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William Maley

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Is An Italian Take On the Luxury SUV: Comments

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"It has been long time coming" could be Alfa Romeo's slogan for the U.S. considering how long it has taken the brand to make a return here. But it is also an apt description for their first SUV, the 2018 Stelvio which debuted today at the LA Auto Show.

Design-wise, the Stelvio is a taller, more practical version of the Giulia sedan. From the narrow headlights and triangular grille up front, to the sculpted lines along the side, Alfa is making sure the DNA of the Giulia is extended to other models. The interior is the same as Giulia with a similar design for the dash, a 6.5-inch touchscreen (an 8.8-inch screen comes standard on higher trims), and leather seats.

Let's talk powertrains. The Stelvio and Stelvio Ti (Turismo Internazionale) will come with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio features the twin-turbo 2.9L V6 with 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Alfa says the Stelvio Quadrifoglio will hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds - a tenth slower than the Giulia Quadrifoglio. No matter the engine, an eight-speed automatic and Alfa's Q4 all-wheel drive system will come standard. Alfa's DNA drive mode system will feature three different drive modes to alter settings for the engine, transmission, and steering. The Quadrifoglio will get four different modes.

Like the Giulia, the Stelvio uses the Giorgio platform that promises a near 50/50 weight distribution front and rear. Many body panels, suspension components, and chassis are made out of aluminum in an effort to save weight.The Quadrifoglio gets an an adaptive suspension, which is optional on the other trims.

Alfa Romeo hasn't announced a release date or pricing for the Stelvio. Considering their track record of missing dates, this might be a wise decision.

Source: Alfa Romeo 
Press Release is on Page 2


Born From the World’s Greatest Driving Road – Stelvio Pass – the All-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Sets a New Benchmark in Performance, Style and Technology in an SUV That Could Only Be Italian 

  • The SUV for the S-Curves: Built in Italy, the Top-of-the-line Stelvio Quadrifoglio Delivers a Class-leading 505 Horsepower and 0-60 in Just 3.9 Seconds
  • Building on the excitement of the award-winning 4C and the all-new Giulia premium mid-size sedan, Alfa Romeo – the heart and soul of the automotive industry – introduces the all-new Stelvio premium mid-size SUV
  • The all-new Stelvio is the second of a new lineup of vehicles built off a world-class architecture that embodies the brand’s La meccanica delle emozioni (the mechanics of emotion) spirit
  • Stelvio and Stelvio Ti models feature an all-new, all-aluminum, 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbo engine delivering a class-leading, standard 280 horsepower and 306 lb.-ft. of torque, allowing it to achieve a top speed of 144 mph
  • Stelvio Quadrifoglio – the “halo” model in the lineup – continues to highlight Alfa Romeo’s performance and motorsport expertise with best-in-class 505 horsepower, powering it from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 177 mph
  • State-of-the-art technologies, including Alfa DNA Pro selector, torque vectoring differential, Chassis Domain Control (CDC), and aluminum column-mounted paddle shifters with 100 millisecond shifts, maximize the all-new Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s driving pedigree
  • The innovative Q4 all-wheel-drive (AWD) system – standard on all Stelvio models, including the Quadrifoglio, provides additional driving confidence and superior control
  • Iconic Alfa Romeo design and genuine Italian craftsmanship combine to create a premium mid-size SUV that truly stands apart
  • Stelvio offers innovative safety and security features and leverages advanced driver-assist features, including Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus
  • Crafted by Alfa Romeo artisans at the Cassino plant in Frosinone, Italy

November 16, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - As the second of a new generation of vehicles built on an all-new platform, the 2018 Stelvio epitomizes Alfa Romeo’s La meccanica delle emozioni (the mechanics of emotion) spirit, delivering race-inspired performance, real-world driving confidence, state-of-the-art technologies, seductive Italian style and an exhilarating driving experience to the premium mid-size SUV segment.

“The all-new Stelvio, named after one of the greatest driving roads in the world – the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps – sets a new benchmark for the segment,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Alfa Romeo. “Stelvio is uniquely engineered to challenge two-door sports cars on the track, without sacrificing any of the characteristics you would expect from a premium SUV, resulting in the perfect mix of high performance, capability and Italian design.”

Infused with Italian passion, craftsmanship and innovation, the all-new Alfa Romeo Stelvio will conquer the winding road for which it is named.

Three exhilarating, capable Stelvio models showcase Alfa Romeo’s captivating mix of Italian performance, style and technology
Crafted by Alfa Romeo artisans at the Cassino plant in Italy, the all-new 2018 Stelvio lineup is a testament to Alfa Romeo’s perfect balance of engineering and emotion, creating a premium mid-size SUV for driving enthusiasts that stands out in one of the largest and fastest growing segments in the U.S.

Stelvio and Stelvio Ti
The true manifestation of Italian performance, craftsmanship and design, the all-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Stelvio Ti models provide a wide-ranging list of standard features, including an all-aluminum, 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbo engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission, delivering a class-leading, standard 280 horsepower and 306 lb.-ft. of torque, class-exclusive carbon fiber driveshaft, dual exhaust with bright tips, 18-inch aluminum wheels (available 19- and 20-inch wheels), leather seating, backup camera with rear park sensors, power liftgate, Formula One-inspired flat-bottom steering wheel with integrated push button start and much more.

In addition to the expansive list of standard features in the all-new Stelvio, Stelvio Ti adds even more luxury and convenience offerings, including standard 19-inch wheels, genuine wood interior accents and an 8.8-inch widescreen infotainment display. Available Sport and Lusso packages provide drivers with two unique offerings that further accentuate the bold characteristics of Stelvio Ti.
 
Stelvio Quadrifoglio
With the most powerful Alfa Romeo production engine ever, Stelvio Quadrifoglio highlights Alfa Romeo’s performance and motorsport pedigree as the “halo” model in the lineup.

The heart and soul of this ultra-high performance SUV is an all-aluminum, direct-injection 2.9-liter 24-valve bi-turbo intercooled V-6 engine, delivering a best-in-class 505 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque, and a standard Q4 all-wheel-drive system.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio includes exclusive high-performance and functional exterior design elements, plus unique performance suspension, brakes and wheels. Inside, high performance leather and Alcantara front seats, featuring 12-way power and adjustable thigh support, provide the optimal control center. Additional features include a Quadrifoglio-exclusive leather-wrapped steering wheel with accent stitching and performance contours, leather-wrapped instrument panel with accent stitching and carbon fiber interior trim.

Advanced technology features unique to the Stelvio Quadrifoglio include a four-mode Alfa DNA Pro selector with Race mode, torque vectoring differential, Quadrifoglio-tuned adaptive suspension, Quadrifoglio instrument cluster with 200 miles per hour (mph) speedometer and cylinder deactivation system.

Ultra-high performance options for Stelvio Quadrifoglio include:

  • Ultra-lightweight carbon fiber shell Sparco racing seats, providing maximum lateral support during extreme cornering thanks to more aggressive bolstering, and designed to be the lightest in the segment, while providing comfort for long road trips 
  • Ultra-high-performance Brembo carbon-ceramic material (CCM) brake system

Driver-centric capability and performance 
The Stelvio’s intuitive interior is fully committed to the driver’s every need, offering easy access to vital and next-level technologies. A Formula One-inspired steering wheel features a thick-rim profile that transmits the chassis’ direct-steering feel and neatly groups the vehicle controls and the engine start button. Behind the steering wheel, the Stelvio features available all-aluminum column-mounted paddle shifters and a standard full-color 7-inch thin film transistor (TFT) cluster display straddled by two large white-on-black face analog gauges.

Conveniently located in the center console are two simple rotary dials. The first controls Alfa’s DNA Drive Mode system with three unique driver selectable modes (Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficiency), which can be used to fine tune the driving experience by adjusting throttle response, boost pressure and suspension settings in Stelvio and Stelvio Ti. Stelvio Quadrifoglio adds a fourth mode – Race – with its exclusive DNA Pro Drive Mode system.

The secondary rotary dial controls the high-resolution 6.5-inch, or 8.8-inch, wide-screen infotainment system with real-time vehicle performance pages and telemetry, plus 3-D graphic navigation that recognizes handwritten gestures on the top of the rotary pad (late availability), allowing the driver to easily interact with the 3-D Navigation system.

With easy access to vital technologies in mind, all Stelvio models will feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

State-of-the-art engines are the beating hearts of each and every Alfa Romeo 
Every Stelvio, Stelvio Ti and Stelvio Quadrifoglio is powered by best-in-class all-aluminum engines that embody the brand’s passion for next-level technology and state-of-the-art performance.

Best-in-class 280 horsepower with all-aluminum Alfa Romeo turbocharged four-cylinder engine
Featured in the all-new 2018 Stelvio and Stelvio Ti models, an all-aluminum 2.0-liter direct-injection, 16-valve, turbocharged and intercooled engine, designed specifically for Alfa Romeo, delivers a best-in-class 280 horsepower, along with world-class levels of performance, efficiency and refinement.

To deliver its best-in-class 280-horsepower output and flat torque curve with 306 lb.-ft. of torque available between 2,250 – 4,500 rpm, the state-of-the-art engine features exceptional turbo responsiveness thanks to a “2-in-1” turbocharger design, with the charging system driven through two pipes, which gathers exhaust gas from pairs of cylinders in an alternating sequence.

Performance and fuel economy of these engines are fostered by the MultiAir electro-hydraulic variable-valve actuation technology, a direct-injection system with 2,900 PSI injection pressure, a water-cooled cylinder head integrated manifold and a water-cooled charge air cooler.

Best-in-class 505-horsepower all-aluminum 2.9-liter bi-turbo V-6 engine 
Arriving to the premium mid-size SUV segment is the most powerful Alfa Romeo production engine ever, with an all-aluminum 2.9-liter direct-injection bi-turbo V-6 serving as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s “heart and soul.”
 
Designed to optimize the all-new lightweight Alfa Romeo architecture, the all-aluminum 2.9-liter V-6 bi-turbo engine features a compact 90-degree layout and was holistically designed for a low center of gravity within the chassis.

To deliver a best-in-class 505 horsepower and a flat torque curve with 443 lb.-ft. of peak torque available between 2,500 – 5,500 rpm, the state-of-the-art engine features a bi-turbo design. In addition, the engine’s turbochargers are integrated into the exhaust manifold and feature a low-inertia, single-scroll turbo design with variable-boost management for ultra-responsive throttle response. A direct-injection system maximizes fuel combustion for improved engine output and efficiency.

For improved fuel efficiency, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio features a Cylinder Efficient Management (CEM) deactivation system, which enables the engine to run on three of its six cylinders.

Crafting control: Q4 all-wheel drive (AWD)
The intelligent Q4 all-wheel-drive system – standard on all Stelvio models, including Quadrifoglio – delivers even more all-season traction and performance capability, thanks to the system’s ability to transfer up to 60 percent of the engine’s torque to the front axle.
 
The innovative Q4 AWD system is linked to the Stelvio’s Chassis Domain Controller (CDC) and driver-adjustable Alfa DNA or DNA Pro (Quadrifoglio exclusive) drive mode system – enabling the driveline’s next-generation integrated actuator to adapt to changing ground conditions or driver need in milliseconds, and instantly optimize the required torque to each wheel.

Italian ingenuity with broad use of lightweight materials 
Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s architecture extensively integrates lightweight, state-of-the-art materials that enable and deliver near perfect 50/50 weight distribution, segment-leading torsional rigidity and the most direct steering available.

Alfa Romeo engineers designed a lightweight rear-wheel-drive platform with a low center of gravity – all to deliver the high-performance and precision expected from an Alfa Romeo.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s aluminum front and rear vehicle frames, front shock towers, brakes, suspension components, doors and fenders also help shed weight compared to conventional steel. For example, the rear cross member features an extensive use of lightweight materials, including aluminum and composite.

An Alfa Romeo exclusive double wishbone front suspension with semi-virtual steering axis guarantees rapid and accurate steering feel. With the most direct steering ratio in the segment, Alfa Romeo Stelvio can tackle high lateral accelerations as a result of the always perfect footprint. At the rear, a patented Alfa-link rear axle design with vertical rod ensures top performance, driving pleasure and passenger ride comfort.

State-of-the-art technologies add to a premium SUV that only Italy could create
Competing at a world-class level requires the highest attention to detail, including the use of next-level technologies that continually please and impress the center of Stelvio’s universe: the driver.

Q2 Mechanical Limited-Slip Differential
This new feature – included within the Performance Package – is a rear mechanical limited-slip differential that optimizes rear-wheel traction. The Q2 differential balances the machine torque, which works on the SUV’s rear axle. This system provides the proper level of torque to one of the two rear wheels based on traction conditions.
 
Chassis Domain Control (CDC)
The “brain” of Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s benchmark-level dynamics can be attributed to its innovative Chassis Domain Control (CDC) system. The CDC system coordinates all of the vehicle’s available active systems (stability control, torque vectoring differential and Alfa Active suspension system), using predictive-type dynamic models to deliver balanced, safe and natural driving, thus optimizing performance and drivability.

Integrated braking system (IBS)
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio features a segment-first integrated braking system, replacing a traditional system of electronic stability control (ESC) and brake booster for even more instantaneous braking responsiveness. The innovative electromechanical system improves braking performance through a faster increase in pressure and makes it possible to vary brake feel jointly with the Alfa DNA Pro system. As a result, this lightweight technological solution delivers new levels of brake response and stopping distance.
 
Alfa DNA and Alfa DNA Pro drive mode selectors
Innovative Alfa DNA drive mode system and Alfa DNA Pro (Quadrifoglio exclusive) drive mode selectors modify the dynamic behavior of the vehicle, according to the driver’s selection:

  • Dynamic: delivers sharper brake and steering feel with more aggressive engine, transmission and throttle tip-in calibrations
  • Natural: comfort setting for balanced daily driving
  • Advanced Efficiency: eco-friendly mode to achieve the lowest fuel consumption
  • Race: exclusive to Alfa DNA Pro, this mode activates the over-boost function, opens up the two-mode exhaust system, turns ESC off and delivers sharper brake and steering feel with more aggressive engine, transmission and throttle tip-in calibrations

Thanks to the interaction with the Chassis Domain Control, Alfa DNA Pro instantaneously adapts car behavior to the selected driving mode.
 
Torque vectoring
Torque vectoring makes it possible for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio to achieve higher performance during lateral acceleration. The rear differential optimizes torque delivery to each wheel separately for improved power delivery, traction and control on all types of road surfaces, without cutting power like traditional systems.

Alfa Active suspension system
Available on Stelvio Ti and standard on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, this innovative four-channel chassis damping system instantly adapts to driving conditions and can be adjusted by the driver via the Alfa DNA selector. This technology allows for a setting of softer shock absorbers for a more comfortable drive, or a more rigid setting for more accuracy in sports driving.

Peace of mind: safety and security
The all-new Alfa Romeo Stelvio offers innovative safety and security features and leverages advanced driver-assist features.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio offers safety and security features that include:

  • Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus: provides autonomous braking and, under certain circumstances, slows or brings the vehicle to a full stop when frontal collision appears imminent
  • Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus with Full Stop: helps maintain distance from the vehicle ahead and, under certain traffic conditions, the system can bring the Stelvio to a full stop without driver intervention
  • Lane Departure Warning: alerts the driver of inadvertent lane departure

To help rear visibility both on the road and in parking situations, Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection and front- and rear-park assist sensors are available.

In addition, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio features advanced multistage driver and front-passenger air bags, driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side air bags, front and rear side curtain air bags, and driver and front-passenger inflatable knee air bags.

Italian style, inside and out
In true Italian fashion, the all-new Stelvio allows owners to customize their performance SUV with up to 13 exterior colors; seven wheel choices, ranging from 18 inches to 21 inches; and an almost endless selection of interior color and trim choices.

For sophisticated music lovers, the refined Harman Kardon Premium Audio System is offered on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, which delivers detail-rich audio output. The heart of the Sound Theatre system is a 900-watt 12-channel class D amplifier, which distributes clear sound through a system of 14 speakers for superior audio quality. Harman Kardon’s Logic 7 sound technology is used to secure a surround effect from different high-resolution sources and harmoniously uniform stereo playback. With this sound system, occupants can experience the premium quality for which Harman Kardon is renowned.

With the all-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio, where other SUVs stop at utility, Alfa Romeo took on the challenge to create the perfect mix of high performance, capability and design.


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Another niche product that no one wanted or needed is coming from FCA? This is the way you bankrupt a company.

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So true, no one has asked except the Italian Unions to restart the dead Alfa brand. FCA quality sucks, this SUV is clearly stuck with dual identities, parts want to be a luxury brand, other parts want to be boy ricer racer.

On top I suspect way over priced for a car with terrible history and Meh engines.

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Small crossover is a booming segment, but I don't think this will match up to what BMW and Mercedes are already selling.  And really, Alfa Romeo has the same problem as Dodge/Chrysler.  Alfa Romeo in unable to compete with BMW, Benz and Audi, just like Dodge/Chrsyler can't compete with Honda, Toyota and Ford.  

This thing has a ton of power which is great, but they'll charge $80,000 for the V6, and you can get a Porsche or AMG product for that money, and you'll get the performance, with better reliability and better interiors, resale, etc.

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So they can take their sales of 0 crossovers and make it 100?

 

That's like an infinite increase in sales. Wow, such a massive increase in sales.

 

(I'm just being sarcastic.....bleh)

 

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I feel like these Alfas will never go on sale, and if they do arrive at dealerships they'll be limited supply, limited options, and just no exposure or marketing dollars and no one will buy them.  You should be able to sell any crossover in the thousands with ease, people walk blindly to buy the things, but someone Alfa will be the one to build a crossover with sluggish sales.

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With FCA getting rid of some models already, it might actually come this time!

 

I could see it having a chance here in the US....

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12 hours ago, Suaviloquent said:

So they can take their sales of 0 crossovers and make it 100?

 

That's like an infinite increase in sales. Wow, such a massive increase in sales.

 

(I'm just being sarcastic.....bleh)

 

Right!!!!!, all for the lowly sum of raping billions from the American divisions that could have been put back into building even better established products.

FCA's way of keeping their failed socialist system going in Europe with minimal give back to the system.

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13 hours ago, Suaviloquent said:

So they can take their sales of 0 crossovers and make it 100?

 

That's like an infinite increase in sales. Wow, such a massive increase in sales.

 

(I'm just being sarcastic.....bleh)

 

Sarcasm always seems to have a basis in reality....

1 hour ago, dfelt said:

Right!!!!!, all for the lowly sum of raping billions from the American divisions that could have been put back into building even better established products.

FCA's way of keeping their failed socialist system going in Europe with minimal give back to the system.

I tend to agree with hyperV6, the end will not be good.

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I'd bet Jeep has a much better chance of selling performance oriented RWD Crossovers that Alfa ever could.

 

I mean, like really. Jeep already has a following for Trail-rated, Trailhawk and SRT.

 

Not much more of a push to get into on-road performance.

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Jeep is know for off road though, not performance.  And I don't think the folks at the Dodge-Jeep wing of FCA can make a Jeep go around corners like this Alfa probably can.  The only rear drive Jeeps are the Wrangler which isn't doing anything with performance and the Grand Cherokee, the Cherokee, Compass and Renegade are front drive Fiats and Darts.

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Alfa should have been left dead. Close Fiat and reinvest all those billions stolen into new product for the real money makers of FCA.

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26 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

Jeep is know for off road though, not performance.  And I don't think the folks at the Dodge-Jeep wing of FCA can make a Jeep go around corners like this Alfa probably can.  The only rear drive Jeeps are the Wrangler which isn't doing anything with performance and the Grand Cherokee, the Cherokee, Compass and Renegade are front drive Fiats and Darts.

What I meant is that a badge engineered derivative of an Alfa platform Jeep would sell like hotcakes.

Jeep has the luxury to reinvent itself whenever it wants, as long as Sergio would allow. People want MOAR and MOAR Jeep.

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On 11/18/2016 at 11:33 PM, Suaviloquent said:

What I meant is that a badge engineered derivative of an Alfa platform Jeep would sell like hotcakes.

Jeep has the luxury to reinvent itself whenever it wants, as long as Sergio would allow. People want MOAR and MOAR Jeep.

Jeep has to have done the best job actually marketing their products of any automaker. 

VW did a fantastic job with creative adverting int he 1960's, but interestingly enough Subaru has totally stolen their vibe of the offbeat car you buy if you are somewhat less than traditional.

This product kind of fits in with FCA DNA in terms of them offering a lot of creative truckish and SUVish products.

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I mean, it's not like they would forgo any off road tech. Probably the same model can have a Trailhawk too.

 

Like Active Drive 1 (I think) is comparable to the AWD systems found in most other automakers, it has an axel disconnect feature tho. And a Jeep Renegade isn't much more off-road capable with that  AWD compared to a Honda HR-V (it might have more ground clearance, but not much esle).

 

Like they could give the JGC a diet, but I think look at what Jaguar did with the F-Pace. They gave certain models All Surface Progess control, a shot across the pond, borrowed from LR. 

 

So I really think a performance oriented Jeep crossover could sell. Arguably, even if not that popular, much more than some Alfa that has no brand presence or any kind of established prestige here in North America.

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    • By William Maley
      Hyundai had set itself a high bar when it launched the sixth-generation Sonata for the 2010 model year. It stood out from a crowded field of midsize sedans with an exterior shape that resembled a Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. The Sonata also boasted a comfortable interior, loads of technology features, a good selection of engines, and a nice balance between comfort and sport. Replacing this model would be a tough task and one Hyundai wasn’t able to meet. When the seventh-generation model rolled out at 2014 New York Auto Show, you could hear the cry of a sad trombone. The new Sonata had gone conservative in its design. Compared to Chevrolet, Honda, and Toyota that rolled out bold styling on their sedans, the Sonata went backwards with a conservative look.
      Hyundai realized they need to make some drastic changes to Sonata to give it a fighting chance not only against other sedans, but from the growing demand for crossovers of all sizes. This brings us to the 2018 Sonata Limited. It was time to find out if Hyundai had found that magic once again.
      This being a refresh, Hyundai couldn’t go completely crazy in terms of the design language, however the updates really help the Sonata have more presence. Up front is bolder with a new hexagonal grille surround, chrome grille slats, new sculpting on the hood, and deep cuts in the bumper for LED fog lights. The side profile retains the chrome trim that runs through the headlights and around the windows. Hyundai made some drastic changes for the rear by smoothing out the trunk lid and moving the placement of the license plate to the bumper. 
      The Sonata’s interior retains the basic shape of the outgoing model, but changes have been made to freshen it up. The center stack boasts a revised control layout and all trims get a three-spoke steering wheel. Previously, only the Sport trim got this wheel design. It would have been nice if Hyundai was a little bit more adventurous with the design, but I’m willing to forgive some of this feeling as the controls fall easily into hand. Interior materials are about average for the class with a mix of hard and soft plastics.
      The front seats were designed with long-distance comfort in mind with a fair amount of seat padding and just the right amount of firmness. Power adjustments for both driver and passenger are standard on the Limited and offer a generous range of adjustments. Space in the back is quite roomy and there are some nice touches such as manual window shades. The Sonata has one of the largest trunks in the class with 16.3 cubic feet of space on offer.
      All Sonata’s come with a 7-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system. Our test Sonata Limited had the optional 8-inch screen with navigation. The current BlueLink system has been with us for a few years and its interface is beginning to look somewhat dated, but the system is still one of the best when it comes to overall usability with large touchscreen buttons, bright screen, and a simple interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all Sonatas except the base SE.
      Sonata offers one of the widest range of powertrains in the segment with three gas engines, a hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. Our Sonata Limited came with the base 2.4L inline-four producing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic routing power to the front wheels. The engine provides adequate power for around town and rural driving. You will need to step on it when making a pass or merging onto a freeway as torque resides higher in the rev band. The six-speed automatic goes about its business smoothly and always knows what gear it needs to be in. Hyundai does offer an eight-speed automatic, but only if you opt for the turbocharged 2.0L.
      EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Sonata Limited are 25 City/35 Highway/28 Combined (SE models see a one mpg increase in highway and combined figures). My average for the week landed around 28.5 mpg.
      Hyundai did make some tweaks to the 2018 Sonata’s suspension including a revised rear suspension setup with thicker trailing arms and revised steering system. The end result is a Sonata that handles much better than the previous car. Body motion has noticeably decreased and the steering provides decent weight when turning. Thankfully, the tweaks made to the suspension haven’t affected the Sonata’s ride quality. Bumps and other road imperfections are soaked up before reaching passengers. Some of the credit has to go to Hyundai not going crazy on offering large wheels - the Limited seen here rides on 17-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels.
      My first impression seeing the 2018 Sonata was that Hyundai had improved it, but was still a bit short when compared to the work done by other automakers. Spending a week with the Sonata caused me to change my train of thought; It surprised me how much work Hyundai put into this mid-cycle refresh and brings the Sonata up to the point where I would say it is fighting for best-in-class honors. 
      While the 2018 Sonata may lack most of the pizzazz found in the sixth-generation model, it does show that Hyundai has learned from its mistake and worked to reclaim some of the magic.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.4L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic. Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/35/28
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $27,400
      As Tested Price: $31,310 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Ultimate Package - $2,900.00
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
    • By William Maley
      FCA US Reports June 2018 Sales
      FCA reports best June retail sales in 14 years Jeep® brand reports its best month of June sales ever, up 19 percent Ram Truck brand posts best June sales ever, up 6 percent Jeep Cherokee reports best month of sales ever, up 89 percent July 3, 2018 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC today reported June 2018 sales of 202,264 vehicles, an 8 percent increase compared with sales in June 2017 of 187,348 vehicles.
       
      Overall sales were bolstered by both the Jeep® and Ram Truck brands, which reported significant increases for the month. FCA retail sales came in at 155,208, marking the best June sales since 2004 when sales reached 155,663 vehicles. Fleet accounted for 23 percent of total sales, a 1 percent decline from the previous year.
       
      Jeep Brand
      Jeep brand notched its best month of June sales ever with 86,989 vehicles sold compared with 73,153 in June 2017. Driving the results were the Cherokee, Compass and Wrangler nameplates. Cherokee and Compass sales nearly doubled, with Cherokee reporting 22,433 vehicle sales compared with 11,895 in June 2017. Compass sales were 15,142 compared with 8,311 in June 2017. Wrangler sales increased to 23,110 vehicles compared with 18,839 in June 2017.
       
      Ram Truck Brand
      Ram Truck brand scored a variety of records as sales increased 6 percent to 51,729 vehicles, making it the best June sales ever. Ram brand retail sales also had their best June ever, rising 4 percent to 36,750. Driving the increase was Light-Duty pickup truck retail sales, which rose 11 percent to 24,036 vehicles. Total sales of the Ram ProMaster van nearly doubled to 6,996 vehicles.  
       
      Chrysler Brand
      Chrysler brand total sales declined 32 percent in June to 13,484 vehicles compared with June of the previous year.
       
      Dodge Brand
      Dodge brand total sales rose 9 percent to 46,387 as Charger sales rose 4 percent to 6,640 vehicles compared with 6,379 vehicles in June 2017.    
       
      FIAT Brand
      Sales of Fiat declined 36 percent to 1,426 vehicles. 
       
      Alfa Romeo Brand
      Alfa Romeo brand sales of 2,249 vehicles were up significantly compared with the same month a year ago. Stelvio led the brand with 1,231 vehicle sales, followed by Giulia at 979 vehicles. 

    • By William Maley
      I found myself in a bit of quandary when it came to writing the review for the 2018 Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. Both of these models have been redesigned recently and despite the different exteriors, under the skin they share a number of key parts such as the engine and suspension. As I was going through my notes, I realized the answer was right in front of me; talk about the differences between the two and see which one does it better. 
      Exterior
      Between the two vehicles, the Rio stands out considerably. Like the previous model, the new Rio has a fair amount of European influence with neatly proportioned body and clean lines. The front end is quite low and features a narrow top grille and deep slits in the bumper for a set of fog lights. 15-inch alloy wheels come standard on EX. Unlike the Accent, the Rio is still available in as a hatchback.
      The Accent goes for the safe approach with a simple three-box sedan design. This isn’t helped by the silver color on my test vehicle which makes it become somewhat anonymous. The only real design traits are in the front with a new grille shape that is appearing on new Hyundai models and cutouts in the bumper for accent trim on our base SE tester or foglights on higher trims. One way the Accent SE stands out from the Rio LX is painted door handles and mirror caps.
      Interior
      There are no frills to be found in the Accent’s interior. Like the outside, Hyundai went for a simple and honest design. Material quality is what you expect in the class - hard plastics on most surfaces. But the plastics have a solid feel. All Accents feature basic front seat adjustments - fore/aft, height (driver only), and recline. I was able to find a position that worked for me quite quickly. One item to be aware of is the SE doesn’t come with a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel; SEL models and above get that feature. Space in the back is average for the class with a decent amount of headroom, but a limited amount of legroom.
      Kia added some style to the Rio’s interior with a sculpted dash featuring two-tone plastics. Hard plastics make up the majority of interior surfaces with a grain texture pattern. Like the Accent, the plastics have a very solid feel. The layout is simple with most controls in easy reach. Finding a comfortable position took no time with a basic set of seat adjustments and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. However, I found the seats in the Rio to not be as supportive on long trips. The back seat mirrors the Accent; ok headroom and a small amount of legroom.
      Infotainment
      The Rio EX comes with a 7-inch infotainment system with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. No navigation system is offered, but you won’t need it as support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard. It will not take long to familiarize yourself with UVO thanks to a well-thought out interface and dedicated buttons for various features. Performance is impressive with the system responding very quickly to inputs.
      Over at the Accent SE, it comes with a 5-inch touchscreen radio. For the most part, the system was simple to use with redundant buttons for various functions, simple interface, and large touchscreen buttons. I only wished that the screen was slightly larger when I was scrolling through my iPod. One surprise was the SE getting Bluetooth as standard. Kia doesn’t offer Bluetooth on the base Rio LX.
      Powertrain
      Both the Accent and Rio use the same 1.6L inline-four engine producing 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque. What differs between the two is the transmission; the Accent SE comes with a six-speed manual while the Rio EX makes do with a six-speed automatic. Between the two, the Accent is noticeably quicker. The manual transmission allows the engine to flex what little muscle it has to get the vehicle up to speed. In the Rio, the automatic’s programming smothers the small amount of power to improve fuel economy. There is a Sport mode that holds onto gears longer, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. Neither of the transmissions can help the 1.6L on the freeway as the engine struggles to get up to speed at a decent rate.
      Fuel Economy
      EPA fuel economy figures are almost identical for the two models. Both return 28 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway. The difference is in the combined figure; the Rio returns 32, while the Accent returns 31. I got an average of 34 in the Rio and 33 in the Accent.
      Ride and Handling
      There are more similarities between the Rio and Accent when it comes to the driving experience. Both still employ struts in the front and a torsion-beam rear axle. But the body has been stiffened which helps with ride quality. Both models exhibited excellent isolation of most road imperfections. Handling is another place where the two surprised me. While not exhibiting the sporty characteristics of a Ford Fiesta, both the Accent and Rio show little body roll and feel quite nimble. The steering is light, but provides a decent amount of feedback when pushed. 
      Pricing
      The 2018 Hyundai Accent begins at $14,995 for the base SE with manual transmission and climbs to $18,895 for the Limited. Our test SE with optional floor mats came to an as-tested price of $16,005. While it does cost $1,095 more than the base Rio LX, the Accent SE comes with more features such as Bluetooth, full power accessories, and a rear USB port.
      The 2018 Kia Rio kicks off at $13,900 for the LX sedan and climbs to $18,700 for the EX hatchback. The EX sedan tester came to an as-tested price of $19,425 with carpeted floor mats and destination. It is a bit hard to stomach the price tag when you can into some decently equipped compact sedans such as the Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze for similar money. Even after you factor in the EX getting forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, it’s still a tough sell.
      Verdict
      Trying to decide which of the two subcompacts was the winner in this piece was very difficult as they share so much. Beginning with the Rio EX, it is a very sharp looking subcompact with a fair amount of European influence and it is available as a hatchback. But the automatic transmission suffocates what little performance is on offer from the 1.6L engine. Plus the price tag of the EX is very difficult to swallow when you can step up into a compact for similar money. If it was the midlevel S, this would have been a closer fight.
      This brings us to the Accent SE. It's styling inside and out is a bit plain when pitted against the Rio. The lack of hatchback also makes the Accent a bit of hard sell to some buyers. But the list of standard features on the base model is very surprising. Plus, the manual transmission allows the engine to have some flexibility in most driving situations. 
      Both models are towards the top in the subcompact class. But in this comparison, the base Accent SE nips the top-line Rio EX by a hair.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai and Kia Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Accent
      Trim: SE
      Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16-valve GDI Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/31
      Curb Weight: 2,502 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Nuevo Leon, Mexico
      Base Price: $14,995
      As Tested Price: $16,005 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats: $125.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Kia
      Model: Rio
      Trim: EX
      Engine: 1.6L 16-valve GDI Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/32
      Curb Weight: 2,714 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico
      Base Price: $18,400
      As Tested Price: $19,425 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $130.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      I found myself in a bit of quandary when it came to writing the review for the 2018 Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. Both of these models have been redesigned recently and despite the different exteriors, under the skin they share a number of key parts such as the engine and suspension. As I was going through my notes, I realized the answer was right in front of me; talk about the differences between the two and see which one does it better. 
      Exterior
      Between the two vehicles, the Rio stands out considerably. Like the previous model, the new Rio has a fair amount of European influence with neatly proportioned body and clean lines. The front end is quite low and features a narrow top grille and deep slits in the bumper for a set of fog lights. 15-inch alloy wheels come standard on EX. Unlike the Accent, the Rio is still available in as a hatchback.
      The Accent goes for the safe approach with a simple three-box sedan design. This isn’t helped by the silver color on my test vehicle which makes it become somewhat anonymous. The only real design traits are in the front with a new grille shape that is appearing on new Hyundai models and cutouts in the bumper for accent trim on our base SE tester or foglights on higher trims. One way the Accent SE stands out from the Rio LX is painted door handles and mirror caps.
      Interior
      There are no frills to be found in the Accent’s interior. Like the outside, Hyundai went for a simple and honest design. Material quality is what you expect in the class - hard plastics on most surfaces. But the plastics have a solid feel. All Accents feature basic front seat adjustments - fore/aft, height (driver only), and recline. I was able to find a position that worked for me quite quickly. One item to be aware of is the SE doesn’t come with a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel; SEL models and above get that feature. Space in the back is average for the class with a decent amount of headroom, but a limited amount of legroom.
      Kia added some style to the Rio’s interior with a sculpted dash featuring two-tone plastics. Hard plastics make up the majority of interior surfaces with a grain texture pattern. Like the Accent, the plastics have a very solid feel. The layout is simple with most controls in easy reach. Finding a comfortable position took no time with a basic set of seat adjustments and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. However, I found the seats in the Rio to not be as supportive on long trips. The back seat mirrors the Accent; ok headroom and a small amount of legroom.
      Infotainment
      The Rio EX comes with a 7-inch infotainment system with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. No navigation system is offered, but you won’t need it as support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard. It will not take long to familiarize yourself with UVO thanks to a well-thought out interface and dedicated buttons for various features. Performance is impressive with the system responding very quickly to inputs.
      Over at the Accent SE, it comes with a 5-inch touchscreen radio. For the most part, the system was simple to use with redundant buttons for various functions, simple interface, and large touchscreen buttons. I only wished that the screen was slightly larger when I was scrolling through my iPod. One surprise was the SE getting Bluetooth as standard. Kia doesn’t offer Bluetooth on the base Rio LX.
      Powertrain
      Both the Accent and Rio use the same 1.6L inline-four engine producing 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque. What differs between the two is the transmission; the Accent SE comes with a six-speed manual while the Rio EX makes do with a six-speed automatic. Between the two, the Accent is noticeably quicker. The manual transmission allows the engine to flex what little muscle it has to get the vehicle up to speed. In the Rio, the automatic’s programming smothers the small amount of power to improve fuel economy. There is a Sport mode that holds onto gears longer, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. Neither of the transmissions can help the 1.6L on the freeway as the engine struggles to get up to speed at a decent rate.
      Fuel Economy
      EPA fuel economy figures are almost identical for the two models. Both return 28 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway. The difference is in the combined figure; the Rio returns 32, while the Accent returns 31. I got an average of 34 in the Rio and 33 in the Accent.
      Ride and Handling
      There are more similarities between the Rio and Accent when it comes to the driving experience. Both still employ struts in the front and a torsion-beam rear axle. But the body has been stiffened which helps with ride quality. Both models exhibited excellent isolation of most road imperfections. Handling is another place where the two surprised me. While not exhibiting the sporty characteristics of a Ford Fiesta, both the Accent and Rio show little body roll and feel quite nimble. The steering is light, but provides a decent amount of feedback when pushed. 
      Pricing
      The 2018 Hyundai Accent begins at $14,995 for the base SE with manual transmission and climbs to $18,895 for the Limited. Our test SE with optional floor mats came to an as-tested price of $16,005. While it does cost $1,095 more than the base Rio LX, the Accent SE comes with more features such as Bluetooth, full power accessories, and a rear USB port.
      The 2018 Kia Rio kicks off at $13,900 for the LX sedan and climbs to $18,700 for the EX hatchback. The EX sedan tester came to an as-tested price of $19,425 with carpeted floor mats and destination. It is a bit hard to stomach the price tag when you can into some decently equipped compact sedans such as the Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze for similar money. Even after you factor in the EX getting forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, it’s still a tough sell.
      Verdict
      Trying to decide which of the two subcompacts was the winner in this piece was very difficult as they share so much. Beginning with the Rio EX, it is a very sharp looking subcompact with a fair amount of European influence and it is available as a hatchback. But the automatic transmission suffocates what little performance is on offer from the 1.6L engine. Plus the price tag of the EX is very difficult to swallow when you can step up into a compact for similar money. If it was the midlevel S, this would have been a closer fight.
      This brings us to the Accent SE. It's styling inside and out is a bit plain when pitted against the Rio. The lack of hatchback also makes the Accent a bit of hard sell to some buyers. But the list of standard features on the base model is very surprising. Plus, the manual transmission allows the engine to have some flexibility in most driving situations. 
      Both models are towards the top in the subcompact class. But in this comparison, the base Accent SE nips the top-line Rio EX by a hair.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai and Kia Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Accent
      Trim: SE
      Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16-valve GDI Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/31
      Curb Weight: 2,502 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Nuevo Leon, Mexico
      Base Price: $14,995
      As Tested Price: $16,005 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats: $125.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Kia
      Model: Rio
      Trim: EX
      Engine: 1.6L 16-valve GDI Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/32
      Curb Weight: 2,714 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico
      Base Price: $18,400
      As Tested Price: $19,425 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $130.00
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