2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV is a sportier electrified SUV

Alfa Romeo promised us something beguiling for its first foray into EVs, and the 2023 Tonale certainly fits the bill. A new compact crossover, it will offer plug-in hybrid drive and all-wheel drive as standard, though the automaker insists that despite the electrification it hasn't lost that driver's focus that Alfa Romeo is known for.

It's been three years since Alfa Romeo first whet our appetites with the Tonale Concept. The shapely red crossover debuted at the Geneva Motor Show 2019, previewing its first flirtations with plug-in hybrid electrification. Details were scant back then, but the eye-catching design alone was enough to get us excited.

Fast-forward to today, and the wait seems like it was worth it. The 2023 Tonale sticks closely to the sleek and handsome aesthetic of the concept car, but promises to arrive at Alfa Romeo dealerships in the US in Q1 2023. It'll be offered both in turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine form, and as a PHEV with 30+ miles of range, the automaker estimates.

The Tonale Q4 AWD plug-in hybrid combines a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine with a 90 kW electric motor, powered by a 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. The gas side is good for 180 hp on its own, driving the front wheels; the e-motor pushes its power to the rear wheels. Altogether there's 272 horsepower on tap, with a six-speed automatic transmission standard: 0-60 mph should come in 6.0 seconds.

Alfa Romeo is predicting more than 30 miles of electric-only driving from a full charge of the battery. With a Level 2, 240V charger, it should be recharged in around 2.5 hours, the automaker says. The DNA drive mode switch adjusts how the power is distributed, depending on the sort of driving in mind, as well as tweaking steering, braking, and suspension settings.

Dual Power mode, for example, focuses on the most eager driving, with high levels of regen; Natural mode leaves the gas engine off more often, unless the situation specifically requires it. Finally, Advanced Efficiency mode prioritizes electric driving when possible. The gas engine will kick in when the battery is depleted, with the e-motor working to recharge the Tonale when that happens so that AWD can be sustained. eSave mode will save the current battery level, with the option to also actively recharge it from the gas engine.

The 2023 Tonale's other drivetrain option is a more familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. It has 256 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, also offers all-wheel drive, and is combined with a nine-speed automatic transmission. While there's no electrification, Alfa Romeo says the gas-only engine still meets the SULEV 30 super-ultra-low-emissions 30 standard.

It's all wrapped up in a decidedly handsome design. Triple "3+3" headlamps at the front and since-curve rear light clusters, plus the phone-dial wheels and a bold "GT Line" running the full length of the side. 17-, 18-, 19-, and 20-inch wheels will be offered.

Inside, there's seating for five. Alfa Romeo has been liberal with the leather, Alcantara, and aluminum, opting for a compact steering wheel with metal paddles. Slimmer air vents, multi-color backlighting, 3D texturing on the dashboard and seats, and non-traditional fabrics like neoprene also feature. There's a 10.25-inch center touchscreen running Uconnect 5, and a 12.3-inch digital driver's cluster, both as standard.

Uconnect 5 is based on Android, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – both wireless – as standard, plus wireless phone charging. There's integrated Amazon Alexa, along with Alfa Connect with OTA update support. Adaptive cruise control, intelligent speed assist, blind spot and rear cross traffic detection, forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention assist, and lane-departure warnings with lane-keeping assistance are also standard.

Traffic Jam Assist – Alfa Romeo's Level 2 system for dealing with congestion – is an available option. Of course, most of the time, drivers will probably want to take the wheel themselves. Fully independent MacPherson suspension with Frequency Electric Damping shocks is standard, along with four-piston Brembo front brakes using brake-by-wire.

The automaker is offering Dual Stage Valve active suspension with electronically controlled damping as an option. That has two settings – Comfort and Sport – with the Tonale switching between them automatically depending on DNA mode, or an override button in the center of the DNA selector.

Pre-orders of the 2023 Tonale will open in Q4 2022, with three trims planned; Sprint, Ti, and Veloce. Pricing is expected to be confirmed closer to that point, with delivery of production cars the following quarter.