Alfa Romeo is expanding its US lineup with an all-new compact SUV called the Tonale (Toe-Nah-Lee). It's an important vehicle to the brand as they shift toward electrification and expansion here in the US. It joins the current Giulia sedan and mid-size Stelvio SUV as the most affordable Alfa.
The Tonale is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission that pairs an electric motor with a 1.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Combined, it delivers 285 horsepower and 347-pound feet of torque with an electric range of around 30 miles. It is available in three trims known as the Sprint, Ti, and Veloce. Sprint models start at $42,995 while Veloce models start at $49,695. Competition includes vehicles like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Lexus NX, Lincoln Corsair and Volvo XC40.
If this new Tonale seems familiar to the also-new Dodge Hornet, it's because they are both part of the parent company, Stellantis. Both the Hornet and Tonale share a lot of the same equipment, components, and body panels despite each of them having very distinct looks and overall flavors. They even share a powertrain, with the Alfa featuring the standard plug-in hybrid system mentioned above that is optional for the Dodge. Both models are also built side-by-side at a Stellantis plant in Naples, Italy. I spent a week in the Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce FWD and here is what stood out...Exterior Style (+)
There is no mistaking the new Tonale for anything other than an Alfa Romeo. The Tonale design gets inspiration from Alfa Romeo's racing history in its overall design. Its family resemblance to other Alfa Romeo's starts up front with the signature shield grille. The new "floating" shield stands out, no longer as part of the bumpers but as a distinctive element. The lower part includes two main side air intakes; together with the shield, they create what has been known for several generations as the "Trilobo." In the upper part of the front, notable features include headlights that highlight the concept of "3+3", another result of the reworking of iconic models from the 1990s, such as the SZ Zagato and the Proteo concept car. These LED lights provide a unique lighting signature and are further optimized with a sequential welcome light and turn signal.
The Tonale features a clean side profile with a smooth, high beltline. It looks toned, elegant, and athletic. The rear quarter panel is distinct with a curved fixed window and flared fender. Around back, LED lighting takes center stage with a signature that stretches from one side to the other. The taillights feature the same 3+3 design seen up front and the exhaust pipes are built into the rear bumper. The overall proportions look good with minimum overhangs, tight body gaps and a solid fit and finish.Wheels (+)
Standard on the Sprint and Ti models are 18" silver 5-hole wheels with 19" diamond cut 5-holes as an option on the Sprint and 20" Grigio 5-Holes available on the Ti. Step up to the Veloce where the 19" wheels are standard and the 20" Grigios are a $2,000 option. All these 5-hole wheels designs look great on the Tonale and add to its overall design appeal.Performance (+)
All Tonale models come with a turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor and a 15.5-kWh battery that generates a combined 285 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. All-Wheel drive is standard, and it pairs with a 6-speed automatic. Power is good as it zips from 0-60 in around 5.6 seconds. One thing that surprised me with this plug-in hybrid was the rumbly noises at idle and higher RPMs as I had expected it to be a quieter SUV. It generally shifts smoothly between hybrid and electric other than the engine noise getting louder. It flows through the gears quickly and precisely as you accelerate.
There are three drive modes controlled through a center console mounted D.N.A. selector. D is the Dual Power/Dynamic mode that provides maximum performance with full output from the turbocharged engine. It is the most engaging ride for any type of driving outside of city traffic if fuel economy is not a concern. N is the Natural mode that manages the switch between electric and engine automatically. It's an ideal setting for everyday use and non-performance-oriented drivers. Finally, the A mode is for Advanced Efficiency which maximizes the electric range. The Tonale will only use power from the 15.5-kWh battery to drive the rear electric motor for more than 30 miles. Once the battery reaches its minimum state of charge, the 1.3-liter engine will start, and the vehicle will operate like a traditional hybrid with continued efficiency and extended range. Handling (+)
My feelings on the Tonale's handling improved the more I drove it. While it initially felt too stiff, I came to realize that it's more advanced than I expected. The dual-stage valve active suspension features electronically controlled damping to adjust to the roadways and driving conditions. It can automatically shift from a stiffer feel on a smooth surface to something more posh over bumps. Steering is light and quick while the Brembo brakes provide strong stopping power. It handles turns well with minimal body lean and feels grounded with room to push it. It feels light and nimble in all kinds of driving conditions. I took it on the highway for a longer distance cruise and was comfortable merging into traffic and passing. For extra fun, it comes with aluminum shift paddles behind the steering wheel to manually control the gears for a bit more engagement and sportiness. Around town, it's easy to navigate through tight roads and around corners. It's a well-balanced package that will have a broad appeal. Efficiency / Range (+/-)
When it arrived with a full 12-gallon tank, it had a driving range of 318 miles gas and 33 miles of all-electric driving. EPA estimates 29 MPG combined on gas and 77MPGe when combining its electric range. The 33 miles of electric range seemed to deplete quicker than other PHEVs like the Volvo XC40 or Lexus NX PHEV. After a week of driving (with a lot of highway miles) I garnered 34 MPG which was better than anticipated. I do wish it had a larger fuel tank to expand its overall driving range as the 300ish miles doesn't go far on a road trip and will require more frequent fill-ups. Other than that, it's an efficient vehicle.Charging (+/-)
The Tonale has a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which provides an all-electric driving range of 30+ miles on a full charge. Its onboard charger is rated at 7.4 kilowatts. According to Alfa Romeo, recharging the battery takes roughly eight hours using a 120-volt household-style outlet (Level 1). I plugged in to my 120-volt household outlet overnight and never quite got to the full 33-mile potential in eight hours. A 240-volt outlet or Level 2 public charging station can shorten this charge time to 2.5 hours which was accurate when I plugged it into a Level 2 Charger at our office. There's a lot of factors in charging, but the Tonale seems to be pretty average in its time requirements.Interior (+)
Hopping inside, drivers will face a 12.3" digital gauge cluster behind a three-spoke steering wheel with aluminum paddle shifters. Like other Alfas, the push button start button is on the steering wheel and may take some getting used to. The digital cluster can be programmed to one of three layouts that include Evolved, Relax, and Heritage, all with their own unique layout and look. The interior is appointed with a mix of aluminum trim as well as leather and microsuede surfaces. At the top of the dash is a 10.25" infotainment touchscreen with an aluminum trim piece that stretches across the dash that illuminates at night. It gives the interior some design character and makes the touchscreen appear as if it's floating at night. Behind the traditional gear selector is a wireless charging tray that is large enough for current mobile devices and easily accessible. The interior vibe feels trendy and modern with class appropriate materials. Technology (+)
The Tonale utilizes the fifth generation Uconnect system found in other Stellantis products. It works well and is intuitive. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integrate wirelessly without issues. Exclusive and customizable home screen features sharper tailor-made graphics, colors, themes and fonts to match the variety of trim levels and allows quick access to frequently used features with one-touch operation. The 10.25" screen seems appropriate at first, however, the full screen is not utilized when active creating smaller buttons for navigating through the system and apps. Other competitors have incorporated larger touchscreens for better navigation and visibility.
It does come with an Alfa Connected Services tool with Over-the-Air capability that seamlessly loads updates, keeping the infotainment system fresh with the latest software improvements. The Tonale also maintains traditional buttons and knobs for alternative audio/climate controls. Seating (+/-)
The Tonale is a five-seat SUV with an average amount of space inside for passengers. Cloth upholstery, heated front seats with power adjustments and a heated steering wheel are standard. The front seats provide plenty of head & legroom and are easily adjusted to find an ideal seating position. They are comfortable and supportive on a long drive. Rear seats also provide a decent amount of room for passengers as all three of my kids comfortably sat across. The rear door openings are slightly awkward as the back window piece is part of the door and juts out just enough that you'll want to make sure you're not parked too close to a wall or another car. Leather, suede-like Alcantara upholstery and ventilated front seats are all available options. Cargo (+/-)
Overall cargo volume is average for the class and will be sufficient for most buyers. There is 22.9 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 50.5 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. Base models come standard with a manual liftgate, but a hands-free power liftgate is available.
Technology is also key regarding safety and driver assist features. The Tonale features Level 2 autonomous driving with advanced driver-assist systems. The Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control worked very well for my road trip up to Michigan and it maintained speed and lane centering just as it should. It is easy to figure out and works well. Traffic Jam Assist is also a handy feature when you're stuck in those stop-and-go traffic situations and reduces fatigue on the driver.
Standard driver-assistance features include:
* Rearview camera
* Front and rear parking sensors
* Blind-spot monitoring
* Rear cross-traffic alert
* Forward collision warning
* Pedestrian and cyclist detection
* Forward automatic emergency braking
* Lane-departure warning
* Lane-keep assist
* Adaptive cruise control
* Traffic-sign recognition
* Driver-attention monitoring
* Adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams
Also available are surround-view parking camera system, hands free park assist, and the aforementioned intelligent adaptive cruise control system. The Tonale is too new for crash test scores and reliability, but Alfa Romeo seems to have equipped the Tonale with all the features you'd need and/or want.Final Statement:
This is the most mainstream Alfa Romeo yet that should appeal to a lot of new buyers. I think it has a beautiful design that offers just enough Italian flare without going too far. It performs well with nimble handling, good power, and a smooth transition from electric to gas. Prices are appropriate, but there are a lot of contenders in this class. This one is worth a spin and consideration. First Impression Summary
Test Vehicle: 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
Misano Blue MetallicInterior Color:
1.3L I4 Turbo PHEVOptions:
Premium paint ($660), Preferred Package 28E ($2,500), Active Assist Advanced Package ($2,000), 20" 5-hole wheels ($2,000), Power moonroof ($1,200)MSRP as tested:
$57,450 (With Delivery/Destination)