Sport-utility vehicles are meant to offer drivers a perceptible balance between performance and utility, but when it comes to genuine sporty performance, many SUVs in the USA don't really hit the mark. Precision steering, strapping acceleration, and adroit dynamic handling characteristics are qualities that such a vehicle should possess, and the 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio possesses them all. With a 280-horsepower turbocharged four-pot motor under the hood, a ZF-sourced transmission, and an extensive selection of finely tuned underpinnings, the Stelvio SUV is a genuinely accomplished and adroit compact cruiser. Its focus on performance does come at the compromise of practicality, however, with the cabin and trunk providing less room and cargo space than other SUVs in the class. Alfa Romeo has also put the Stelvio forward with only a scanty selection of advanced driver assists and turned a blind eye toward build quality. Even so, the 2021 Stelvio is still a thrilling car to drive, but with prestigious competitors such as the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, does it do enough to hide its flaws?
The Stelvio received a significant makeover in 2020. Alfa upgraded the infotainment system and added some additional safety features. The quality of the materials used on certain surfaces was also improved, while the engineers made it a tad more practical by adding some storage spaces for small items. For the 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the Italian automaker has cut the model lineup to three in order to streamline the building process. The most popular features available last year have either been included as standard or as part of a small selection of optional packages. Four new colors were added to the existing color palette: Ocra GT Junior, Rosso GTA, Rosso Villa d'Este, and Verde Montreal. These will be introduced during the course of 2021. The various optional driver-assist features have been reworked into two packages called Active Assist 1 Package or Active Assist 2 Package, both of which add features like adaptive cruise control and active blind-spot assist.
See trim levels and configurations:
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV's 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine and ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission are a dream team. The 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque the engine emits are commanded optimally and efficaciously by the ZF transmission. Acceleration is brisk and remains so throughout the engine's rev range, and shifts remain consistently quick, smooth, and efficient. Power can be forwarded to either a rear-wheel or all-wheel drivetrain in the Sprint model and just an AWD in Ti and Ti Sport models. The Stelvio is rated for a 3,000-pound towing capacity regardless of the drivetrain in play.
Though there are many flaws one could point out with the Alfa Romeo Stelvia, its phenomenal drive characteristics and the fact that this is the first-generation Stelvio ever make those flaws easy to forgive. Its German competitors have all been around for a much longer time and are much more refined, and perhaps even better driver's cars. But, as the first of its kind, the Stelvio is very impressive. It also offers something that those competitors don't quite match - a connectedness between the driver and the car that maybe only seasoned motoring enthusiasts can appreciate. Its brisk acceleration, precise and in-tune steering, and adroit handling dynamics anyone can enjoy. It's really comfortable on the road, too, but its fuel economy returns are rather average for the segment, so there's no highlight there. The 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio hasn't undergone review by any official authority for a crashworthiness or a safety rating.
For the driving enthusiast that needs a car that's larger than their over-used hot-hatch, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is an excellent choice. It is otherwise not the most refined or most practical 5-door SUV out there.
The entry-spec Stelvio Sprint is the model we recommend as it can be equipped with a myriad of sporty cosmetic enhancements, creature comforts, and advanced driver assists and still remain more affordable than the Ti and Ti Sport. The Edizione Sport package outfits the Sprint with a Dark Miron V-shaped grille and Dark Miron mirror caps, a rear valance panel, bespoke badging, monochromatic wheel caps, and gloss-black window moldings and roof rails all for $1,500. The $800 Cold Weather package adds in a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and heated washer nozzles. The Active Assistance 1 package is a must, too. For just $595, it adds auto high-beam headlamp control, active blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, front and rear park assist, lane departure warning, and more. These packages will all add onto the 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV's $41,450 starting price.
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Check out some informative Alfa Romeo Stelvio video reviews below.