2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Episode 3704 , Episode 3717
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

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. 

Specifications

  • 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
2024 Lexus GX550

2024 Lexus GX550

It’s A Land Cruiser With A Lexus Badge

Episode 4344
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When most people think of Lexus SUVs, they tend to think of the RX, and for good reason. The RX was a key player in popularizing the luxury SUV market as we know it today. But, the Lexus SUV world is much bigger than that, of course, including something for adventurous, rugged, off-road types.

We’re not about to claim that there’s some kind of body-on-frame SUV resurgence happening, but it’s clear that car-like crossovers haven’t fully taken over the SUV world just yet; and more than any other brand, Toyota seems on a mission to make SUVs truly great again. Even when it comes to their Lexus brand with this new 2024 Lexus GX550.

When the first gen GX arrived for 2003, it seemed to go out of its way to disguise its substantial off-road capabilities behind some very soft-roader sheet-metal, but those that knew… knew that underneath, the GX was based on the rugged J120 Land Cruiser. Fast forward to this third-gen GX, and it looks like Lexus is fully embracing that Land Cruiser kinship going boxier and bolder than ever before. Square lines, chunky fenders, wide track, short overhangs, highly vertical windshield; all hallmarks of serious off-roaders.

The GX is also the first Lexus to benefit from their Overtrail Project which encourages Lexus owners to get out of their comfort zones and experience what their luxo-ute is actually capable of. So, Overtrail models are outfitted with 33-inch all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels, a locking rear diff, and an Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that can independently unlock both front and rear stabilizer bars for more wheel articulation.

2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Front
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2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Rear
2024 Lexus GX550 Wheel
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2024 Lexus GX550 Grille
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Just like the recently released Toyota J250 Land Cruiser, the GX is built on Toyota’s Tundra truck frame, but instead of a four-cylinder turbo-hybrid, it’s launching with a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 with 349-horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s 48-horsepower and 150 lb-ft over the previous GX’s V8. Max tow rating shoots up from 6,500 to 9,096-lbs. The GX works exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with full-time four-wheel-drive and a two-speed transfer case standard. Lexus says a hybrid option will be available later, but no word on if it’s the Land Cruiser’s 2.4-liter I4 hybrid or the V6 hybrid that’s currently available in the Tundra pickup.

It doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to appreciate the high seating position and great visibility of the GX; as rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too. There’s a big control center in front of the dash with a high-mounted 14-inch touchscreen, and dedicated knobs for temperature and volume just below. A third row of seating is available in most trims, providing space for six or seven passengers. But if you go Overtrail, Lexus assumes you’re not the big family type and would rather have the space for packing adventure gear, so it’s the only trim that is five-passenger only.

As rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too.

While the double-wishbone front and rear multi-link suspension of this Overtrail is clearly off-road inspired, it held up well enough in our Mason Dixon Dragway handling course. Slow and steady definitely won the race here, as the GX felt big and heavy, with notable weight shifting on transitions through the cones, and light steering. Stability systems were eager to kick in well before things could get out of sorts.

Buyers can add Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension for smoothing things out on the highways without sacrificing off-road capabilities. It launched quite aggressively off the line in acceleration runs; again, sturdy and truck-like, with all four wheels biting into the pavement and propelling us forward harder than we were expecting, hitting 60 in 6.5 seconds.

2024 Lexus GX550 Dashboard
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2024 Lexus GX550 Infotainment
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2024 Lexus GX550 Front Seat
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Lots of grip and no drama, as this turbo-six puts plenty of power down instantly. It sounds good too; powerful, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was more of a V8 rumble than V6 trumpet. Quarter-mile completed in 14.9-seconds at 94 mph.

Braking runs were a little inconsistent, with the off-road tires seemingly gripping and pulling us in different directions. But stops averaged a great 114-feet from 60 mph, so we’ll accept the slightly unsettled feel.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined; we averaged a respectable 20.1 mpg of Premium. But it garners a worse than average Energy Impact Score of 17.5-barrels of yearly oil use, with 8.3-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts with Premium grade at $64,250, ranging to Luxury at $77,250, with Overtrail in between at $69,250. All trims can be plus sized for additional features.

The 2024 Lexus GX550 is clearly not just another luxury saturated soft-roader. It’s a real deal Land Cruiser with a Lexus moniker, and this Overtrail is the most off-road capable Lexus ever. That not only makes it appealing to traditional Lexus buyers, but to a whole “range” of new conquests as well.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 349
  • Torque: 479 lb-ft
  • EPA: 15 City | 21 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 94 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 114 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg (Premium)
  • Max Tow Rating: 9,096-lbs