3 Reasons the Alfa Romeo is a Smart Small SUV Choice

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

Alfa's baby SUV brings something unique to the segment.

It's hard to stand out in the SUV world. Now that high-riders make up the majority of new-vehicle sales, showrooms and highways are full of the things. Everyone makes at least one now—except McLaren—and Alfa Romeo recently launched its second, the pint-sized Tonale.

We spent a week with the Tonale and came away (mostly) impressed. It's not perfect, mind you: it's very pricey, and the second row isn't as spacious as that of some rivals. But if you want to make a statment in your small luxury crossover, here are three ways the Tonale can accomplish just that.

It looks fantastic

Alfa Romeo might have the best batting average in the business when it comes to style, at least this century anyway. How else can you explain the Italians taking a the Jeep Compass platform and getting this as the end result? Sure, there's clear Dodge Hornet connections in the general shape and taillights, but the traditional Alfa nose ensures this fits in with the family.

The details are what set the Tonale apart, too. Excellent telephone-dial alloy wheels? Check. Stunning—if expensive—Verde Fangio paint? Check. Tucked away in the quarter window, a little riff on the Alfa logo replacing the snake's head with a plug? Fun! Which reminds us...

Plug-in power

The Tonale is the first Alfa Romeo to feature a plug-in powertrain. There aren't many others to choose from at this size: only the Lexus NX 450h+ does the same sort of thing.

The Lexus doesn't have such a sporting bent, though. Where the Lexus has a grumbly 2.5-liter four-cylinder underhood, the Tonale has a tiny 1.3-liter turbocharged motor. Horsepower is an ample 285, which is available early and often. Need a lower gear? Pull the pretty left-side aluminum shift paddle and enjoy a thick wave of torque and a bassy exhaust note. On the right road, the Alfa can be genuine fun.

And when you're not caning it, the Alfa can take care of the daily grind on nothing but electrons. The all-electric range is 33 miles (53 kilometers), and we saw it nearly match that figure even in the middle of winter.

Supportive tech suite

It'd all be wasted if the Tonale was frustrating to operate. Thankfully, it employs an Alfacized version of the great Uconnect 5 infotainment system. The menus are easy to operate, the screen is sharp and responsive, and pairing up a phone—wirelessly—is a breeze. Not to be overlooked, there are still physical buttons for the climate controls, too.

While the Tonale's digital instrument cluster doesn't offer as much customization as some others out there, it's nonetheless a sweet setup, with easy-to-read dials featuring a pleasantly retro design. The central information panel gives the driver a good idea of how the adaptive cruise control is functioning as well.

Time will tell if the Tonale has a more successful time cracking the market than the Stelvio and Giulia before it. What we do know is that Alfa has given its baby a lineup of standout features to better its odds.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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