The number of Stelvios we’ve seen on the local roads appears to be increasing, which makes us happy since it means more people are discovering the Alfa Romeo mystique, but it’s been awhile since we’ve driven one. We felt it was time to spend some more time behind the wheel and Alfa happened to have a Stelvio Lusso on hand and was feeling indulgent on the day we asked. It arrived dressed in Alfa Rosso paint, looking as Italian as possible.

The Stelvio hasn’t lost it’s good looks. It’s still the same gorgeous five-door SUV that first graced our shores a few years ago. From the V-shaped grille, through the muscular fenders to the tiny Alfa Romeo badge on the back hatch, it stands out as something special in an overcrowded market of endless SUV’s. Inside, the Lusso is wrapped in rich cream-colored leather and filled with a mixture of special design touches and electronic luxuries to enhance the driver’s experience. The seats are firm and comfortable, well-bolstered to keep you in place but not so bolstered that they’re difficult to get over. Both the front and rear seats are heated, as is the steering wheel, but not ventilated like one might expect in a luxury model.

Under the hood lies Alfa Romeo’s sweet little 2.0L turbocharged and direct injected four-cylinder engine. It makes 280 hp and 306 lb-fts of torque. While the specs don’t seem especially overwhelming, the engine is a tiny powerhouse that moves the Stelvio much quicker than you’d expect. While it has decent low-end grunt, the mid-range and upper-range torque really make the Stelvio feel special. The turbo helps the engine pull hard through the rev-range making passing maneuvers quick and worry-free. The power is transmitted through an 8-speed automatic transmission that makes clean, smooth shifts. While the Lusso lacked the beautiful aluminum paddle shifters most Stelvios we’ve driven have, we were able to use the shifter lever to manually upshift and downshift through the gears.

For all the speed the small engine creates, the Stelvio is blessed with large brake rotors and red Brembo calipers that do a fantastic job of slowing and stopping it time after time after time.

The suspension is great. It’s firm and sporting but does a great job of mitigating potholes and highway expansion joints. The steering is incredibly sharp but it tracks straight as an arrow down the road.

If driven conservatively, the Stelvio returns very good mileage. It’s rated at 28mpg on the freeway and 22 mpg in city driving. Our mileage wasn’t quite that good but then we like to dip into the throttle a bit when driving them. You likely will too.

The Stelvio starts at $51,525. Our Lusso stickered at $59,868. It seems a little on the high side but you’d be hard pressed to find as eager an SUV as the Stelvio. In a world of dull SUV’s, the Stelvio stands out as one of the more sporting and enjoyable SUV’s to drive.

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