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Alfa Romeo‘s line of vehicles may not have the best reputation in America, but the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia is one of the finest options on the used car market. The vehicle ranked at No. 4 on U.S. News’ list of “Best Used Luxury Small Cars under $20K for 2023” thanks to its excellent engine, tight handling, and impressive suite of safety features. However, the Giulia is let down by its inability to be consistently reliable for drivers. 

There’s a lot to admire about the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo debuted the Giulia model in 2017, and while the automaker has made several iterations of the vehicle since then, the original version remains impressive. 

The Giulia is equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 280 horsepower. Behind the wheel, the vehicle feels more like a sports car than others in its class due to the level of control provided in its handling. The Giulia’s brakes are also highly-rated, although their power may take some getting used to. Standard features include a proximity key, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 6.5-inch infotainment display, an eight-speaker audio system, HD Radio, Bluetooth, and three USB ports.

Among the Giulia’s best assets are its safety features. It was named the Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the highest accolade offered by the organization, and earned top scores in all conducted crash tests. 

The Giulia comes with a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. Other active features include front parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia has three trim levels – the Base, the Ti, and the Quadrifoglio. The average price of a used model is between $19,903 and $38,536, depending on your choice of trim, the car’s condition, and location. 

The car’s legacy of recalls and owner complaints overshadow its best features

A red 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio executive car model driving under a cloudy red sky
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio | FCA

All of the previous attributes should make the Alfa Romeo Giulia an easy purchase for those looking to buy a used car. However, the vehicle’s history of structural breakdowns makes recommending it a more complicated proposition than it should be. 

The Giulia was involved in three recalls between 2018 and 2019 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for misfiring engine components, brake fluid leakage, and an inability to deactivate active cruise control. It is also the subject of 40 official complaints from owners to the NHTSA. Their concerns are primarily regarding the engine and electrical system, but also tangentially connected systems like the exterior lighting and wipers. 

U.S. News corroborates the Giulia’s lack of reliability in its original car review. The organization found that the estimated five-year cost for gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs would be about $30,400, an above-average price for a luxury compact car.

Alternative luxury cars don’t have the same reliability concerns

The complete top 10 includes several vehicles at a similar price point to the Alfa Romeo Giulia: the 2015 BMW 2 Series (No. 4 TIE), the 2016 Lexus CT Hybrid (No. 7 TIE), and the 2015 BMW 4 Series (No. 7 TIE). 

Additionally, none of these cars have the same concerns over faulty parts. The 2016 Lexus CT Hybrid is particularly secure. This luxury car earned a perfect reliability score from J.D. Power and was the target of exactly one complaint to the NHTSA. The BMW 2 Series also received the Top Safety Pick award from The IIHS, and the 4 Series was involved in two recalls and 13 owner complaints. 

Those working with a smaller budget will be pleased to read that the top three used cars on U.S. News’ list – the 2009 Audi A3, the used 2013 Audi A4, and the 2009 Lexus IS – all have an average price of $10,000 or lower. 

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