There's just something (how do you say "je ne sais quoi" in Italian?) about Alfa Romeos. Is it the grille? Those fabulous wheels?
Yes, by and large, they're great to drive, but even people who have never driven one sense something special when they see an Alfa. And that applies to the new 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale---a small (seven inches shorter than a Honda CR-V, and two inches shorter than the tiny Honda HR-V) crossover SUV.
The parenthetical competition to the Hondas above was purely for a quick point of reference. The logical competitors to the Tonale are the Mercedes-Benz GLA , the Audi Q3 , the Volvo XC40 and the BMW X1.
And to further blow your mind, this is a small crossover SUV plug-in hybrid.
Alfa, best known for brilliant-handling sport sedans like the Guilia, has had a crossover SUV on the market for the past five years, the Stelvio, which can also be had as the 505-horsepower Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but a PHEV is uncharted waters for this brand.
The gasoline part of this hybrid package is a 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder. Total system output is 285 horsepower, there's 350 lb-ft of torque and 0-60 happens in 6.0 seconds. The advantage of a plug-in hybrid is a given range of pure electric power before the gasoliine/electric combo kicks in. For the Tonale, that's a very respectable 32 miles. Meaning if you have a 15-mile commute each way, and plug in every night, you needn't use a drop of gasoline or put a particle of pollution into the air until you need to go beyond the charge...at which point the hybrid delivers an EPA-estimated 29 miles per gallon combined city/highway.
That's all really good stuff, but the Tonale seems to be missing the razor-sharp handling found in the Guilia and Stelvio. It's by no means sloppy, but it's a bit...ordinary.
The interior, at least in the front row, goes a long way toward alleviating that---it tells you right away that you're in an Alfa, and the pieces, for the most part, have a premium feel.
Our tester was the top-of-the-line Tonale Veloce. Base price, including destination, $49,090. Alfa is advertising a $7,500 incentive for qualified lessees, so if leases are something that works for you, there's a major price break. The Veloce packs a lot of standard equipment into that starting price. That includes a comprehensive suite of active safety features, wireless charging, 8-way power adjustable heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, ambient lighting, LED headlamps, taillamp and fog lights, 19-inch diamond-cut five-hole wheels, gloss-red brake calipers, dual chrome exhaust tips and a power liftgate.
The test vehicle also had some significant extra-cost options: The Verde Fangio metallic paint was $2,200, the Premium Interior and Sound Package (perforated and ventilated front leather seats, a driver seat memory function and an upgraded Harman Kardon premium audio system) added $2,500, the Active Assist Advanced Package (automatic-dimming exterior mirror, active driving assist, surround-view camera and parking assist) was another $2,000, a power moonroof was $1,200 and an upgrade from 19 to 20-inch wheels put another $2,000 on the tab.
Bottom line of the window sticker: $58,990.
And yes, that is a big price tag for a small crossover. Of the likely competitive set mentioned above, only the Volvo costs more---and it's a full electric, not a PHEV. Still, the Alfa has that---Alfaness---and it's up to you what price you put on that. Maybe check out the lease deal, too.