Glaring annoyances that refuse to defuse after a week of driving

I’ve spent the week living with the all-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. This new crossover is from a brand that’s new to the segment and new to mainstream consumer vehicles in the U.S. Under the watchful eye of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Alfa Romeo is trying hard to make its Stateside comeback with the Giulia sedan and this, the Stelvio crossover. While the Giulia is a fantastic sedan, it’s crossovers that are selling like hotcakes these days, so Alfa needs to nail the Stelvio. Thankfully for this Italian brand, there is plenty to love about the Stelvio, but there’s also a few things I just can’t stand.

Keep reading for my four things I hate about the 2018 Stelvio Sport. And as always, let us know what you think in the comments.

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4. Finicky Infotainment System

Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Interior
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Alfa has its own system that relies on a dial and two buttons for navigating through the menus

The Alfa Romero Stelvio might be a member of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but it doesn’t get FCA’s highly regarded Uconnect system. Rather, Alfa has its own system that relies on a dial and two buttons for navigating through the menus. There’s no touchscreen here. For the most part, the system works okay and is fairly intuitive to get around within. In practice, though, downward clicks via the rotary knob don’t always elicit a response. The menu within the vehicle settings page is also odd, with some items getting a sub-menu, while others are controlled right from the main page.

The infotainment system also lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And though the main rotary dial has a black face, it’s not a trackpad. Like Audi’s infotainment system, inputting an address or other information is done by rotating the dial and scrolling through the alphabet, however, unlike Audi, you can’t just write the letter or number. Entering an address just takes longer on the Alfa and requires more concentration.

Lastly, the system’s backup camera display is tiny relative to the screen’s 8.8-inch size. I found myself having to lean closer to the screen for a better view. The terrible resolution doesn’t help, either.

3. Twitchy Steering

Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Interior
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The steering is some of the tightest and most rewarding I’ve sampled in a crossover

The Stelvio is a sporty crossover, even without the Quadrifoglio trim. In addition to its potent turbocharged four-cylinder, its steering is set up for instant responsiveness and minimal turns lock-to-lock. Honestly, the steering is some of the tightest and most rewarding I’ve sampled in a crossover. it’s actually very enjoyable when driving with gusto.

But point the Stelvio down the open road, and the steering’s tightness becomes a downfall. Its on-center responsiveness is almost extreme. Even the smallest of inputs sends the Stelvio’s front tires changing direction. Combined with its taller stance and initial body lean, and the crossover can easily feel top heavy and boatish – sending occupants heads bobbling left and right. I couldn’t imagine being a second-row passenger with a steering-happy driver behind the wheel. Talk about getting carsick!

2. Interior Quality

Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Interior
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The front seats could use a better design

The Alfa Romeo’s interior, for the most part, is rather nice. The materials feel upscale and the fitment between panels is tight. However, there are a few details that spoil the overall experience. For one, the electronic shifter feels cheap. It even has a rough edge around the top and just isn’t satisfying to use. The front seats could use a better design. They are stiff and have almost no bolstering. The bottom cushion is too short and leaves thighs feeling unsupported. The infotainment system’s main control knob doesn’t have as rich a feel as it should, either.

Overall, the Stelvio’s interior is nice, but it has some things to improve upon.

1. Overly Sensitive Brakes

Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Exterior
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It’s nearly impossible to smoothly ease pressure off the pedal when slowing

Topping my list of things I hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is its brakes. See, Alfa uses a brake-by-wire system, meaning there is no physical connection between the brake pedal and the hydraulic brake system. Behind the wheel, the brakes do a great job of stopping the Stelvio hard thanks to big four-piston Brembo calipers up front and single piston Brembos out back. On the highway, the brakes are easy to modulate, despite the brake pedal’s short travel. The problem comes with that short-travel pedal at lower speeds. It’s nearly impossible to smoothly ease pressure off the pedal when slowing. What feels like a millimeter of travel changes the braking from too little to too much. Slowing to a stop without a hard jolt at the end is basically impossible, regardless of how carefully I tried.

Besides being intensely frustrating for me as a driver, it proved rough on my passengers. Being stuck in stop-and-go traffic is a nightmare. I’d rather deal with a heavy clutch pedal than these brakes. Alfa seriously needs to dial in more pedal travel to help make the brake bite more progressive and even throughout the pedal travel.

Making it worse for Alfa, I had this same complaint with the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio I drove earlier this year. I even wrote an entire article ranting about it.

Dishonorable Mention: Annoying Noises

Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Interior
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On startup, the Stelvio beeps, bongs, chimes, and clangs for a good 10 seconds as the systems come online. Of the noises, the seatbelt reminder is the worst. It sounds like that ultra loud, mid-range-pitched bong that violently awakens airline passengers awake as the pilot needlessly breaks the cabin’s calm silence as the plane starts its initial descent. The Stelvio’s chime bad enough to induce a headache – or to retrain the driver to buckle up before turning the car on.

References

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

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Read more Alfa Romeo news.

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