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2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione AWD

A year ago I had a chance to spend some time driving a 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale through the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I loved the color but found the overall experience disappointing (read more here). It's not the first time that a fabled brand proved to be a bit disappointing in person. Is that due to all the safety and tech that are now grafted onto every vehicle, or is it simply the difference between seeing one pass you on the road and being in the driver's seat?

Zoom forward a year and I was offered a chance to drive the 2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione AWD. I was quite intrigued: Have they addressed the issues in the newer model design and brought a sleek and sexy Alfa Romeo to the American market or was it going to be a mixed bag? Turns out that - spoiler alert! - it was indeed a mixed experience, with some aspects I loved and others that were inexplicable in a car at any price point.

As always, let's start out with the exterior because, like the Tonale, the Stelvio is gorgeous, this time in Moonlight Grey Matte with a black premium leather interior:

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - exterior front

There are some similarities to the BMW design, though they've replaced the "beaver teeth" with a more pleasant triangle shape and, of course, the cool Alfa Romeo logo. A logo that features a circular badge with a red cross on a white background, encircled by a green serpent that swallows a human figure, according to the company!

I do have to confess that the paint finish is delightful, a soft texture that's quite pleasing to the touch. Multiple people ran their hands along the vehicle in appreciation, something I hadn't experienced before. This was likely the protective clear plastic film (an optional add-on) but it was very nice...

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - exterior finish closeup

But let's start with the interior, which is hugely improved over the Tonale, which had a shockingly poor design. The Stelvio is a thoroughly modern vehicle with all modern controls and features:

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - dashboard

Lots to appreciate, from the mix of round and rectangular climate control vents to the convenient door handle and high-fidelity 14-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system. The Infotainment screen is on the smaller size at 8.8 inches, particularly given that the rear camera only takes up about 50% of the display. It does include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but wired only (and the USB port between the cupholders is not the active port; it's hidden in the armrest storage space.

Note in the above the subtle red stitching of the steering wheel cover. Sure enough, the interior features "leather sport seats with red stitching". Also did you see the tiny green-white-red reminiscent of the Italian national flag? You can see it more easily in this picture:

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - center console

As with the entire Alfa Romeo line, the three drive modes are "d", "n", and "a" to reflect its racing heritage. In practice they're sport, normal, and eco. Switch to one of the modes and the dash shows what's changed, but most people will likely keep it in "n" (not to be confused with neutral!). The other knobs allow easy control of the infotainment system, volume, and other audio settings, etc. Very convenient.

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - drive mode display

The Stelvio Competizione featured an underpowered 2.0L 280hp I4 DI Turbo Engine with an 8-speed automatic and one of the most annoying features of the car: Auto Start/Stop. Once up to speed, the engine offered decent levels of power, and it did well at highway speeds, but even in sport mode, going from zero had a few second delay that seemed to be exactly what you would not expect from the DNA of an Italian sports car.

So what's the deal with Auto Start/Stop? It's unaware of climate controls, and on the days I drove the Stelvio the temps were up in the high 80s and low 90s. The result was that every time I stopped at a red light, the engine would turn off, the climate controls would turn off, it would instantly get hot in the car, and then, after a few seconds, the climate controls would turn on again. Clumsy engineering at best; if the climate controls are engaged, they should take priority over the auto start/stop feature.

The main gauge display was quite interesting and very modern:

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - main gauge

Notice that the speed labels only show up on the speedometer as you need to see them. Top speed of 160mph? I'm a bit skeptical but... maybe. Also notice the average fuel efficiency of 24.7 mpg. That's smack dab in the middle of the EPA estimates of 22/28, which are disappointingly low for a vehicle that's not giving you enormous power to compensate.

Before we step outside, the car has really cool pedals, except with just a few thousand miles, I was surprised that the brake pedal was already showing signs of wear and tear:

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - brake pedal

What's it going to look like in 50,000 miles?

Stepping out of the vehicle, there was not much in the way of rear legroom:

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - rear legroom

Though it's styled as an SUV, I suspect that most owners aren't transporting a group of teens or adults, or if they are, they've moved the front seats up quite a ways to compensate.

With its Sports Ute design, it has a very nice amount of rear storage in the cargo compartment:

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - rear cargo

The Stelvio also includes the tonneau cover without additional charge, something every SUV manufacturer should deliver.

The other feature that drove me bonkers repeated again and again. I set the entertainment system to default to "last source played", but every time I started the car after listening to Bluetooth content, it immediately started playing the radio at high volume. After ten seconds or so it would find and connect back to the Bluetooth device (my phone) but in the interim, I'd panic lowered the audio volume to zero. If this were a test model or a production prototype, that might be acceptable, but for a vehicle with a $60K price tag, it was entirely unacceptable behavior.

2024 alfa romeo stelvio - exterior rear

And so we end up where we started: the 2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione AWD has a lot going for it, from the styling to the nicely updated dashboard design. The drive experience could be better, but if you're a less adventurous driver, it might be fine. But that climate control auto-stop glitch and the even more annoying audio input problem make this a very mixed driving experience. Perhaps the 2025 models will address all of these issues. I hope so, because these Alfa Romeo vehicles are just beautiful curbside.

2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione AWD in Moonlight Grey Matte with black premium leather interior. Powered by a 2.0L 280hp I4 DI Turbo Engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. BASE PRICE: $49,725.00. Options Included: Protective Clear Plastic Film, Custom Preferred Package 22Q, Active Assist Plus Package. AS DRIVEN: $59,870.

Disclosure: Alfa Romeo loaned me the Stelvio for a week of driving in return for this candid writeup and review.