2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
While the Giulia did a lot to cement Alfa Romeo’s place in the euro luxury-sport market here, these days no brand can really compete stateside without an SUV. And indeed, the Stelvio was always a part of Alfa’s return strategy to America. So, let’s take a look at this upstart utility and find out why more familiar European brands should be getting a little nervous.
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is indeed the right vehicle at the right time, as even with luxury-sport brands, utility vehicles continue to take sales away from sedans. So it’s not just a good idea for this re-emerging Italian brand, it’s really a necessity.
And while no one may have seen that coming 20-years ago, it almost makes sense at this point; as car makers have been able to infuse utilities with the same amount of performance, comfort, style, and even efficiency as their 4-door siblings, while giving buyers more flexibility for carrying cargo.
Behind the wheel of this Italian two-row ute, things are very quiet and luxurious. It’s very stable; and like most of its competitors, drives more like a tall hatchback than a crossover-style utility.
Seats are more than comfortable, but if you don’t mind a sportier ride, upgrading to the Ti Sport will get you some phenomenal sport seats.
For now, all Stelvio’s come with a smooth-running 2.0-liter turbo I4 engine. It offers best in class standard horsepower at 280, accompanied by 306 lb-ft. of torque. At full song, it sounds more like an exotic 6 or even 8. In opposite fashion from the Giulia sedan that the Stelvio is based on, we’ll have to wait a little while longer for the high-performance Quadrifoglio version to arrive.
Huge column-mounted paddle shifters are available to control the 8-speed automatic transmission with great precision; and if you ask for manual control, that’s what you get. All Stelvios are all-wheel-drive.
It doesn’t feel leaps and bounds more spirited than the competition, at least without having the opportunity to drive them back to back; but it sure does feel hellaciously fast and super capable. 0-60 is 5.4-seconds, and only a few ticks behind the Giulia 2.0.
Like Giulia, there’s a DNA drive mode selector. Leave it in Dynamic for the best results, and you won’t find the ride harsh at all.
Steering is quick, it feels planted and just right; with loads of grip for cornering.
With Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel-drive system, the front wheels only are fed power when necessary, otherwise it operates as a rear-wheel-drive sportster.
Now, Stelvio performs just fine in all other drive modes as well, it just kind of gives you the impression that’s not where it wants to be.
At 111.0-inches, wheelbase is exactly the same as the Giulia, but with a little more material outbound, overall length comes in about two inches longer.
For the most part it shares the same aggressive face, but lines are a little more pronounced, especially down the sides.
There are 9-different tire and wheel packages, ranging from standard 18s to 20s.
Even the back end treatment is gorgeous. We almost whish Alfa would have just called it a Giulia wagon, even though we all know to most Americans that would kill it.
Base Stelvios come fairly well equipped, but most buyers will either travel down the Lusso or Sport road for upgrades that match their priorities; wood and nicer leather for the luxury-minded, aluminum trim for the sport-minded.
Like the Giulia, there are only minor traces of any Fiat-Chrysler lineage; materials and fit and finish are on par with European alternatives. It’s a very inviting space, with only a fussy electronic shifter to detract from the serenity.
Rear seat room is not plentiful, but certainly doable for two adults. Capacity in the cargo hold, at 18.5 cubic-ft. is decent, but short of most rivals. Folding the rear seatback will expand the space to 56.5 cubic-ft.
Also like the Giulia sedan, the Stelvio is technically mid-size, but lies more in the middle ground between compact and middle-weight SUVs.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22-City, 28-Highway, and 24-Combined. For a reasonable Energy Impact Score of 13.7-barrels of yearly oil use with 6.0-tons of CO2 emissions.
Stelvio base pricing is a very reasonable $42,990, though options are many and costly. We figure most Stelvio’s will go for low to mid 50’s.
According to the folks at Alfa, there was no point in adding yet another utility vehicle into a congested pool full of very nice import and domestic-branded luxury crossovers; unless it was the most powerful, highest-performing vehicle in its class. The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is just that. It’s a fabulous effort. So, Alfa’s biggest challenge will be getting butts in seats to try it out. Once they do, Stelvio will sell itself.
- Engine: 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 280
- Torque: 306 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- EPA: 22 mpg city / 28 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 13.7 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 6.0 tons/yr
2023 GMC Canyon
Canyon Goes Bigger
Most people know the GMC Canyon as the Chevrolet Colorado’s professional grade cousin. And while that sounds like just marketing speak, with an all-new design of GM’s midsize truck platform comes more genuine brand separation. So, let’s see what the third-gen GMC Canyon delivers in real time!
Small trucks are once again a big deal, and part of the reason is that they are no longer small. There’s not much about this 2023 GMC Canyon that resembles the ¼-ton Sonomas, S-10s, Rangers, and Datsun trucks that were wildly popular in the 1980s.
Of course, then, people were willing to sacrifice certain “big-truck” things for an easier to use and more economical pickup experience. Well, we don’t seem to be big on compromise for much of anything these days, and the current midsize crop of trucks deliver more than ever. So fittingly, the 2023 Canyon will be available as a Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed. No more extended cab or long bed options. Wheelbase is about 3-inches longer than before, with the front wheels pushed more towards the front. It definitely looks tougher, and they’ve even eliminated the much-hated front air dam that protruded well below the front bumper.
The Canyon also comes exclusively with the high-output version of GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4, with a stout 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque. At times it feels even more powerful than those numbers would indicate, with its diesel-like torque delivery enabling a best-in-class max tow rating of 7,700-lbs. No choice of transmission either, strictly 8-speed automatic, but you can still decide whether you want rear or 4-wheel-drive.
At minimum, ground clearance is 9.6-inches, which is more than an inch taller than last year, and almost 2-inches over Chevy’s base Colorado. And since it’s all about the off-road packages these days, our AT4 tester comes with 4-wheel drive, off-road suspension, locking rear diff, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, and 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.
And that’s just where things get started, as at the top of the heap, there’s a new AT4X with 10.7-inches of ground clearance, enhanced front and rear e-locking differentials, 33-inch mud terrain tires, Multimatic dampers, and an additional Baja Drive Mode. We’ll have more on the AT4X real soon.
But for all Canyons, including this AT4, GMC went tech-heavy, as all get 11-inch infotainment screens and a fully digital driver display in either 8 or 11-inches. Plus, an available head up display comes with most trims, and there are even optional underbody cameras.
Unique AT4 features include a Jet Black and Timber interior motif with stitched logos on the leather front seats. Those seats are definitely comfortable, and it feels maybe a tad roomier than before, but still well shy of the sprawling space in a full-size truck. It’s even more noticeable in the rear, though there are more practical storage options back here.
The AT4 gets a sliding rear window, along with a tailgate storage system to complement the integrated ruler, and bed side-mounted 120-volt power outlet. The Canyon already delivered one of the best rides in the midsize class, and the taller suspension seems to only improve on that; it’s not quite crossover plush, but certainly great for a body on frame truck.
Though the higher ground clearance and off-road emphasis kept it from being a track star. Indeed, healthy amounts of understeer and body roll greeted us in our handling course. It was a little hesitant off the line in speed runs, but once rolling, power poured on steadily. 0-60 in only 7.5-seconds, and through the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AT4 are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged an acceptable 18.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with a 2-wheel-drive Elevation at $38,395. That puts it at midlevel Chevrolet Colorado, with is consistent with the mission of the new Canyon. All other trims come with 4-wheel drive, this AT4 starting at $45,395, and the AT4X now eclipsing Denali as the highest offering at $56,995.
So, as small trucks have grown, so has the price of entry. But if that doesn’t scare you off, there is no denying the 2023 GMC Canyon is yes bigger, but also bolder and badder than before. Does that necessarily make it better? We say positively yes!
- Engine: 2.7L Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 310
- 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 121 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed auto
- Torque: 430 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 91 mph
- EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined