfa has touches of flair and style to make it stand out, but also this is where its bugaboos are most apparent.

Let’s lean into this with the goodies first. Black to gunmetal gray real leather seats and dash and door trim feel and look great and are accented with red stitching. That’s especially neat across the dash and on the leather steering wheel wrap.

Textured metal trim spreads across the dash, along the doors and wrap the console, while satin silver outlines the air ducts, and bathes the door releases and edges most knobs.

The front and rear seats are heated as is the steering wheel and the seats are well padded for a comfy ride. The driver’s seat has three memory settings, and the steering wheel is a flat-bottom model that adds to the interior’s sporty flair.

Overhead is a panoramic sunroof and the hatch in back is powered.

For 2024 Alfa adds a new 12.3-inch driver digital instrument display, but the infotainment screen remains small, about 8 inches and built neatly into the dash. That looks stylish, but in reality, it’s hard to read the screen at times and the rearview backup camera is extremely difficult to see as it’s a small insert into that screen.

Likewise, the screen can be divided into thirds, which makes viewing any single bit of info there, radio or navigation for instance, near impossible.

Also on the small side is the inside rearview mirror. This was a problem six years ago too. The mirror isn’t wide enough for a short driver to adjust and see fully out the rear window. It’s possible that would be less of a problem if that mirror would rotate a bit more to the left so a forward-seated driver could see the far-left corner plainly.

The huge A-pillar/side mirror creates another monster blind spot that can be disconcerting at busy intersections as a driver looks to the right watching for oncoming traffic or the now less than occasional red-light runner. A smaller issue is the driver’s sun visor latch opening that creates a hole that allows the sun to beam into a driver’s eyes during winter when the sun is at low angles.

While whining I should mention the push-button ignition (Start) is on the steering wheel hub. While convenient it’s an odd spot and after a week I still was looking for the ignition each time I started Stelvio. Owners will get used to it, but this reminded me of Saab’s insistence of putting the keyed ignition in the center console (transmission hump) between the front seats. Note, Saab no longer makes cars.

One final annoyance, the loud chime that screams at night whenever the car’s ignition is off and a door is opened. It insists that the car’s lights are on, insinuating the driver should turn them off, even when on the Automatic setting. I tried turning them off just to shut the system up, but to no avail. Note that in the Automatic setting the lights do go out within 30 seconds or so of locking the vehicle, so no alarm was needed.

On the brighter side, Stelvio has plenty of safety gear including remote start, smart cruise, collision warnings front and rear along with parking sensors (too sensitive), and blind-spot warning. For another $700 the tester added an Active Assist package with lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and driver attention alert among other goodies.

More pertinent for the driving enthusiast who moves up to the Competizione trim is the preferred package it ads for $6,100. That includes the active suspension, limited-slip differential, 21-inch tires and special aluminum wheels, and the leather dash and stitching, plus a rear diffuser, power seat bolsters and eight-way power passenger’s seat. For bling this also adds Alfa-branded red brake calipers.

For your listening pleasure, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system is part of the deal.

Starting at $51,320 this Stelvio ended up at $59,870 with options, including the dull color. Better shades are available, but again for $1,750 or so. And a historical note here the better color paint schemes cost just $600 extra six years ago. Quite a profit margin now it seems.

A base front-drive Sprint trim goes for $47,545 while the better equipped Ti model comes with AWD as do all other trims and lists at $52,645 and includes a sunroof. Move up to the Veloce and the price is $54,445.

Can’t let this go without mentioning the elephant in the room, the Quadrifoglio trim that adds a thumping 505-horsepower turbo V6 derived from a Ferrari powerplant. Uh, the Quadrifoglio lists at $87,875 with delivery.

Not much competes with the Alfa for looks, but for performance and features the competition is deep, including the Audi Q5, Acura RDX, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Genesis GV70 (a bargain), Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60. Most have more cargo space than the Alfa and often better rear seat legroom. But looks do matter, right?


FAST STATS: 2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione AWD

Hits: Stylish nose, excellent handling, good power with 3 drive modes, big sunroof, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, comfy seats with 3 memory settings, abundant safety equipment, plus power hatch and flat-bottom steering wheel.

Misses: Small info screen that makes it hard to see the rearview camera, or much else, a small inside rearview mirror won’t adjust to help short driver see well out the rear window, huge A-pillar/mirror blind spot, sun visor has opening that lets sun in, start button on wheel hub. Drinks premium, plus loud chime when proclaiming Lights On even when using the automatic light setting. Turbo lag and stiff ride.

Made in: Cassino, Italy

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, 280 hp/306 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 4,007 lbs.

Wheelbase: 110.9 in.

Length: 184.6 in.

Cargo: 18.5 - 56.5 cu. ft.

MPG: 22/28 (EPA)

MPG: 23.8-24.9 (tested)

Base Price: $51,320

Invoice: $55.562 (includes delivery)


Competizione preferred pkg. (leather sport seats w/red stitching, Vulcano gloss black body kit, red accent stitching, active suspension, power seat bolsters, limited-slip differential, 8-way power front passenger seat, sport rear diffuser, Miron black V-Scudetto grille, 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio, R21 all-season tires, 21-inch dark 5-hole aluminum wheels, aluminum steering column w/paddle shifters, leather dash/upper doors, and gloss-red calipers), $6,100

Moonlight Gray Matte paint, $1,750

Active Assist Plus pkg. (active driving assist, lane-keep assist, intelligent speed assist, traffic sign recognition, active blind-spot assist, driver attention alert, anti-theft system, Alfa connected services), $700

Test vehicle: $59,870

Sources: Alfa Romeo, www.kbb.com

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
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