Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

A Strong Chas­sis Isn’t Al­ways Enough

Take away the Gi­u­lia Quadri­foglio’s 505-hp en­gine and repack­age the whole car as a cross­over, and you get a much dif­fer­ent beast. In the def­i­nite plus cat­e­gory, the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport didn’t break down on us once, so it cer­tainly has that go­ing for it over the sedan sib­ling we tested.

The 2.0-liter turbo-four is a solid pow­er­plant. It sends up to 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via a well-sorted eight-speed au­to­matic. The sus­pen­sion is tuned well, too, and the steer­ing is sports-car quick, though some thought it felt a bit out of place. Oth­ers loved ev­ery­thing about how it drives and feels; it’s def­i­nitely an en­thu­si­ast’s ve­hi­cle.

“A real sleeper,” St. An­toine noted. “Didn’t see this one com­ing—wow is that a lot of ‘go’ from that lit­tle four-banger. The Alfa just ate up the mountain loop, no sweat.”

But then there’s the unique-to

Alfa in­fo­tain­ment system, which will likely in­fu­ri­ate the av­er­age cross­over buyer. Ac­cu­rately de­scribed by so­cial me­dia edi­tor Billy Re­hbock as “one of the slow­est and least in­tu­itive,” this is an un­nec­es­sary at­tempt by Alfa to sep­a­rate it­self from its cor­po­rate cousins given how good Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles’ Ucon­nect system is.

The rest of the cabin didn’t ex­actly light our fire, ei­ther. “Too ‘cut-rate’ at this price level and do­ing the Alfa badge a dis­ser­vice,” St. An­toine noted. The sparse all-black in­te­rior gen­er­ates a broody vibe, which is not au­to­mat­i­cally a bad thing, but in this case it demon­strates that what works for a sport sedan doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily work for a cross­over.

Con­trib­u­tor Basem Wasef summed up the group’s feel­ings about Alfa Romeo’s first cross­over. “It han­dles well and is un­usu­ally tempt­ing to take onto the track, for an SUV at least,” he said. “The Stelvio just doesn’t yet have quite enough to put it over the top.” — KO

Pho­tog­ra­phy by AN­DREW TRA­HAN

PRICE: $73,595/$87,095 (base/as tested) EN­GINE: 2.9L DOHC 24-valve twin-turbo V-6/505 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 443 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,500 rpm TRANS­MIS­SION: 8-speed au­to­matic LAY­OUT: 4-door, 5-pas­sen­ger, front-en­gine, RWD sedan EPA MILEAGE: 17/24 mpg...

PRICE: $44,990/$55,240 (base/as tested) EN­GINE: 2.0L DOHC 16-valve turbo I-4/280 hp @ 5,200 rpm, 306 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,800 rpm TRANS­MIS­SION: 8-speed au­to­matic LAY­OUT: 4-door, 5-pas­sen­ger, front-en­gine, AWD SUV EPA MILEAGE: 22/28 mpg (city/hwy) L x W...

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