2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Review

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale - Alfa's first compact crossover is the Tonale, but does it have true Alfa DNA?


An all-new entry for 2024, the Tonale is Alfa Romeo's smallest crossover and it's first-ever hybrid vehicle. Mechanically similar to the new Dodge Hornet, Tonale comes only as a 5-passenger, 4-door wagon and competes with vehicles like the Acura RDX, BMW X1, Lexus UX and Volvo XC40 Recharge.

Three models are offered: Sprint, Ti and Veloce. All are powered by a turbocharged 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine that's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. An electric motor on the rear axle is powered by a 15.5 kWh battery to provide a combined output of 285 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. While the battery can be charged by regenerative breaking to provide normal hybrid operation, owners can also plug in to boost battery charge and provide for an all-electric range of about 33 miles.

Prices start at 43,845. Standard safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic aleart, and front and rear parking sensors. The Sprint comes standard with 18-inch wheels, LED lighting, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity, wireless charging tray. Optional features include Harman Kardon premium audio system, ventilated front seats, and active driving assist.

No matter the trim, all Tonale models get the same plug-in hybrid powertrain. In the case of the Tonale, the powertrain is tuned for performance as well as efficiency. Stomp the gas, regardless of battery charge and the Tonale will run from 0 to 60 MPH in 5.5 seconds. That's quicker than just about anything in the class and, because the electric motor makes instant torque, the Tonale jumps off the line, compared to sleepy throttle tip-in performance of some competitors.

Being a plug-in hybrid, Tonale can provide exceptional fuel efficiency. Can being the operative word. Owners must take the time to plug in to provide full battery charge to maximize efficiency. Otherwise, Tonale operates like a regular hybrid, providing a mix of gas and electric operation. Even so, EPA rating isan unimpressive 29 MPG combined. In addition, premium-grade fuel is recommended.

Dynamically, the Alfa has the chops to be competitive with the sporty models in the class -- adaptive dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 tires - but it fails to deliver. The dampers have two settings, Comfort and Sport. Sport is stiff, providing an uncomfortably harsh ride and undue body motions. The base setting is more relaxed. In either mode, the handling is solid though certainly not engaging. The biggest let down is numb and uncommunicative steering. Though it heavies up in the sportier setting it lacks sharpness and has little sense of straight-ahead.
One positive note on the driving experience are the brakes. Occasionally hybrid vehicles have unusual brake feel and lack the smoothness of traditional hydraulic brakes. That's not the case in the Tonale. The brake pedal is easy to modulate and stopping is both smooth and progressive.

Interior noise levels are quite low. The engine does growl with an expensive note in hard acceleration, but never intrudes.

The interior shares its architecture with the Dodge Hornet. However it includes a true shift lever and physical buttons. In addition, the Alfa places the starter button on the steering wheel and the drive-mode dial on the console - the opposite setup is found on the Dodge. Materials are appropriate for the price but seem a cut below class leaders in terms of overall finish and execution.

All models get a customizable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster housed under a twin-hump cowl. The center 10.3-inch center touchscreen offers a high degree of customization and can show one, two, or three tiles on the home screen, although the touch points are small. Wireless phone mirroring and wireless device charging are standard. There are physical buttons for the climate control and a volume knob, thankfully.

The seats are quite firm, and the Veloce features red-accented Alcantara upholstery or optional leather. Front-seat leg room is good, but head room is only marginal and the door openings are quite low. Rear-seat room is appropriate for the class, meaning that full-size adults will be asking for the front-seat passengers to move forward. Seat comfort is good.

On the technology front, the Tonale is class competitive. It offers all of the expected safety and connectivity features. Unlike some others in the class, it doesn't require subscriptions or driver authentication.

Cargo space is reasonable, if a bit on the small side. Rear seats up Tonale offers 23 cu. ft. of space, rear seats folded that number increases to 51 cu. ft. both numbers below the class average. Interior storage is good with several open and covered bins throughout the cabin, decent-size map pockets and a roomy glovebox.

Bottom Line -- Certainly late to the game, Tonale tries to break through with innovative plug-in hybrid tech and a dash of Alfa Romeo DNA. Unfortunately, there's not enough of that sporty goodness to stand out. Still, Tonale can be a compelling and unique choice for buyers looking for something different. It can be argued that the similar Dodge Hornet offers similar dynamics and utility for thousands less. But, of course, it doesn't sport the Alfa crest.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.