For the 2017 model year, Alfa Romeo introduced its first production SUV, called the Stelvio after a pass in the Italian Alps traversed by a well-loved driver’s road.
The Stelvio won all kinds of accolades in the press as a true crossover — it shares its chassis platform with the Giulia sedan. Now after six years of production, we’ve spent a week with the top Quadrifoglio AWD version, priced at an eye-popping $94,460. Even for a European luxury SUV, that’s a pretty hefty bag of coin.
The Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) name goes way back with Alfa Romeo. The brand loves to revisit its high notes from 113 continuous years of racing and sports cars. The Q or Quad, as aficionados like to call them, generally represents the high-performance version of any Alfa, though some like the Spider Quadrifoglios of the 1990s, which were just a luxury package.
Not so with the Stelvio! When you buy the Quadrifoglio, you’re getting all the juice and a sport package that can compete.
The one thing that pretty much everyone says about the Alfa Stelvio is that it’s the best-looking SUV on the market today. In proportion, lines, stance and the traditional Alfa V-shaped grille, the Stelvio looks fast, sexy, and unmistakably Italian.
That’s true whether you buy the base trim starting at $46,200, or you plus it up to more than twice that amount like our test car. Speaking of which, our test Stelvio came painted in Verde Montreal tri-coat, a $2,200 option. If you love real colors, instead of the monochrome malaise of most SUVs, Alfa has you covered. Che bello!
The interior of the Stelvio Quad is all about sport driving. From the wheel-mounted start button to the carbon fiber trim, this ride delivers the feeling that you could be taking the green flag in a European touring car race on your way home from work.
My one complaint is that the Sparco seats in the Quadrifoglio are a bit hard, thus I wouldn’t want to take this SUV on a long trip. They’re well-bolstered and perfect for a track day, but for men with larger frames those bolsters (which are adjustable) can give you pain in your ribs. Honestly, for everyday use I’d like something a little more cushy. Do be sure to take a long test drive to make sure the seats in the Quad will work for you.
Almost all Stelvio trims come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine making a respectable 280 horsepower, but the Stelvio Quadrifoglio comes with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 rated at 505 hp and 443 pound-feet of torque. That engine is paired with a special 8-speed automatic transmission and a torque-vectoring rear differential, plus all-wheel drive. If you care, fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
Honestly, I think I might like the Stelvio more as a daily driver with the base engine. The power is great when you’re driving a windy mountain road, but can feel a little jumpy in around-town driving. The drivetrain is most of what you’re buying with the Quadrifoglio trim level, so be sure to drive several trim levels before making your decision. All Stelvio models can tow at least 3,000 pounds. E molto gentile!
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have not rated the Stelvio, but it comes with a long list of safety and driver assistance features, as you would expect from a luxury SUV. Along with the usual safety features, you’ll find blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise, parking assist and active suspension, at least on the Quadrifoglio trim.
In the dash, you’ll find an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, and a 7-inch driver information display, that will be replaced with a 12.3-inch display in next year’s model. The 8.8-inch screen for your tunes and nav is nothing to write home about in 2023, but the Stelvio is what it is, and you’re not buying this crossover for the infotainment system. Turn it off and listen to the engine, which has a glorious exhaust note. The system does support both Android and Apple phone integration, and the Stelvio Quad has a wireless charging pad.
In addition to the engine and transmission, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio comes with huge Brembo brakes, an active suspension, dual-mode exhaust, and even a nifty carbon fiber driveshaft. You’ll need to crawl under the Stelvio to appreciate that, but knowing it’s there makes all the difference, right?
On the open road, the Stelvio Quad leaps ahead and can’t wait to carve a corner. The steering is precise on the fat summer compound tires that Alfa puts on it. I never found the limit of the brakes in normal, yet spirited, driving. The suspension is firm, perhaps firmer than some would like, but that’s what you’re buying. The Stelvio was absolutely positively tuned for Italian driving styles — it loves throttle and cornering with gusto, not creeping along in traffic.
All that adds up to a crossover better suited for track-day driving and time attack than for grocery-getting, but if that’s what you need to do, you won’t hate the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, and you might love a different trim level.
2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD Specifications
|L: 185.1 inches/W: 77 inches/H: 66.3 inches/Wheelbase: 111 inches
|2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-6; 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive
|17 mpg city/23 mpg highway/19 mpg combined
|505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $46,575; As tested: $94,460 including $1,595 destination charge
I’ve driven less expensive Stelvio trims in the past and found this SUV to be very pleasant, so here’s the bottom line: If you want the performance stuff, including the racing seat, get the Quadrifoglio. If you don’t, the five other trims are all great and will save you a lot of money over the top dog.
Note that the time to get a new Stelvio is getting shorter — Alfa has hinted they’ll discontinue the model after 2026 to focus on electric vehicles. So whichever Stelvio you choose, you get still get the fantastic Alfa DNA and an SUV that drives and handles far better than the run of European family wagons. Molto bene!
2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio — Frequently Asked Questions
Is Alfa Romeo discontinuing the Stelvio?
Yes, after 2026 as the brand goes electric.
Is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio reliable?
Consumer Reports expects “the 2023 Stelvio to be less reliable than other new cars. This prediction is based on Alfa Romeo’s brand history and data from the previous model years of the Stelvio.”
Is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio expensive to maintain?
You can expect to spend somewhere between $818 and $995 per year on maintenance.