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You’ve likely heard of the Italian automaker Alfa Romeo, even if you’ve never owned or driven one of its models. It’s made a name for itself among the luxury European auto industry. In recent years, it’s been launching some pretty remarkable rides here in the U.S., too. One of Alfa Romeo’s latest vehicle introductions is the Tonale. This plug-in hybrid compact SUV is already getting a lot of attention. 

Before you dive in and pick up your own 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale, it might help to have a little history and context behind the company, the SUV, and the exotic name. Here’s a little segment of fun facts, including what Tonale translates to in English and other meanings. 

An Alfa Romeo Tonale on display at a dealership.
Alfa Romeo Tonale | Nathan Laine/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A brief history of the Alfa Romeo Tonale

Italian designs and spirit are part of every Alfa Romeo vehicle. But when Alfa Romeo announced the all-new 2023 Tonale on the world stage last February, there’s even more to this brand’s character and modern appeal.

As Car and Driver describes, it’s the upscale entry that looks to “infuse some Italian blood” into the segment of subcompact luxury crossovers.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale comes equipped with an all-wheel drive and one powertrain option. The plug-in hybrid comes with a turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. And you’ll also have the electric motor mounted to the rear axle.

Together, expect a combined horsepower of 285. The Tonale has a six-speed automatic along with a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery with an electric driving range of 30 miles.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale first debuted as a concept back in 2019 at the Geneva Auto Show. Now it’s coming to U.S. showrooms with three trims, the Sprint, the Ti, and the Veloce. Pricing ranges from $44,590 to $49,090.

What does ‘Tonale’ mean, anyway?

If you look for the literal translation of Tonale using the Collins Dictionary Italian to English translator, you’ll see it simply means “tonal.”

It’s an adjective used to often describe music or tones of other works of art. And maybe that’s what Alfa Romeo had in mind, drawing the distinction that their latest plug-in hybrid compact SUV is a unique work of art.

According to Alfa Romeo USA though, the Tonale is named after one of Italy’s highest mountain passes. Inspired by all the lines, bends, and “organic curvatures” found in this naturally beautiful setting, the Tonale was born. 

The Tonale Pass is a well-known mountain pass located in northern Italy. It’s a winter magnet for skiing tourists. And at its Mount Tonale peak, guests enjoy hotels and restaurants. The views are almost spiritual, and driving this pass is easy for novice travelers. 

Either way, whether Alfa Romeo intended to draw its new PHEV some attention with the name of a breathtaking mountain or a common adjective referring to works of great art, they’ve chosen well.

What about the origins of ‘Alfa Romeo’ and ‘Quadrifoglio?’

The name Alfa Romeo hails as an acronym for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, a new car company named back in 1910. The founding engineers, Giuseppe Merosi and Ugo Stella, welcomed a Neapolitan businessman by the name of Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920, the car company’s name was officially changed to Alfa Romeo. 

As for “Quadrifoglio,” it’s the Italian term for a four-leaf clover. And it’s a perfect fit attribute, signifying luck and good fortune.

Now that you have some Alfa Romeo history knowledge, you might want to test drive the new 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale. Regardless of what it’s called or the meaning behind its name, it’s a PHEV luxury crossover you need to experience in the driver’s seat.


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