Although Alfa Romeo offers some desirable high-performance vehicles, the brand is almost equally known for its questionable reliability. As a result, even the Alfa Romeo Stelvio—a luxury crossover, one of the hottest segments today—isn’t selling particularly well, nor enjoying a strong resale value. However, after looking through reports, it’s possible that at least some of that reputation is undeserved.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio problems are also Giulia problems
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio shares a platform with the Giulia sedan. And although the Giulia, especially the Quadrifoglio version, is an excellent sports sedan, it’s not particularly reliable.
Car and Driver summed up its 14-month, 40,000-mile review of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio thusly: “Rarely have we hoped for a car in our possession to succeed more than we did for this Alfa. And rarely have we been more consistently disappointed.” Even before the car’s break-in period ended, it had developed various electrical issues.
By the end of Car and Driver’s test, the Giulia had visited the repair shop multiple times. It had its rear differential and fuel pump replaced, and its oil-level sensor re-flashed twice and replaced once The driving mode selector glitched, then un-glitched. Going through a car wash caused the Giulia’s sensors to briefly go hay-wire. Top Gear reported similar electrical gremlins in its long-term Giulia.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is similarly available in a sporty 505-hp Quadrifoglio trim, which beat out the Mercedes-AMG GLC and Porsche Macan in a Car and Driver comparison. However, it also shares the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s penchant for electrical problems. Ars Technica’s tester’s adaptive cruise control was nonfunctional. And The Drive reports the Stelvio Quadrifoglio had to be recalled 4 times in its first few months on sale due to water leaking into sensitive electrics.
However, it appears that the vast majority of these issues have only been reported on the Quadrifoglio trim of the Stelvio.
Not all Alfa Romeo Stelvio trims are equally unreliable
Aside from the Quadrifoglio, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is also available in base, Sport, Ti, Ti Lusso, Ti Sport, and Ti Sport Carbon trims. And alongside the equivalent Giulia trims, these less-sporty variants haven’t been quite as problematic. Motor Trend’s long-term Giulia Ti’s sole problem was a small turbocharger coolant leak, for example. The Drive’s Giulia Ti had no electrical issues at all.
The UK’s Car Magazine’s long-term Alfa Romeo Stelvio had no issues. Edmunds forum users report their non-Quadrifoglio Stelvios haven’t been any more problematic than expected. And although What Car had some electrical issues in its long-term Stelvio, that was with a diesel model that US customers can’t get anyway. In addition, CarComplaints has no reports of significant Stelvio issues.
To be sure, the non-Quadrifoglio Stelvios aren’t completely trouble-free. However, most of the reported problems seem to be with early-model-year crossovers, which isn’t unheard-of. One Stelvio owner forum user reported a stop-start issue, as did Car and Driver, although which that seems to be fairly unusual. It’s worth pointing out that the Toyota Highlander has also had similar stop-start problems, which, like the Stelvio, are fixed with a software update. And CarBuzz reports there was one fuel-level-related recall that affected 2018 and 2019 non-Quadrifoglio Stelvios.
But, in short, most of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s reliability problems can be avoided by simply not buying a Quadrifoglio model.
Stelvio specs and features
The base Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Stelvio Sport come standard with rear-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive optional. The Ti models are AWD only. The base crossover starts at $31,545; the Ti Sport Carbon stickers at $52,245. All non-Quadrifoglio models come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 280 hp and 306 lb-ft, with an 8-speed automatic.
Even the base Stelvio, Car and Driver reports, comes with leather seats, automatic emergency braking, remote start, power liftgate, and adaptive headlights. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while a wireless charging pad is optional.
Car and Driver recommends the $47,545 Ti model with the optional Performance Package. The Ti trim adds additional parking sensors, as well as heated front seats and steering wheel. The Performance Package adds a limited-slip differential and adaptive suspension. In addition, the Ti model offers the optional Driver Assistance Package, which adds features like lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, Kelley Blue Book reports.
Is the Stelvio a good crossover?
Car and Driver reports the BMW X3 has more passenger room, though the Stelvio’s cargo area does slightly eclipse the Porsche Macan’s. However, What Car reports the crossover can be used as a family-friendly commuter. In addition, there’s a pass-through in the rear seats for carrying long objects.
Early Stelvios’ had some interior material issues, mainly with some cheap-feeling plastics. However, Alfa Romeo improved the Stelvio’s interior quality for the 2020 model year, Car and Driver reports, and added more sound insulation and acoustic window glass.
But the Stelvio’s excellent handling, compliant ride, and strong brakes remain untouched. And that’s why most people buy this crossover. Crossovers like the Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Rogue may be more practical. But the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is definitely more exciting.
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