One of the best-driving SUVs is now a used bargain.
Many luxury automakers claim that their SUVs drive like sports cars, but more often than not this is pure marketing nonsense. In the case of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, though, it is actually true. The Stelvio, especially in its performance Quadrifoglio guise, is perhaps the sharpest driver's SUV on the market today. It borrows the Giorgio platform from the Giulia sedan, a great place to start, then builds around it with all the makings of a fantastic family vehicle.
A brand-new Stelvio starts at $41,750, which is pretty reasonable within the compact luxury crossover segment. The 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is less attainable, starting at $81,050. But if you are willing to pick up a used one with a few miles on the odometer, there are some amazing deals to be had.
Creating a fun-to-drive SUV is not an easy task, but Alfa Romeo managed to do so at a level only Porsche has been able to achieve previously and at a lower price. This SUV steers like a sports car, and it even rips around the track like one if you opt for the Quadrifoglio. A vehicle named after one of the best driving roads in the world lives up to its namesake. And since the Stelvio is Italian, Alfa's designers weren't going to settle for letting it drive well without also making it beautiful to look at. Very few SUVs cause people to stop and stare, but the Stelvio manages to be poster-worthy without losing practicality.
The Stelvio arrived in the United States for the 2018 model year, and these early examples have already become affordable. We found base Stelvio, Stelvio Sport, and Stelvio Ti models starting in the low-$20,000 price range. That's less than a brand-new Mazda CX-5. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio models are significantly more expensive, though they have also depreciated significantly since they were new. We dug up a few QV models in the mid-$40,000 range with high-mileage, but it seems like most of the lower-mileage examples live in the mid-$50,000 price range.
There is a major caveat with these cars, though; Alfa Romeo's certified pre-owned program is still very young in the US, so many of these cars are being sold as-is with the balance of their four-year/50,000-mile factory warranty. Alfa's CPO warranty adds a five-year/100,000-mile warranty from the in-service date, and that plan can extend up to eight years. We found several CPO Stelvio models starting around $25,000, though we could not find any QV models with the extended warranty.
Do you need your SUV to be blisteringly quick or just reasonably fast? If you answered the latter, the base Stelvio with its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine should offer more than enough pace. This engine produces 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque, which is more than its four-cylinder rivals from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. The four-cylinder Stelvio should return a 5.6-second 0-60 mph time, which is quick enough for most drivers.
Speed freaks will want to opt for the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which ditches the four-banger for a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6. This outstanding engine shares parts with Ferrari and produces supercar output with 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph takes only 3.5 seconds, and the Stelvio QV was once the fastest production SUV around the Nurburgring before others inevitably beat it.
The Stelvio doesn't have the best interior in its segment with competitors like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes GLC offering better materials and technology. But the Stelvio's cabin is far from drab. When finished with black leather, the interior looks pretty bland, but Alfa Romeo offers more exciting tan, grey, and red color options. Some highlights include a perfectly-shaped steering wheel with an integrated start/stop button and column-mounted paddle shifters, like a Ferrari.
Early Stelvio models from 2018 and 2019 miss out on the updated infotainment system from the 2020 facelift, which significantly improved the cabin technology. The Stelvio doesn't shine from the inside, but it's worth the sacrifice for a stunning exterior and top-notch driving experience.
While not class-leading, the Stelvio offers decent practicality. The rear cargo area houses 18.5 cubic feet of space, which is smaller than its German rivals. Fold those seats down, and space grows to a reasonable 56.5 cubes. Rear passenger space is also acceptable with 35.9 inches of legroom and 38.9 inches of headroom.
Fuel economy is fairly reasonable with the four-cylinder engine yielding 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The V6-powered Quadrifoglio is a thirstier beast, only managing 17/23 mpg city/highway.
The Stelvio was a much-needed sales booster for Alfa Romeo in the US, but it still sells in much smaller numbers than its German competitors. Alfa Romeo's losses can be your gain, though, as the Stelvio feels more special due to its rarity and has now depreciated to affordable levels. A standard Stelvio now costs less than a brand-new mainstream crossover, and even the high-powered Quadrifoglio variant is available at a heavy discount. If you want one of the best-driving and prettiest SUVs ever made at a reasonable price, now is the time to buy a used Alfa Romeo Stelvio.