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William Maley

Review: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti

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Trying to review an Alfa Romeo vehicle is difficult as I found out with the Giulia Quadrifoglio. There were parts of model that I found to be quite amazing and worthy of putting it on my year-end favorites list. But other traits and details left a very sour taste in my mouth. I ended my review with this line,

“To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.”

Now I find myself in the same difficult position with another Alfa Romeo, the Stelvio. My fingers were crossed that the Stelvio would avoid some of the pitfalls from the Giulia.

If you were to ask me to describe the Stelvio’s design, I would say it is a tall riding Giulia hatchback. The shared DNA is made quite clear in the front as there is a three-leaf design for the grille, narrow headlights set at a slight angle, and there are deep cuts in the hood. More of the Giulia can be seen in the side profile with flowing curves and noticeable fender bulges. One design trait that sets the Stelvio apart from other luxury crossovers is the sharply raked d-pillar that gives it a sporty edge.

The Stelvio’s interior mirrors the Giulia with the same modern design and mixture of high-quality and very cheap materials. I also had an odd build quality issue where the button for the driver’s heated seat would get stuck. I would have to press the button a few times to dislodge it. This is a bit worrying for a brand with a very questionable reliability history.

A set of leather sport seats that are part of an optional sport package came equipped. With increased side bolstering, the seats do an excellent job of holding you in during an enthusiastic drive. It is a shame that the seats aren’t comfortable for long trips. After an hour or so, I found that my thighs were becoming sore. A little bit more seat padding would do some wonders. In the back, there is adequate head and legroom for an average sized adult. Taller passengers will notice headroom is very much at a premium due to the sloping roofline. Cargo space slightly trails competitors with 18.5 cubic feet of space with the seats up and 56.5 when folded.

For infotainment, the base Stelvio comes with a 6.5-inch screen. The Ti makes do with a larger 8.8-inch screen. Both systems use a controller knob on the center console and voice commands to move around the system. If you read our Giulia Quadrifoglio review, then you know I had a number of problems with the infotainment system: Odd design choices, issues with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and a number of crashes to name a few. I was hoping the Stelvio’s system would have ironed some of the issues. But sadly, the Stelvio experienced the same issues as the Giulia.

Alfa Romeo should have just used the UConnect infotainment system like Maserati does. Just put a different coat of paint and call something different.

Under the hood of the Stelvio lies a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. There is also the high-performance Quadrifoglio with a 505 horsepower, twin-turbo V6 engine. 

Some turbo lag makes an appearance when the vehicle begins to accelerate. But once the turbocharger spools up, the Stelvio moves at a surprising rate. This comes down to a broad and flat torque curve. The eight-speed automatic mirrors what I found in the Giulia Quadrifoglio I drove earlier in the year - stumbles with gear changes at lower speeds, but becomes smoother as speed increases.

Handling is where the Stelvio really pulls ahead of the competition. On a winding road, the crossover exhibits excellent control of body motions. Steering provides decent weight and feel needed for an enthusiastic drive. I had to remind myself this isn’t a Giulia sedan, this is a compact crossover. But there is one item that will make you think twice about driving the Stelvio with gusto and that is brakes. The pedal feel was very inconsistent - lightly press on the pedal and the vehicle didn’t feel like it was slowing down, press a little bit further and it felt like the vehicle was going into a panic stop. The issue deals with the brake-by-wire system which uses sensors to measure the amount of force and speed applied to the pedal. This information is then transmitted to a controller which applies the appropriate amount of braking force. This is a problem a few other reviews have noted and one Alfa Romeo needs to address.

The ride is compliant with a fair number of bumps making their way inside. If you’re looking for a somewhat smoother ride, dropping to the smaller 18-inch wheels is recommended. Road and wind noise are kept to average levels for the class. But engine noise is very noticeable inside, sounding like an old diesel truck. Be prepared to keep the volume for the audio system up.

Like the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Stelvio has me torn. The crossover has a lot going for it such as the sharp exterior, a very punchy turbo-four, and impressive handling. But then I look at the list of issues such as the problematic infotainment system, confused transmission, and a braking system that is very inconsistent. This isn’t including the dark cloud of Alfa Romeo’s reliability. During my week, I had a ‘Service Alarm’ light that would pop up when I started the vehicle. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I accidentally pressed the panic button and the alarm went off for five minutes. I was about ready to break out the wrenches and remove the battery to shut up the alarm, but then it stopped. It needs to be noted that FCA has issued four recalls on the Stelvio at the time of this writing.

If you really have your heart set on a Stelvio, be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. There are moments of brilliance mixed in with the perils. Everyone else should look at the competition.

Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Stelvio, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2018
Make: Alfa Romeo
Model: Stelvio
Trim: Ti
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L MultiAir2 SOHC Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 5,200
Torque @ RPM: 306 @ 2,000 - 4,800
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/28/24
Curb Weight: 4,044 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy
Base Price: $43,995
As Tested Price: $54,090 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

Options:
Ti Sport Package 22S - $2,500
Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500
Dual-Pane Sunroof - $1,350
8.8-inch AM/FM Bluetooth Radio with 3D Navigation - $950.00
Harman Kardon Premium Audio - $900.00
Driver Assistance Static Package - $650.00
Vesuvio Grey Metallic - $600.00
Compact Spare Tire - $450.00
Convenience Package - $200.00


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(Slightly) Better looking than a Jaguar, but not as good reliability.   I really want to be impressed with these new Alfas... I was in love with the 159s.... but these just fail to impress me.

 

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I like the styling, but seems like the old Italian shortcomings of poor build quality and poor reliability remain...

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What an ugly auto with a terrible dash. It is like they decided to pick pieces from everyone and throw it into the dash and call it good. You have the circle vents on the outside of the dash by the windows which remind me of Mercedes-benz, cheap rectangle vents in the center stack, the heat control section under the center vents says Ford to me but I cannot seem to remember which specific model I seen that control panel on.

Weird, but it really is just a mess or design types with no flow and terrible quality.

Bill is right on in that the Alfa line is a PASS for everyone as there are far superior products out there.

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For once I have to agree with @dfelt, I am not a fan of the new Alfa's exterior design.  Interior looks ok to me.  Also, way too many stories about really questionable build quality puts me off them also.

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On 6/15/2018 at 9:18 AM, Drew Dowdell said:

(Slightly) Better looking than a Jaguar, but not as good reliability.   I really want to be impressed with these new Alfas... I was in love with the 159s.... but these just fail to impress me.

 

I second that,

 

if I wanted an exotic design in this class it’s the Jaguar F-Pace every time, and that’s also because they have the mid level R-Dynamic with the supercharged V6.

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      That’s the thing about the full-size truck market, you need to show up with the best. Anything less and you’re in danger of losing. 
      How I would configure a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500.
      There are two options I would consider with the Silverado. First is the RST. I would order a 4WD crew cab with a short and opt for the 5.3L V8. From there, I would add the Convenience Package with Bucket Seats, Convenience Package II, Safety Package, and Trailering Package. That brings the final price to $52,745 excluding any discounts I could get. Second is the Trail Boss which gets the 5.3L V8 as standard. Options would mirror the RST and bring the final price to $54,285.
      If I was to order a Sierra 1500, then I would start with the SLT Crew Cab 4WD with a short bed. This comes with the 5.3L V8 as standard and I would only add two options; Dark Sky Metallic for $495 and the SLT Premium Plus Package for $6,875. This package combines a number of option packages such as the SLT Preferred Package and the two Driver Alert Packages. The final price comes to $60,460 with a $1,000 discount for ordering Premium Plus Package.
      Alternatives to the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500.
      2019 Ram 1500: Ram's redesign on the 1500 has helped make it a real challenger to both Ford and GM. The interior raises the bar of what a truck can be with an impressive design and high-quality material choices. It also boasts an impressive list of safety features such as adaptive cruise control. Ride quality is still class leading. What may put some people off is the styling as it looks a bit plain. 2019 Ford F-150: Bestselling for reason, Ford has constantly improved the F-150 to keep it one step ahead of the competition. It features one of the largest selection of powertrains that help give it some impressive towing numbers. A number of trims also gives buyers different options to build their F-150 the way they want. But Ford trails Ram and GM when it comes ride quality. Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the trucks, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (*Author's Note: Unfortunately, I lost the window sticker to the GMC Sierra 1500 I drove. I have built the truck as close as possible to my memory to get an approximation on price. -WM)
      Year: 2019
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Silverado 1500
      Trim: LT Trail Boss
      Engine: 5.3L VVT DI V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 355 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 4,100
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/20/17
      Curb Weight: 5,008 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Roanoke, Indiana
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $55,955 (Includes $1,495 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Convenience Package with Bucket Seats - $1,805.00
      Convenience Package II - $1,420.00
      Off-Road Assist Steps - $895.00
      Safety Package I - $890.00
      Bed Protection Package - $635.00
      Trailer Brake Controller - $275.00
      Advanced Trailering Package - $240.00
      Year: 2019
      Make: GMC
      Model: Sierra 1500
      Trim: AT4
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start
      Driveline: Ten-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5,600 
      Torque @ RPM: 460 @ 4,100
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/19/17
      Curb Weight: 5,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Roanoke, Indiana
      Base Price: $53,200
      As Tested Price: $64,955 (Includes $1,595 Destination Charge and $500 discount for the AT4 Premium Package)*
      Options:
      Off-Road Performance Package - $4,940
      AT4 Premium Package - $3,100 with a $500 discount
      Technology Package - $1,875
      Driver Alert Package II - $745
    • By Drew Dowdell
      At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform.  Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level.  The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package.  Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment.  Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.
      On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands.  Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is.  It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.  
      Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors.  The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree.  While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors.  Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.
      My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles.  Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.
      The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6.  Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment.  Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system.  The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading).  If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined.  The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.
      Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds.  Engine noise is hushed and refined.
      One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable.  The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs.  That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well.  The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.
      Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one.  That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard.  If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.
      Year: 2020
      Make: Kia 
      Model: Telluride
      Trim: SX
      Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
      Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
      Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
      Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
      Base Price: $31,690
      As Tested Price: $45,815
      Destination Charge: $1,045
      Options:
      SX Prestige Package - $2,000
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
      Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115

      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform.  Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level.  The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package.  Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment.  Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.
      On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands.  Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is.  It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.  
      Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors.  The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree.  While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors.  Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.
      My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles.  Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.
      The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6.  Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment.  Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system.  The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading).  If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined.  The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.
      Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds.  Engine noise is hushed and refined.
      One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable.  The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs.  That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well.  The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.
      Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one.  That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard.  If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.
      Year: 2020
      Make: Kia 
      Model: Telluride
      Trim: SX
      Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
      Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
      Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
      Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
      Base Price: $31,690
      As Tested Price: $45,815
      Destination Charge: $1,045
      Options:
      SX Prestige Package - $2,000
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
      Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115
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