The 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s curvaceous shell and sublime handling help separate it from more familiar nameplates. While Alfa Romeo’s compact luxury crossover isn’t as refined or practical as rivals like the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, its Italian heritage and visual flair give it unique characteristics that stand out on the road. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine isn’t unusual in this class, but its gutsy acceleration and raspy exhaust note appeal to the right side of our brain. The Stelvio shares a platform with the engaging Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan, and we love how nimble and responsive it feels despite having a higher center of gravity and extra weight. The excitement factor only increases on the 505-hp Quadrifoglio model, which we review separately. Apart from some uninspired interior pieces as well as a small back seat and cargo, the 2021 Stelvio is a treat to the senses.
What’s New for 2021?
Alfa Romeo gives the 2021 Stelvio a more streamlined lineup and a series of minor updates. The company also reintroduces the “Sprint” moniker that was last seen on some of its most famous nameplates—the Giuletta Sprint and Giulia Sprint GTA, for example. It now applies to the base Stelvio trim, with the Ti and Ti Sport rounding out the rest of the tiers. Along with a selection of new exterior colors (Ocra GT Junior, Rosso GTA, Rosso Villa d’Este, and Verde Montreal), Alfa now offers optional 21-inch wheels. Built-in navigation and a dual-pane sunroof are newly standard on the Ti and Ti Sport. The latter also adds standard 20-inch wheels with a five-hole design, a dark exhaust, a limited-slip differential, and a rear diffuser. The rest of the changes include new and revised option packages.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Stelvio’s turbocharged four-cylinder sends a hearty 280 horsepower through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the base model, but all-wheel drive is optional and standard on the rest of the lineup. While the engine was effortlessly quick in our testing and sounded great, the Stelvio’s sole setup—aside from the high-performance Quadrifoglio—eliminates choices for the buyer and limits towing to a maximum of 3000 pounds. During daily driving, we were particularly fond of its responsive throttle and smooth power delivery. Its raspy exhaust note sounded enthusiastic and appropriate for this application. In addition to its beautiful design, the Stelvio boasts athletic handling and a compliant ride. Even with its 20-inch wheels, Ti Sport trims we tested provided sufficient isolation from all but the harshest bumps. While its maximum cornering grip was similar to rivals, the Alfa is the alpha dog when it comes to driving engagement. The chassis, which is shared with the Giulia sedan, had damping that was composed and comfortable. Although the Stelvio’s steering isn’t as sharp as the Giulia’s, its light effort and quick reflexes were still exceptional—especially for a crossover.