by Karl Furlong
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is proof that labels can be awfully misleading. Just as "sugar-free" or "all-natural" may lead you to believe that you're making healthy choices in the grocery store, the reality is that you're probably being deceived. By the same token, even though the Stelvio Quadrifoglio's spec sheet describes this as an "SUV", nothing about this remarkable vehicle feels SUV-like. This is a sports car that just happens to have a taller body and back seats. The first sign that you've been misled is when you press the red starter button and that tuneful 505-horsepower 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 springs into life. It propels this all-wheel-drive Alfa to 60 mph in only 3.6 seconds. It's also blessed with a poised chassis and communicative steering that make this crossover even more fun to drive than a BMW X3 M. As further proof that this isn't an SUV in the traditional sense, the Stelvio isn't even that spacious at the back, while the trunk is smaller than rivals. Alfa Romeo has duped us and delivered an "SUV" only by name - and that's precisely why we're smitten with the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
For the 2022 model year, the name of the game is simplicity. To this end, Alfa Romeo has dramatically slashed the number of options and packages available by making the most important and popular features standard equipment and offering only a single package and a few standalone options for the rest. This year, additional luxury features seat heating front and rear, a wireless charging pad, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Additional driver-assistance features this year include active blind-spot assist, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Several colors disappear from the list of available exterior paint hues.
See trim levels and configurations:
2.9L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
The 2022 Stelvio Quadrifoglio looks identical to last year's model. This isn't a bad thing as this is one sensuous crossover to look at. The traditional Alfa trefoil grille is flanked by stylish bi-xenon projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights. Numerous sporty touches set apart the Quadrifoglio such as the dual heat extractors on the hood, the quad-exit exhaust outlets, and bespoke rocker panels. Behind those 20-inch alloy wheels are anodized brake calipers with the Alfa Romeo script finished in sporty red. A dual-pane sunroof is available as an option.
The Alfa is similar in size to the BMW X3 M, although it's lower and wider than its German foe. Key dimensions include a length of 185.1 inches, a width (excluding the mirrors) of 77 inches, a height of 66.3 inches, and a 111-inch wheelbase. As the sportiest Stelvio of all, the Quadrifoglio has a reduced ground clearance of 7.9 inches. At 4,313 pounds, the Alfa is nearly 300 lbs lighter than the X3 M thanks to judicious use of carbon fiber, including for the driveshaft.
It's little surprise that Alfa Rosso (red) is the default exterior color on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio; red is Italy's favorite color, after all. But this year it costs $330 and is no longer a no-cost hue. A number of metallics can be had for $660 extra such as Vulcano Black, Vesuvio Gray, and Misano Blue; Silverstone Gray and Montecarlo Blue disappear off this list for 2022. Two pricier options used to be Rosso Competizione Tri-Coat (red) and Trofeo White Tri-Coat for $2,200 each but this year, only the former remains and the latter is dropped. Finally, customers can choose from two additional colors: Ocra GT (ochre), and Verde Montreal (green). Rosso GTA (red) and Rosso Villa d'Esta (two red hues) are dropped.
There is only one powertrain on offer for the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, so Alfa made sure that it gave us something special. The 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 unleashes a mega 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels, allowing the hot Stelvio to reach 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds before powering on to a top speed of 176 mph. That 0 to 60 sprint time is 0.3 seconds quicker than the base BMW X3 M and identical to that of the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S. Using the Alfa DNA Pro system, you can evoke an even more absorbing soundtrack from the exhaust system. This, together with easily repeatable launches, makes the Stelvio Quadrifoglio one of the quickest and most thrilling super SUVs in the business. The Quadrifoglio is a beast on the track, too, having lapped the Nürburgring in a blistering seven minutes and 51.7 seconds.
The Alfa's Ferrari-derived engine is an absolute gem and one of the best powerplants available anywhere. With 2.9 liters of capacity boosted by two turbochargers, the V6 produces 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode and aluminum paddle shifters mounted on the steering column.
It's a joy to use this powertrain. The V6 not only boasts exceptional throttle response but the torque is spread over a broad band, making the performance instantly accessible. Rifling through the gears during aggressive driving is an absorbing experience, with smooth gear changes and a satisfying response when using the paddles. The exhaust system serves as a constant acoustic reminder of the power underfoot, with a series of pops as you accelerate, especially in the racier driving modes. Whether launching from a standing start or blasting past slower vehicles on the highway, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is almost unmatched in its ability to entertain in this segment.
Alfa's reputation for agile, athletic chassis tuning remains firmly intact. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is an absolute blast to drive, and that's not only thanks to its remarkable V6 engine. The super fast steering makes the Stelvio feel lighter than it actually is. In fact, it can take a while to adjust to the Alfa's immediate responses. Of course, the Q4 all-wheel-drive system increases your confidence in less than ideal conditions. Under normal driving, all the available power is directed to the rear axle, with up to 60 percent sent to the front when absolutely necessary.
Regardless of what the AWD system is up to, the driver is always aware of the SUV's exceptional body control, even if its weight means that some lean is detectable through the corners. To customize the driving experience, you can toggle the DNA Pro drive mode selector switch, offering everything from the docile Advanced Efficiency mode to Race mode. The latter unleashes a fruitier exhaust note and reduced intervention of the traction control system. Naturally, you have to be more alert when driving the Stelvio in these settings. A powerful Brembo braking system efficiently brings the SUV to a stop from the high speeds it is capable of reaching.
As bad as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio's economy is, it's not nearly the worst gas guzzler in this segment. According to the EPA, the Alfa will return figures of 17/23/19 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. By comparison, the BMW X3 M only manages 15/20/17 mpg while the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 isn't much better at 15/22/17 mpg. A 16.9-gallon gas tank capacity for the Alfa will see it travel in the region of 321 miles before needing a refill.
The cabin of the sporty Alfa makes a strong first impression. It's attractively styled with a lovely steering wheel, racy dials, and well-bolstered sport seats, while the use of carbon-fiber trim and aluminum strikes all the right notes. It's when you park it alongside some premium competitors that the flaws make themselves known; there isn't an abundance of space in the back seat and the build integrity leaves some room for improvement. As the range-topper, you do get plenty of standard features, though. These include 14-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a powerful Harman Kardon sound system, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen interface with navigation. While design flair seems to have been prioritized over practicality, the Alfa's cabin is far from a dealbreaker.
Seating a maximum of five occupants, the Alfa's sporty seats are a highlight. The leather, power bolsters, and lumbar support for those in front, work well to provide both adequate support and comfort. The cabin does lack the airy feel of other SUVs in this class, though, but space is reasonable. The gloomy atmosphere is exacerbated by the lack of a standard sunroof and the all-black interior trim with no other upholstery options offered. Our only complaint in terms of space relates to the rear headroom, which will be a problem for occupants over six feet tall. While the sporty driving position is a highlight, the driver does have to contend with reduced visibility as a result of the Stelvio's bulky roof pillars. There isn't the clearest rear-quarter view, while the rather tiny rear window is another issue.
As standard, the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio no longer comes with leather/Alcantara seats, but leather only. The default color is black, which cannot be had with contrast stitching in a choice of colors anymore. All the alternative color schemes for the cabin, such as Black/Ice and Black/Red have also been discontinued. For $3,500 extra, Sparco leather/Alcantara race seats can be specified in the same black. They have woven carbon shells. On the Quadrifoglio, the upper door panels and armrest bolster are also finished in leather. Other sporty touches include satin aluminum door sill plates, a leather-wrapped instrument panel, aluminum sport pedals, a steering wheel with perforated leather inserts, and genuine carbon-fiber trim. It's a shame that the red and brown leather available on lowlier Stelvios cannot be specified on the range-topper.
Behind its second row of seats, the Stelvio's narrow cargo area only provides 18.5 cubic feet of space. The BMW X3 M boasts around 10 cubes more space behind its back seats, which is a substantial difference. When the Alfa's 40/20/40-split rear seatback is folded flat, a more useful 56.5 cubes is freed up for larger items.
In terms of storage space for smaller items, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is only average. There is a full-length floor console along with a cargo net in the front tunnel. Both the glovebox and the door pockets are on the small side for a mid-size crossover.
At a base price of nearly $85,000, expectations are high when it comes to the Stelvio Quadrifoglio's feature count. In most respects, the Alfa delivers. It enjoys standard 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, a driver's seat memory function, four-way power lumbar support, and power bolsters. To keep the cabin temperate, a dual-zone automatic climate control system is standard, while rear occupants get their own ventilation outlets and, from this year, standard seat heating too. Along with this, the Alfa comes with a rearview camera, a seven-inch instrument cluster display, a heated steering wheel, push-button ignition, a power liftgate, and the Alfa DNA Pro drive mode selector. On the safety side of things, the crossover boasts blind-spot monitoring with cross-path assistance, tire-pressure monitoring, and forward collision warning. For an added cost, numerous options can be equipped such as adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, driver attention alert, a hands-free liftgate, and heated rear seats. A dual-pane sunroof is available as well.
For the most part, the infotainment system is a thoroughly competitive offering. The 8.8-inch touchscreen isn't large by modern luxury standards, but as we noted in last year's Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio review, the addition of a physical rotary dial and quick responses make it easy to understand and operate. If there is an issue, it's that the small size of some icons can make them difficult to see. The setup includes Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, navigation, HD Radio, five USB inputs (the two rear outputs are charge-only ports), SiriusXM satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. A powerful 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is standard and this year, you won't need to pay extra for a wireless charging pad anymore, because it's included as standard.
J.D. Power last rated the Stelvio Quadrifoglio for reliability in 2019, when the SUV managed a rather disappointing score of 73 out of a possible 100. That same year, the Alfa was recalled four times by the NHTSA for various issues. More promisingly, there has been only one recall for the 2020 model. This was for a rotor and shaft that may separate and cause a loss of ABS functionality; the 2021 model was recalled for the same reason, as well as for a side curtain airbag that may not deploy properly.
Alfa sells the Stelvio with a standard four-year/50,000-mile limited and powertrain warranty, roadside assistance for four years regardless of mileage, and corrosion perforation coverage for 12 years.
Local authorities have yet to evaluate the Stelvio for crashworthiness. However, as an indicator of its safety, Euro NCAP did evaluate the Stelvio when it was launched a few years ago. In that test, the SUV attained a five-star rating, with adult protection rated at a brilliant 97 percent. This is evidence that the Stelvio is a safe SUV in all its configurations.
Out of the box, the new Stelvio Quadrifoglio comes with a total of eight airbags, including curtain airbags for all outboard seating positions and knee airbags for the front two occupants. It also gets brake assist, tire-pressure monitoring, all-speed traction control, electronic stability control, hill-descent control, hill-start assist, front/rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera with useful dynamic gridlines. More advanced safety equipment comprises blind-spot monitoring with cross-path detection and full-speed forward collision warning. This year, the driver-assistance spec sheet is additionally fleshed out with more standard features, namely active blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams. For an added cost, buyers can opt for the Active Assist Plus Package that additionally adds traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, intelligent speed assist, highway assist, lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition, and traffic-jam assist.
As a high-performance SUV with an emphasis on the driving experience, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a true class-leader. Every major element - the powertrain, the chassis, and the steering - not only excels in isolation but blends together with everything else beautifully. That V6 makes a special sound and turns this into an absolute tire-shredder, but thanks to AWD, there's no need to throw away money on tires while still leaving most rival SUVs behind. The playful, well-balanced chassis is a revelation, and the Alfa has looks to die for. If you want a well-rounded luxury SUV, both the BMW and Mercedes provide stonking performance with more space and better build quality at a cheaper price. But are they more memorable? We don't think so.
In most reviews of premium vehicles, we're used to seeing the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz charge a premium for their vehicles over all other rivals, but the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio reverses this trend. It carries a hefty starting MSRP of $84,650 in the USA, and that excludes a destination charge of $1,595. By comparison, the BMW X3 M starts at $69,900 in the US market and the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 begins at around $75,000 - with even the GLC 63 S expected to undercut the Alfa with a 2022 MSRP of around $82,500. Loaded up with options, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio carries a price tag of over $96,000, including destination.
There is a single trim of the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio at the top of the range. It is powered by a Ferrari-developed 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine producing 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, driving all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission and enabling it to sprint to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds.
The Quadrifoglio looks the part with 20-inch alloy wheels, quad-exit exhaust pipes, HID headlights, and LED daytime running lights. A power liftgate is standard and a dual-pane sunroof optional. The interior is available in black only with leather on the seats, 12-way power adjustment in front, and seat heating all around; dual-zone climate control is fitted. Carbon-fiber Sparco racing seats can be optioned in. The infotainment system has an 8.8-inch screen, as well as navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. Standard safety and driver-assistance features are inclusive of eight airbags, forward-collision warning, auto high beams, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors front and rear, and active blind-spot assist.
None of the four packages offered last year can be had for the 2022 model. Standard equipment has been improved and personalization reduced at the same time. However, to equip the more advanced driver-assist safety gear, the Active Assist Plus Package costs $1,000 and comes with active blind-spot assist, driver attention alert, traffic jam assist, traffic-sign recognition, lane-keep assist, and more.
For the rest, only standalone options can be specified and the most interesting ones include a dual-pane sunroof at $1,350, carbon-fiber Sparco racing seats for $3,500, gloss-red brake calipers for $650 and 21-inch alloy wheels for $1,500.
If you already have $85,000 to spend on a new SUV, a few options shouldn't be too much of an issue. For that reason, we'd tick the box for the $1,000 Active Assist Plus Package, as we believe a premium SUV should be equipped with many of the safety items it contains. We'd skip the 21-inch alloys, as they just add an unnecessary edge to the well-balanced ride. Finally, while the Stelvio Quadrifoglio SUV looks good in pretty much any color, it looks great in the cheapest one: Alfa Rosso red.
If you really want to impress the neighbors and prefer your SUV with an even plusher interior, the GLC 63 S isn't a bad way to accomplish both of those goals. It's got a different character to the Stelvio thanks to its 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 engine, but it is just as quick, getting to 60 mph in the same 3.6 seconds. Both SUVs have mediocre trunk capacities, but the GLC boasts a more comfortable and spacious cabin. The Merc's interior is crafted from finer materials and is more advanced, featuring an expansive 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch central display. Both SUVs have rorty exhaust notes and corner more quickly than they should, given their size, but the Alfa's awesome chassis and suspension tuning give it the edge in driving enjoyment. With its slightly lower price and a better reputation for dependability, the GLC seems like the smarter choice, but it's the Alfa that is even more beguiling.
The Alfa officially competes with the smaller BMW X3 M, so is it worth spending the extra money on something larger like the X5 M? At $105,900, the X5 M is comfortably pricier, but that extra outlay does get you a much more sophisticated interior, close to double the cargo space, and a 4.4-liter V8 engine churning out at least 600 horsepower. With the available Competition Package, the big BMW's specs are impressive; it makes 617 horses but will reach 60 mph just two tenths of a second later than the Alfa. Both SUVs have excellent body control and high cornering limits, and whether it's the X5's bassy V8 or the racy V6 in the Alfa, they each sound fantastic. The difference has to do with feel. While the X5 is astonishingly quick, it doesn't communicate much to the driver. It's effective without quite losing that veneer of luxury and isolation. The Alfa is more involving more of the time. If you need a family-friendly SUV with more space, get the BMW. If you want the most fun you can have behind the wheel of an SUV no matter how much space you need to sacrifice, go for the Alfa.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: