2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - Love at first exhaust note.


Born from the world's greatest driving road, Stelvio Pass, this Alfa Romeo shook things up in the mid-size crossover segment when it arrived for the 2018 model year. Known for its performance heritage, the five-passenger Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, built in Italy, does not disappoint. From the moment I started the Stelvio Quadrifoglio I knew it would be a fun week. Instantly the Quadrifoglio exhaust sound let's people know there's something special under the hood of this crossover.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio comes with a Ferrari derived twin-turbocharged V6 engine that nets 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque.  With a 0-60 speed of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 176 miles per hour it's just a tad more exciting than a Lexus RX or BMW X3.  Stelvio and Stelvio Ti models feature an all-aluminum, 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbocharged engine with standard 280 horsepower and 306 lb.-ft. of torque, allowing it to launch from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds which is also impressive. As expected, an engine like this requires premium grade fuel and gets 17 MPG city / 23 MPG highway. In my suburban driving for a week, I averaged 20 MPG.

To further enhance the performance of the Stelvio, there are various drive modes that can be selected. Unique to Alfa Romeo is the 'DNA' designation for these modes which stand for dynamic, natural, and advanced efficiency. As a bonus in the Quadrifoglio there is also a RACE mode which provides a pitch perfect exhaust note that will turn heads as the car launches from a standstill. With state-of-the-art torque performance technologies such as a torque vectoring rear differential, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio provides precise steering and a thrilling driving experience. Throw in some raspy pops from the exhaust as you get going and the sounds match the performance.

The Stelvio is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and comes standard with rear wheel drive, but offers an optional all-wheel drive system. The Stelvio glides through all eight gears like butter. It handles like a sports car on the highway as you merge into traffic or during passing.  There was no body roll as this crossover feels grounded to the pavement and meant for a race track. When in race mode, the Stelvio seems to have a boost of nitrous as you hit the gas pedal and fly past other drivers. For added fun in the Stelvio, select manual mode and utilize the aluminum paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel with gear shifts in less than 100 milliseconds. These may be some of the largest paddle shifters I've seen on a vehicle and are ones I found extremely easy to get used to.  

As easy as it is to get the Stelvio going, stopping is no problem either. The Quadrifoglio came equipped with optional $8,000 Brembo Ultra High Performance CCM Brakes. Added to these performance-oriented brakes were gloss yellow calipers with the Alfa Romeo name inscripted on them.
The exterior of the Stelvio hasn't changed much since it debuted, however there are some newly available body-color appearance kits that add fender flares, side sills, and rear fascia.  My test car also came in an all new color, Anodized Blue Metallic which drew several positive comments. Also new to the color pallet is Lunare White Metallic. Like all Alfas, the front profile of the Stelvio is unmistakable and where (in my opinion) the style of this crossover shines. Starting with its prominent grille, this car looks ready to rumble. The profile resembles more of a beefed-up hot hatch than a crossover with a sloped rear C-pillar. Visibility from the inside is hindered slightly by this design which will require drivers to utilize the cameras and mirrors when backing into spaces.  Around back the design is unassuming and I think your average driver would think this is just another crossover.  Look closely at the details and you'll notice the lower valance of the Quadrifoglio highlights the quad exhausts. I also think Alfa also has some of the best-looking wheel designs on the road. The Quadrifoglio came with 20" dark gray five-hole wheels wrapped in 255/45 Pirelli P Zero tires that give it the final touch to highlight it's sportiness. Look for the 4-leaf clover badge on any Alfa as its designation for the Quadrifoglio performance model.

Inside the 2020 Stelvio is where Alfa Romeo has made significant updates to provide an interior environment that matches the premium power under the hood. Now standard on all Stelvios is an 8.8-inch center touchscreen with higher resolution graphics along with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. integration. Alfa's infotainment system offers configurable widgets that can operate through the touch screen or via a jog dial in front of the gear shift knob. The system takes a little time to get used to, but once you learn the how to navigate between screens such as the audio, climate controls, maps or vehicle performance specs, it's fairly intuitive.

Also updated inside the Stelvio is a new center console, leather wrapped gear shifter, and steering wheel that are more upscale than the first generation. Small touches like the green & white stitching, carbon fiber finishes and aluminum trim give it a distinctive style.  2020 model enhancements also provide more storage capacity, upgraded bezel finishes an available wireless mobile phone charging pad. Placement of the wireless charging pod among the gear shift, drive mode selector and the infotainment jog dial wasn't ideal but it did work.  A nice touch was the addition of a volume knob at hands reach near the gear selector.

Hopping in the Stelvio Quadrifoglio driver seat you'll be treated to leather and Alcantara seats at minimum, or as a $3,500 upgraded option (like my test car) you can get Sparco leather / Alcantara race seats.  The seats seem to swallow you (in a good way) while offering good support and comfort.  As an added option for rear seat passengers, the Stelvio offers heated second row seats.  Rear seats can accommodate three, but it would be a tight fit for average to larger size adults. Three kids, however, sat comfortably in the back seats.

Cargo capacity behind the second row is 18.5 cu. ft. which is smaller than some competitors. With the second row folded flat you'll get 56.5 cu. ft. which is still on the lower scale but it is enough for some luggage and golf clubs.

Along with all of the interior and technology updates for 2020, Alfa Romeo has also improved the Active Driver Assistance Package to include more standard features. Now available on all Stelvios is highway assist, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist, active blind spot assist, and driver attention alert. The driver attention alert is an advanced algorithm that monitors the driver's attention and provides an alert in the form of a coffee cup that lights up on the dash. Also standard is forward collision warning plus which uses audio and visual warnings to help alert drivers and will apply the brakes when necessary.  The traffic sign recognition is also a great feature that will display the current speed limit within the driver information digital cluster display and as an added bonus it may save you from a speeding ticket if you're cruising in race mode.

The Stelvio comes with a few other quirks that took some getting used to. First and foremost is the placement of the push button start which is on the left side of the steering wheel. Secondly, the battery for this car is in the back under the cargo floor of the trunk space. And finally, if any warning lights come on (such as the check engine) it will disable the dynamic and race modes in the car. The latter happened while driving the Stelvio which turned out to be a needed software update that the dealer was able to implement and turn off the light after a quick visit.  

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio comes in seven trim levels known as the base, Sport, TI, TI Lusso, TI Sport, TI Sport Carbon and Quadrifoglio. Prices start at $41,400 for the base model in RWD (AWD is a $2,000 option) and climb to starting price of $80,500 for the Quadrifoglio. My test car came in at $96,540 with options such as the Brembo brakes, Sparco Leather race seats, upgraded dark 5-hole wheels, carbon fiber accents, an active driver assist package and more.  With a price range swing of over $50,000 be sure to visit alfaromeo.com and use their build & price tool to configure one that suits your wants and make sure it also suits your wallet. Competition in this segment is always growing and features other models such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Lexus RX, Porsche Maycan, and Volvo XC60. When you opt for the Stelvio you get a bold style with a front end that will draw attention and you get a vehicle tuned for driving excitement. Focusing specifically on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, it is at home in the suburbs as well as on the race track. This crossover was very photogenic and had people lining up to take a look or asking for a ride.

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.