2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV: Late to the Party and Still a Terrible Plug-in Hybrid

The new Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV is the first in the automaker’s lineup to provide a plug-in hybrid option. This will mark Alfa Romeo’s first step into electrification as it tries to compete with rivals. Though the gas-powered version is relatively affordable for an Alfa Romeo car, the PHEV version’s value is questionable.

The Tonale looks exciting based on design alone. However, a closer glance at its specs reveals it’s not really that impressive by PHEV standards. The Alfa Romeo Tonale is already late to the luxury PHEV party, so does it even have a chance to stand out?

What makes a good hybrid vehicle?

While regular hybrids and plug-in hybrids are similar, they’re not the same. Hybrid cars have only tiny electric motors and batteries, so they can’t provide sufficient electric range. However, the stop-start engine technology in these vehicles allows them to save more gas while idling.

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) have larger electric components that can provide healthier ranges. That’s typically around 20 to 50 miles on a full charge. 

Luxury PHEVs are usually on the lower end of the spectrum. Once you’ve used up the range, power will automatically default to the gas engine.

How the Alfa Romeo Tonale compares to the competition

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce (European spec)
2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce (European spec) | Stellantis

According to Stellantis, the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV will pack a 1.3-liter turbo-four engine. It pairs with a 90-kWh electric motor with a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It should produce 272 hp and have a 0-to-60-mph time of six seconds.

We still don’t know its range, but Alfa Romeo claims it will be over 30 miles. If true, that would set it up to outpace many rivals.

Sizewise under the Stellantis umbrella, the closest thing to the Tonale is the Jeep Compass. You’ll notice the Tonale’s interior is much fancier than most entries in the Jeep lineup (except for the Gladiator). The Tonale also has a larger infotainment screen than its Stelvio sibling, with wireless smartphone integration.

According to Ward’s Auto, a completely electric Tonale probably won’t be available until the next generation’s release. Alfa Romeo says its entire lineup will be electrified by 2027, with its first fully electric vehicle coming in 2025.

As Car and Driver notes, most of the Tonale’s rivals have been out for at least a year or two. Many are also significantly more powerful than the Tonale. 

For example, the Audi Q5 PHEV makes 362 hp, while its A8 sedan sibling makes 443 hp. It should be noted that both of these have electric ranges below 30 miles.

The Tonale PHEV’s closest rival in terms of range is probably the BMW X5 xDrive45e. It gets exactly 30 miles on a full charge while still producing 389 hp. It’s also relatively cheap for a luxury PHEV at $66,395.

Is there any hype for the Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV?

Despite its underwhelming power, the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV still has its good points. Most rivals are larger, but the Tonale offers plenty of power for its compact size. We also like that it clearly prioritizes driver comfort and style, which will probably make for a better driving experience.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV should be available for pre-order by December 2022. As of this writing, Stellantis hasn’t revealed pricing for the PHEV yet, but it will likely cost more than the standard Tonale.

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