Fiat Chrysler's Alfa Romeo brand is still establishing itself in the U.S. after being absent from our shores for decades. While the 4C sports car marked the official return of the brand, the Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover are Alfa Romeo's first attempts to sell to a more mainstream crowd.
We sampled the red-hot Stelvio Quadrifoglio last year, but the Stelvio Ti is the volume seller. It doesn't offer the crazy performance or aggression of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but it's still a fun ride and fairly practical. Unfortunately, that's not enough to overcome an underwhelming interior and cabin technology that can't compete with rivals.
Every Alfa Romeo handles well and looks great. That's just a law of the universe, so far as we can tell. The Stelvio Ti is further evidence of this as it's easily one of the best handling SUVs on the market. And while it doesn't pack the 505-horsepower monster motor of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the 280-horsepower four-cylinder engine in the Stelvio Ti provides ample power.
It's also responsive with a quick transmission that helps the Stelvio feel fast around town. Overall, despite riding higher and weighing more than its sedan sibling, the Stelvio performs almost as well. Plus, it's a beautiful ride.
It's also comfortable and practical, with a decent cargo area and enough room for four adults. There's a fifth seat in the middle, but we'd recommend that mainly for children or young adults.
As for the rest of the interior, we love the red leather interior with black and gray accents. It's a stunning combination, especially with the deep white exterior paint and the "Nero Edizione" package that blacks out the trim. Together, it looks every cent of its $60,690 price.
The Stelvio delivers a fantastic sports SUV experience, but we aren't convinced it's the best option for luxury buyers. The interior is far from best in class with materials that don't live up to the price. That was more acceptable in the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which buyers mainly choose for the speed and excitement, but a mainstream luxury SUV should deliver a nicer cabin.
Similarly, the Stelvio doesn't offer the technology that rivals do. We appreciate adaptive cruise control, but there's no semi-autonomous system. Not only do rivals like BMW, Mercedes and Volvo offer fantastic driving assistants, but Alfa's sister brand Maserati offers one in the Levante.
And that's not all. Despite the $60,690 price, the Stelvio didn't have a 360-degree camera, cooled seats or an automatic parking function. That may sound unreasonable to expect, but these are all commonly available on rivals.
Finally, the technology that is there doesn't impress. Alfa's infotainment setup gets less charming the more we use it. It strikes us as absurd that you are supposed to navigate Apple CarPlay — a technology designed to mimic your iPhone — with a knob.
Taken as a sporting SUV, the Stelvio is good. But products like the BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace offer more technology while still delivering a dose of fun, so it's hard to recommend this as a mainstream product.
The truth is that you don't need to spend this much just to get something fun. A Mazda CX-5, for instance, is a fun SUV that looks good. If you're going to spend $60,000 on an Alfa Romeo instead of $35,000 on a Mazda, the Stelvio has to either be significantly more fun or way more refined and well-equipped. It's neither, so we can't recommend it.
Driving Experience: 4
* Rating is out of 5.