Drive Notes: 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale eAWD

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Welcome back to drive notes, which is a Cliff Note's review of vehicles that are currently in, or recently were in, my possession for a test.

Today we have the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale eAWD.


The Tonale is built along its sibling, the Dodge Hornet, in Italy. Unlike the Hornet, the Tonale is available only as a plug-in hybrid, using the same powertrain as the Dodge Hornet R/T. This setup mates a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to a 90 kW electric motor for a system output of 285 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. Alfa promises up to 30 miles of electric-only range.

I've been harsh on the Hornet R/T -- I prefer the internal-combustion GT -- but the driving experience was different with the Alfa. Better in some ways, worse in others. Read on.

Pros

  • The Hornet handles pretty well for a small crossover, and the Tonale feels just as sharp, if not sharper, both in the default drive mode, and in Dynamic.
  • Although it's on the stiff side, the ride never punishes. Even on cruddy Chicago streets.
  • The interior looked, if not felt, slightly upscale from the Hornet.
  • It's quick, though it seems to take the powertrain a second to get sorted when you go from cruising to tromping on it.
  • The powertrain transitions are mostly smooth, though occasionally harsh.
  • That said, the powertrain generally felt much better sorted than on the Hornet R/T.
  • The styling is a bit sexier here than on the similar Hornet.
  • I had no chance to charge, but the Level 2 charging times shown by the trip computer at each shutdown weren't unreasonable. Even on slow charging, you'd be able to juice up overnight.
  • Like with other Stellantis PHEVs, there's an eSave mode to help better manage battery usage.

Cons

  • The were some weird electronic issues. Some I understood -- the constant beeps were warning me that there was a speed camera ahead. But occasionally the ADAS system activated unnecessarily. It was also perplexing to find that the switch that customizes the gauges is on the wiper stalk.
  • Activating the defogger somehow cranked the heat up to Hades. Thankfully, one could just put the climate control back to auto and all would be good again.
  • If you want to hop out of CarPlay to use UConnect, there can be a lot of menu-hopping required to do what you want/need to do. This tester also had more lag than I am used to from the generally excellent UConnect system. It also had 16K miles on it, which is a lot for a press car -- I don't know if that makes a difference, but it does mean this vehicle has been used more than most I test.
  • Rear headroom is a teeny, tiny bit cramped.
  • The vehicle didn't unlock when I was standing right next to it with the keys in my pocket. Not sure if this was a setting -- some vehicles offer customization -- or if keyless entry was failing.

Given the choice between the Hornet R/T and the Alfa, I'd pick the Alfa, and not because it's better-looking -- though it is -- or because of the Alfa brand cachet. It's just more fully baked. That said, there are minor flaws here that will annoy all but the biggest Alfa cognoscenti.

[Images © 2024 Tim Healey/TTAC.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Kwik_Shift_Pro4X on Apr 26, 2024

    I've mentioned before about being very underwhelmed by the Hornet for a $50000+ all in price tag. Just wasn't for me. I'd prefer a Mazda CX-5 or even a Rogue.

  • SPPPP SPPPP on Apr 28, 2024

    I am actually a pretty big Alfa fan ... and that is why I hate this car.

  • Ajla It's weird how surveys come to conclusions like this when about 100% of the responses then mock the results as ridiculous.
  • Jkross22 It very much depends on the dealer. Just bought a replacement for the CX9. A local dealer gave a $500 discount on a CPO car while another one gave a few thousand dollar discount but was out of the area and we had to drive 5 hours to get. The local dealer still seems to think it's 2022 and cars appreciate when sitting on the lot. I wish them luck.
  • Ajla "and the $34K price doesn't seem too steep." Respectfully disagree. This would be okay at $29K. $34k clangs into way too much.
  • FreedMike i puUut pUniZhR sTikKr oNn mY KoMMpAs aNd nOW i hEeR Eegle SkReem. (And no one knows it's made in Mexico.)
  • SCE to AUX What a farce.Besides, "patriotism" has been redefined a hundred different ways in the last 20+ years. Disagree with one of them, and you're a traitor.And for starters, Jeep is a Stellantis brand with its HQ in the Netherlands. If this persistent myth about patriotism is ever cracked, the brand is doomed.
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