Alfa Romeo might not be the first automaker you associate with an SUV, but even the Italians must go where the sales are eventually. The 2018 Stelvio takes the platform of the well-received Guilia sedan and elevates it by 2.5-inches, fitting all-wheel drive as standard and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the seductive hood. That’s good for 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft. of torque, which will have to satisfy you until the 505 HP Stelvio Quadriofoglio version arrives in early 2018.
For now, you get a thoroughly road-focused SUV. Understeer is practically nonexistent, and the engine is eager; the 8-speed automatic gearbox may not be the manual a purist might hope for, but paired with the vast aluminum shifters it’s fast and slick. The same can’t quite be said for the infotainment system, which although an improvement on earlier cars, still lacks a little finesse.
Nonetheless it’s altogether an interesting alternative to what’s become one of the most competition segments. Traditionalists might want the Porsche Macan, while offbeat luxe-chasers could be swayed by Jaguar’s F-PACE. Alfa says it’s not expecting huge volume sales, but if any car was going to do it, the 2018 Stelvio would be it.