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On the road, the Stelvio is solid and confident, while offering plenty of power and eager handling.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Alfa Romeos have always had a signature shield-shaped grille, and that motif is literally placed front and center with its first SUV, the Stelvio crossover.

Italian automakers take justifiable pride in producing the best-looking vehicles in the world. Maybe I'm biased because I love all things Italian from coffee to cathedrals, but I think they put just the right touch on their designs. That's why I was predisposed to like the 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio midsize SUV, but I think I'd have enjoyed it regardless of its origins.

The Stelvio is the first-ever SUV from Alfa Romeo, and it's a fully modern interpretation of a premium luxury-performance crossover. Starting with the design, the Stelvio suggests speed with its bold lines and large wheels while staying pretty much inside the standard two-box design for SUVs.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The Stelvio includes an 8.8-inch center display plus all safety systems available today.

Alfas have a signature shield-shaped grille, and that motif is literally placed front and center, and all the shaping features of the Stelvio flow out from that grille. This SUV is low, aggressive, and built for speed. Even the name comes from the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps; where you'd really enjoy driving this vehicle. Any road from Portland to the coast will do for a substitute, however.

Under the hood, the Stelvio offers an all-aluminum, 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbocharged engine delivering 280 horsepower and 306 foot pounds of torque, With the Stelvio's standard eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive, the Stelvio will launch from 0 to 60 MPH in 5.4 seconds and achieve a top speed of 144 MPH. If you prefer an all-urban model, you can get the Stelvio with rear-wheel-drive.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Inside, the Stelvio is comfortable, with leather upholstery is standard, inclusing heated seats.

The top Quadrifoglio (Italian for four-leaf clover, a longstanding Alfa racing insignia) model includes a Ferrari-derived twin-turbocharged V6 engine with 505 horsepower, powering the Stelvio to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 176 MPH. Mamma mia!

Alfa Romeo has always been about a great driving experience, and this is where I was skeptical. I've owned several vintage Alfas over the years, so how could this rather large SUV measure up? In truth, it's not like any Alfa coupe or sedan I've ever driven. If you want that vintage car magic, you have to get the old car. What you get with the Stelvio is a rock-solid performance in keeping with any of the premium performance SUV brands of today. You can compare the Stelvio to an Infiniti, BMW, or Porsche SUV and it will keep up.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The back row can easily handle three adults in comfort.

Inside, the Stelvio is comfortable, as you would expect from a premium brand. Leather upholstery is standard, with heated seats. The Stelvio includes an 8.8-inch center display with navigation capability, satellite radio, and excellent connectivity. Safety features are also complete, including blind spot and lane keeping assistance, traffic assistance, and all the collision avoidance technology available today.

On the road, the Stelvio is solid and confident, while offering plenty of power and eager handling. This is an SUV you can take to the grocery store or for an exhilarating drive through the mountains. With 56.5 cubic feet of cargo space, you can also take the Stelvio camping or to the big box store.

PMG PHOTO: JEF ZURSCHMEIDE - As a crossover, the 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio offers a lot cargo space.

The bottom line on the 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is Molto Bene, very good indeed. If you're shopping any premium SUV brand this year, take an hour and visit the Alfa dealer. Have a cappuccino and treat yourself to a test drive in the Stelvio. You might find yourself a whole new way of life.

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Base price: $45,745

Price as tested: $59,540

Type: Midsize SUV

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (280 hp, 306 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 22/28

Overall length: 184.6 inches

Curb weight: 4007 pounds

Final assembly: Cassino, Italy


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