By on September 16, 2019

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio front quarter

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD

2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (505 hp @ 6500 rpm, 443 lb/ft. @ 2500 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

17 city / 23 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

14.1 city / 10.4 highway / 12.4 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

22.6 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $81,590 US / $97,695 CAD

As Tested: $94,190 US/ $110,790 CAD

Prices include $1,595 destination charge in the United States and $2,695 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax  in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.


The exhaust note will suck you in. If you, like most readers of this fine publication, have a healthy appreciation for all things mechanical, you cannot help but be charmed by the baritone rasp of this twin-turbocharged V6.

I know that I was.

Thus, an impromptu road trip to Pittsburgh in the 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio naturally brought me through the Fort Pitt tunnel into the city. Yes, I opened the windows, twisted the drive mode selector to Race, and slapped the paddle shifter down a couple of cogs just to hear that exhaust echo among those tile-lined walls.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio profile

Alfa Romeo’s reentry into the North American car market has been a rocky one, with disappointing sales and high-profile reliability issues staining some seriously cool cars. I’m not here to talk about that – Google will return plenty of hits should you be interested, as will (I’m certain) the comment section below. I’m here to talk about the car.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio front 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio rear

Yeah, I called it a car. Because while the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is indeed 10 inches taller than the Giulia with the same powerplant, it drives so similarly that it’s easy to think of this crossover as a legitimate wagon. Body roll is basically nonexistent, even while driving aggressively. The ride is firm, certainly, but very well controlled – on that road trip to Pittsburgh, I emerged from the cockpit relaxed, ready to drive across another state.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio gauges

The road noise from the big 20-inch tires was minimal, with the faintest of thumps from expansion joints. Further, the optional ($8,000 US) carbon-ceramic brakes stop from high speed with absolutely no drama – thankfully, as a doe rudely decided to stroll across the two-lane without the right-of-way or signaling her intentions. That’s a phone call to the press fleet I’m glad I didn’t have to make.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio rear quarter

Really, I was amazed at how good of a long-haul companion I had in the Stelvio. In a week that found me doing the usual low-speed commute as well as that highway slog, I managed 22.6 mpg – very nearly equaling the EPA highway estimate. No, it’s not a Prius, and premium fuel is required, but considering the incredible performance, this is an impressively livable hotrod.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio dashboard

The four-position driving mode selector on the console changes the character of the car with each click. Clicking to either the D or the Race position, beyond tightening both the suspension and throttle response, opens up the exhaust for more silly sounds. My daughter delighted in full throttle upshifts in Race mode, especially as each shift was accompanied a sound resembling brief but violent flatulence. No, really – she asked me if the car farted.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio center stack

The styling of the Stelvio is quite attractive, with the signature Alfa Romeo grille dominating the front, backed up with aggressive vents on the hood and subtly flared fenders. I’m delighted that Alfa designers have mostly eschewed the typical SUV affectation of flat black plastic lining the wheels and lower body, though there is a bit along the rocker panels that seems out of place.

Plus, the big black 20-inch alloy wheels are some of the best looking fitted to any new car.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio wheel

One place the Stelvio doesn’t quite win is from the rear, but it took me a while to figure out why. A chance encounter in traffic summoned a “Aha!” moment, as the Stelvio was lined up next to a prior-generation Hyundai Santa Fe. Other than the quad exhaust tips, there is a strong resemblance between the tails of these two distinctly different crossovers.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio interior

The interior is a pleasant place to while away the hours on the interstate, though it doesn’t quite stack up against the German competition in terms of luxury. I’m a bit tired of carbon fiber trim in performance vehicles – in this Stelvio Quadrifoglio, it’s so glossy that even if it is indeed “real,” it looks fake. In particular, the carbon trim on the lower inner rim of the steering wheel is silly. The wheel is already rather busy, with several different materials (Alcantara, leather, rubber on the airbag, and metal on the bottom spoke, beyond the carbon) cluttering up everything. I could do without the start button on the wheel as well, though it’s a callback to Alfa’s association with Ferrari. The huge aluminum shift paddles aft of the steering wheel, however, are welcome, as they are child’s play to tap and grab a lower gear no matter the position of your hands on the wheel.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio front seat 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio rear seat

Seating front and rear is comfortable for long drives, even accounting for the firm suspension. I love the subtle green stitching between the leather and Alcantara bits – it’s a very cool little touch. In my review of the four-cylinder Giulia two years ago, I expressed some reservations about the infotainment. However, as I’ve spent more time in more luxury marques over the years, I’ve found that the system is on par with most of them. It’s reasonably intuitive and I never encountered the recalcitrance to react to input commands that I’d experienced a couple of years ago.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio cloverleaf

There’s no question that the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is pricey, and with a spotty track record it could be a gamble. But we all need some adventure in our life. There are few better ways to have a serious sporting vehicle with as much utility and, as we’ve pointed out frequently, most vehicles in this price range are leased. Any lease will likely remain within warranty for the term of the note, so it’s not a serious risk. Plus, it gives poors like me a chance to buy a cheap sexy crossover off-lease in a few years. Win-win.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio badge

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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46 Comments on “2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Review – Sex and the CUV...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Weird little anecdote but on a 3,000 mile plus trip in June from NM to TN to OH and back again by a different route I saw no TourXs other than my own. I did however see more than one Giulia and one Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Buick = exclusivity!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @FreedMike

        So was a Jaguar X-Type wagon… ;-P

        @Kyree

        My own review apparently is languishing in the “[email protected]” box

        What trim level did you drive? It is one car where there are big differences between trim levels in the amount of adjustment you get for the seats. Preferred only has a 2 way lumbar while Essence has an optional 4 way lumbar.

        (To me everything feels like a cave now FYI but then my first car was an GM A-body, the airy greenhouse and sight-lines were the only good things about it.)

        Weirdly (to me) my wife finds the passenger seat so comfortable she has to comment on it regularly and in my Preferred trim the passenger seat is complete manual and only adjusts fore/aft, recline, and height.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I test-drove a Regal TourX last week, before making my new purchase. I thought the TourX was nice from the outside, but felt like a cave and the seating position was uncomfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        It was a Regal TourX Preferred…so mid-grade. I would have wanted one with more features. I would have had to travel ~300 miles to find a loaded Essence with adaptive cruise. Really, it wasn’t the lumbar of the seat; it was the pitch angle relative to the rest of the dashboard. I felt like I was either sitting low, looking up at it, or high up, looking low at it. Seat aside, I just didn’t like the setup of the car. I wanted something with an airier feel. It’s quite possible that a non dark interior color would have done a lot for it.

        Really, I was shopping compact AWD CUVs, but figured I’d look at the TourX, because I’m not at all averse to wagons (having bought two brand-new ones before), and I was sure GM would put some cash on the hood to move the slow-selling TourX out the door. For due diligence, I did ask to drive an Envision, but the dorks at the Buick/GMC dealership couldn’t find the keys to either of the two examples they had in stock.

        Ultimately, I did wind up buying one of those compact CUVs.

        I will give GM props for the redesigned third-gen MyLink/IntelliLink infotainment system in most of their 2019 Buick, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles. It’s a breath of fresh air, in terms of simplicity, and the crisp, flat graphics are pleasing to the eye. The new GM system is easily one of the best in the non-luxury industry.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Sales idiots couldn’t find the keys to an Envision, that’s just sad (for the company/dealership).

          The trim mix on the ground seems to be weird too. My local dealership had an Essence and a Preferred but one of the Albuquerque dealers had about 3 Essences for every Preferred. Guys on the forums reported that dealers around places like Las Vegas had nothing but loaded Essence models.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    So it’s crappy quality but we are not going to talk about it, pricey as hell but we are not going to compare it to for example Tesla Model X, noisy exhaust, but we all need adventures. No, not really. But thanks for that incensere infomercial.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This is good. But Alfa Romeo is soon going to figure out that the customer base for these cars doesn’t care how good they drive at the absolute limits. They care about styling, specs on paper, and being coddled in luxury.

    Having sat in and driven one of these, the interior and build quality are not the making of a near-as-makes-no-difference-to-six-figures car. The X3 M, X4 M, AMG GLC 63, F-PACE SVR, Macan Turbo, and whichever version of the Range Rover Velar competes here (I cannot keep up) all have better interiors, the benefit of larger and more-established dealer networks, probably ride more comfortably for the 95 percent of the time you *aren’t* pretending to be on the Burgerkingring, and don’t so obviously look like hatchbacks on stilts. And most of them cost less, too.

    Meanwhile, your hardcore Alfa fan will just go for the Giulia Quadrifoglio. This is a tough sell.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Looks pretty nice. However, I do see the mismatch between the sports sedan buyer and the luxury SUV buyer. But maybe there is a sub-niche here of luxury SUV buyers who really would like something sportier. I guess we will see.

      I think it looks pretty amazing, but it sure costs a lot. Probably, a lot of driving enthusiasts would be happier with a mid-level Giulia, possibly a NA V6 with a manual for under $40,000. Unfortunately for them, that doesn’t seem to exist.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Kyree, I think you’re wrong on the Giulia if for no other reason than it’s a REALLY cramped interior. Buyers with wallets fat enough for this also are likely to have rear ends that are a size too large for Giulia.

      You know who this is for? BMW wagon buyers who lament the loss of the 3/5 wagons, who don’t like the X1/3/5/6 or the other garbage Bavaria is turning out, and who even more lament that BMW has decided to chase Mercedes.

      In other words, not a lot of people.

      I do hope it sells, but suspect it won’t. There’s not enough of us willing to buy/lease these things new. People up for dropping 90k on a small SUV will just buy a Macan Turbo and go light on options.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        You’re right; the Giulia is cramped.

      • 0 avatar
        nsk

        I think the comment on the target buyer base is spot on. In the U.S., any Alfa is an oddball – but cooler – choice compared to the regular BMW / MB / Audi suspects, so at $90k I think the Stelvio Quad is a hard sell, especially given its reputation for poor reliability coupled with the thin dealer network.

        I really want to like this car, but I think it’s a poorer choice all around compared to an AMG Mercedes, M BMW, or Porsche.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Wealthy people are a actually more likely to have a healthy weight level.

        • 0 avatar
          indi500fan

          I’m sure you are correct. And if you want to see some serious obesity, head to that part of town where supposedly “1 of 3 children goes to bed hungry every night”.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      I won’t buy any of them, because automatic transmission. My husband loves the Giulia and wants the Quadrofoglio, but won’t drive a RWD car in the snowbelt. This gets you the driving experience of the Giulia QF with AWD, which, for him at least, puts it on the list. He says BMWs of all kinds are “boring now,” Audis apparently don’t have enough differentiation from generation to generation, so, “It looks just like the old ones,” and I guess “everybody has a Mercedes.”

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That is a market in which this Stelvio QF shines: people who don’t want to follow the German-leasing lemmings.

        If I didn’t say it already, I love your screen-name, by the way.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Constructive criticism:

    This review, while competently written, gives me no indication of what this car’s like to ***drive***. How’s the handling? How’s the steering? How’s the acceleration? What’s this car’s character? Every review I’ve read about this car indicates it’s absolutely brilliant to drive, but the way this one’s written, it might as well be a RAV4.

    And that’s a shame – this car is special, indulgent, sexy. It’s something that most of us will never get to drive. The write-up should reflect that.

    Chris can definitely write – I’d like to see more in-depth reviews from him.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    I’ve always wanted to do one of these!

    Stylist: We’ve exhausted all resources, Mr. Design Chief, Sir. The Quadrifoglio is complete! She is amazing!

    Design Chief: Not good enough! We’ve doubled your budget and demand a a stronger effort! Chrysler, Fiat and Dodge can wait! Do better!

    *Stylist adds double-vision trim and doubles the circular elements, doubling the price.

    Stylist: Mr. Design Chief, Sir– we’ve doubled our efforts and hope you’ll be impressed with her now!

    Design Chief: PERFECTO!

    Impressive car, no doubt– still looks like a Dart/Ottimo taken to the tailor’s.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’m not the guy who generally whines about turbo engines but 500 hp out of less than 3 liters would give me pause. I knew the Quadrafoglios had tubro V6s but I didn’t realize they were so diminutive.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    “I’m not the guy who generally whines about turbo engines but 500 hp out of less than 3 liters would give me pause.”

    It’s been said before, but bears repeating: With modern turbo engines it’s no longer useful to think about horsepower per liter numbers. These simply don’t have the meaning that they did with naturally aspirated engines.

    My lightly tuned Golf R develops 355 hp out of its turbo 2 liters — a slightly higher specific output than the Stelvio QF — yet it has boatloads of low end torque with no loss of drivability (see https://www.getunitronic.com/imgs/dyno/big/Unitronic-Stage1-GolfR-S3-20TSI-MQB-2.jpg).

  • avatar
    thornmark

    if you want one, buy it used, it will be cheaper than a Rogue in short order

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    used trackhawk FTW

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Personally, I’d pass on a used Trackhawk that’s had an unknown number of Cars and Coffee smoky burnouts, curb hits and God only knows what kinds of other abuse heaped on it.

      YMMV, but for cars like that, I’d go with something new, and if I couldn’t afford something new, I’d pass. Ditto for Hellcats, GT350s, and so forth.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Right. On paper, the Trackhawk (which, by the way, is quite a bit larger than this car) competes with the European stuff. In reality, it seems extremely lowbrow to a lot of the clientele for these cars, and attracts a different crowd. Especially if you have to deal with the chaos that is an FCA dealership (as I did, until recently). The Grand Cherokee is definitely one of those cars that transcends cultural barriers, but that starts to fall apart as you get into the SRT versions…which generally have the same buyer base as the SRT sedans and coupes do (people that *aren’t* buying M4s and 911s).

  • avatar

    Spending $94,000 on an Alfa Hatchback is a stupid idea. Buy a real luxury SUV or a real luxury sports saloon.

    This is compromised in its mission, and the interior is nowhere near where it should be.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      My thoughts exactly. And I doubt Alfa is even able to offer competitive lease rates.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      In fairness, I think spending that kind of money on any of the QF’s competitors (Porsche Macan, etc) is an equally silly idea, but then again, I doubt any of them would be as temperamental as this car no doubt is.

      (On another topic…wait until the second owner figures out how much a carbon ceramic brake job is…)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I test drove the 2.0T version of the Stelvio in 2017. I love the looks, and the build quality was very good.

    But the interior was cramped, with hard surfaces throughout. The engine (280 HP) was sluggish off the line, and the 8-speed transmission did a lot of shifting on the hills of western PA.

    But the worst part was the brakes, which have some sort of ECU connection between the pedal and the wheels. They were non-linear and unpredictable. At one point, the vehicle wouldn’t stop until the middle of an intersection. Maybe this was addressed with their recall on this system.

    Worth noting: On the same day, I test drove a Chevy Bolt and a Kia Niro. The Niro was the clear favorite among my sons and me.

    Perhaps the Stelvio Quad and its trimmings fix most of these complaints.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Quadrifoglios are the only Alfas that make any sense to me. It gives you 75% of a Ferrari V8 for 30% of the price. The GT350 and HD Diesel trucks are probably the only engines this exotic available new for under $90K.

    It’s the normal Alfas that seems like a tough sell. Those are in the $40K range so it’s a bigger life event when they diva out and you get the engine shared with a Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ve heard lots of Real Bad Stuff about the QF, but does anyone have any reliability data on the base Giulia?

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        Giulia Ti AWD and occasionally read the message boards. I had a well-documented issue at 1k miles with the battery putting out the wrong voltage, but haven’t had so much as a shudder on a cold start in the 18k miles since. From what I’ve read online, the 2017 Giulia 2.0s were a bit of a mess but the 2018s and later haven’t had any notable issues. The QFs appear to be where most of the serious issues have come up; I absolutely adore my Giulia but I wouldn’t buy the QF unless I had a nearby dealer and an E-Class wagon sitting next to it in the garage.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Ironically its so bulbous it looks just like the grossly overweight skanks who will buy it.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Drove this and the Giulia counterpart. It is wonderful. Yes, it is Italian so yes, it will have personality and will likely spend some time at the dealer.

    But you get it or you don’t. If you do they are the sort of car you come out from a grueling day at work and smile when you first see it. You wear that smile all the way home.

    If you don’t get it, just buy one of those Lexus SUV things, you’ll be happier. But if your automotive life isn’t ruled by the Consumer Reports dots and you’ve done well enough to not lose sleep over the Italian ownership bit, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. These are some of the last cars that I would classify as “having a soul”.

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    So basically an SUV with a Ferrari F40 engine under the hood. Strange days.

  • avatar
    fourthreezee

    This Signed: Former Mercedes SL class, S class, CLK 55 owner (all with extensively use aftermarket warranties once the manufactures warranty expired).


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