The 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a compact luxury SUV. The Stelvio manages to stand out in a segment that’s crowded with competitors from nearly every luxury brand. Not only does it have unique, distinctly Italian styling, but it has the exciting performance to back it up — even in the base model.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio fills a middle ground between the more affordable offerings in this segment like the Lexus NX and Lincoln Corsair and its pricier European rivals like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Meanwhile, it outperforms most of its competitors with its stellar turbocharged base engine.
Let’s take a closer look at the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and see if it’s the right compact luxury SUV for you.
What’s new for 2021?
There’s been some trim-reshuffling for 2021. The Stelvio lineup now consists of the Sprint, Ti, Ti Sport, and Quadrifoglio trims with several option packages available. Advanced driver assistance systems have been repackaged with two different systems available, which we’ll dive into in the Safety category of this review.
What we like
- Excellent performance
- Exotic styling
- Something different in a crowded segment
- Nice list of standard features
- 2021 update makes options more affordable
What we don’t
- So-so interior quality for the price
- Tight cargo area
$41,450 to $80,750
You have a choice of two outstanding engine options in the 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Most models are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine which produces 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are toward the top of this class for a base engine. Fuel economy is about average at 22 city/29 highway/25 combined mpg for rear-wheel-drive models. If you upgrade to all-wheel drive with the base engine, you take a slight fuel economy penalty with 22 city/28 highway/24 combined mpg.
If you opt for the high-performance Stelvio Quadrifoglio, you’ll be treated to a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that makes 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard on the Quadrifoglio and it returns more reasonable fuel economy than you might expect at 17 city/23 highway/19 combined mpg.
Standard features and options
The 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is available in four distinct trims; Sprint, Ti, Ti Sport, and Quadrifoglio. All-wheel drive is standard on every trim except the base Sprint model. On the Stelvio Sprint, RWD is standard and AWD is a $2,000 upgrade.
The base Stelvio Sprint ($41,450) is new for 2021. Its standard features include a 280-hp turbocharged engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission, bi-xenon headlights, Brembo brakes, leather seats, remote start, an 8.8-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple
CarPlay, and automatic emergency braking.
The Stelvio Ti ($47,100) adds standard AWD, a dual-pane sunroof, HD radio, and navigation while opening the door to more available option packages. The similar Stelvio Ti Sport ($50,300) is similarly equipped but adds a limited-slip differential, dark exhaust, a sport rear diffuser, and special 20-inch 5-hole aluminum wheels.
Finally, at the top of the food chain, there’s the Stelvio Quadrifoglio ($80,750). It turns up the performance with a 505-hp twin-turbo V6 engine, dynamic dual-mode quad-tip exhaust, bigger Brembo
brakes, a torque-vectoring rear differential, independent adaptive damping suspension, leather/Alcantara sport seats, carbon-fiber interior trim, and Race Mode.
For every Stelvio, there’s an available Nero Edizione (Black Edition) Sport Package ($1,500 for Sprint and Ti Sport, $1,700 for Ti, $1,000 for Quadrifoglio) which adds various black exterior trim pieces.
A few available option packages for the Sprint model include the Active Assistance 1 Package ($595) adds active blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beams, front and rear parking sensors, and an infrared windshield. The self-explanatory Sun and Sound Package ($1,595) adds a dual-pane sunroof and an upgraded 10-speaker premium audio system. The Cold Weather Package ($800) adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated washer nozzles.
Moving on to the Ti model, you can add the Lusso (Luxury) Package ($2,200) which gives you 19-inch wheels, a beige headliner, aluminum pedals, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, a leather dashboard, and a Technoleather steering wheel. The Premium Package ($2,300) adds a 115-volt power outlet, a cargo compartment adjustable rail system, a cargo net, Harman/Kardon premium audio, headlamp washers, heated back seats, Thatcham security equipment, and wireless charging. The Performance Package ($995) adds paddle shifters and a limited-slip differential. Finally, the Active Assist 2 Package ($1,695) adds driver attention alert, a highway assist system, lane-keep assist, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, and intelligent speed assist to the Active Assist 1 Package.
The Ti Sport model has the same Premium Package and Active Assist 2 Package as the Ti trim at the same prices. It adds an available Carbon Package ($2,500) which is an appearance package that adds carbon-fiber interior and exterior trim plus sport leather seats.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio has an available Premium Package ($995) with the same upgrades as the premium package of the Ti, but the premium audio and headlamp washers are already standard on the Quadrifoglio. There’s also the Active Assistance 2 Package ($2,200) and a Carbon Package ($1,500).
As of this writing, the 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio has not been crash-tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS.
There are now two distinct safety tech packages for the Stelvio; Active Assist 1 and Active Assist 2. The base Sprint trim is available with Active Assist 1 which gives you active blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beams, front and rear parking sensors, and an infrared windshield.
Every other trim is available with Active Assist 2 which adds driver attention alert, a highway assist system, lane-keep assist, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, and intelligent speed assist.
Behind the wheel
As its Alfa Romeo heritage suggests, the Stelvio is one of the more fun-to-drive performers in the compact luxury SUV segment. That’s saying a lot considering its engaging competitors like the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3
The base engine provides more than ample power and torque for everyday driving. As for handling, this SUV drives like a sport sedan with sharp handling, accurate steering, and responsive brakes.
Sometimes the addition of extra drive modes is mostly just for show, but in the case of the Stelvio, they do make a difference in how it drives. Turn the DNA mode selector into Dynamic mode and attacking curvy roads gets a lot more fun. Meanwhile, Advanced Efficiency mode is good for highway cruising since it can deactivate cylinders and Natural mode is good for everyday driving around town.
Upgrading to the Stelvio Quadrifoglio turns this SUV into a beast. The twin-turbo V6 provides an intoxicating exhaust note while giving your practical SUV astounding performance. You also get the Race mode in this trim making it even more raucous.
Don’t expect to do a lot of off-road exploring in the Stelvio. Its available all-wheel-drive system is great for slippery road conditions, but not so much for mountain climbing. It’s nice to see an SUV that’s unabashedly tuned for street use in a world where it seems like every SUV is trying to be an off-roader.
Other cars to consider
2021 Audi Q5: It’s not cheap, but few compact luxury SUVs can match the impressive blend of performance, luxury, and style that the Audi Q5 possesses. This is one of the nicest interiors in its competitive class and we love the standard Quattro AWD on every trim.
2021 BMW X3: The BMW X3 has long been a class leader in this segment. Like the Stelvio, it’s a bit more performance-oriented than most rivals. The base engine is good and the rip-roaring twin-turbo inline-six in the X3 M is almost as powerful as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio while being a little more affordable.
2021 Jaguar F-Pace: The stylish Jaguar F-Pace is another aesthetic standout in this segment with an impressive roster of engines. This one is a bit more practical than the Stelvio with a roomier interior, but it’s also a bit more expensive.
2021 Acura RDX: The more budget-friendly Acura RDX is better than ever. It’s a serious competitor to more prestigious European marques and has an impressive standard features list. It only has one engine option, but it’s almost as powerful as the base engine in the Stelvio.
Used Porsche Macan: Porsche models are historically priced a bit higher than most of their competitors. That means you can find a used Porsche Macan for about the price of a new Stelvio while offering similar levels of performance with a nicer interior.
Used Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG: The high-performance version of the compact Mercedes-Benz crossover has been out for a few years now and can be found around the $40k mark on the used market. It provides the performance you crave without skimping on luxury.
The 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a great compact luxury SUV for drivers looking for sport sedan-like performance in the form of a practical crossover. We like the standout styling and the fantastic engine options. It also has a better list of standard features than more expensive European rivals. That said, its interior quality isn’t quite up to par with its price point.
Check out: Cars that cost more than $200,000
We love the high-performance Quadrifoglio model, but it’s hard to make a case for it with a price tag over $80k. The Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan is a slightly better value if you want that kind of performance. Most drivers will be content with the well-appointed base Sprint model or one of the more luxe Ti models if you have some extra room in your budget.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.