Pros: Fun to drive with great steering; potent power and torque; usable electric range; beautiful design
Cons: Cramped back seat and tiny cargo area; some chintzy interior bits; other PHEVs are more efficient
While there plenty of choices within the small luxury SUV segment, there are some niches that have not been well-explored. The 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale manages to fit two of them. It is one of the few plug-in hybrids, while also catering to those who love to drive (and look good doing it). Nothing else manages that one-two-three punch of delivering fuel economy, fun and style.
In terms of size, the Tonale is on the smallest end of the luxury SUV world, joining the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes GLA-Class and Volvo XC40, but offers substantially more power along with the unique characteristic (for the segment) of electric driving range, all for just a couple thousand more than the base models of those options. There are a couple larger and more efficient plug-in hybrid options from Lincoln and Lexus, but they’re not nearly as engaging to drive. The sporty Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid, meanwhile, isn’t quite a luxury model. As such, the Alfa is a unique offering well worth your attention.
What’s new for 2024?
The Alfa Romeo Tonale is a completely new model for 2024.
What are the Tonale interior and in-car technology like?
The Tonale’s interior design is clearly in the vein of the Stelvio and Giulia. The dash is curvy with big round air vents and a double-barrel instrument cowl. It has sporty details like the starter button on the dash, and when optioned, beautiful and satisfying aluminum shift paddles that wouldn’t be out of place in a Ferrari or Lamborghini. We love the pops of color provided by the exterior-matching dash panel in the Ti and Veloce, or even better, by the optional configurable multi-color panel that can replace it. Some of the materials around the cabin look and feel too budget-oriented for a luxury vehicle, but on the whole, it’s a solid cabin.
Fortunately, the Tonale does not take its infotainment inspiration from the Stelvio and Giulia. Instead it gets a Uconnect system like its twin, the Dodge Hornet, as well as other newer Chrysler vehicles. It’s displayed on a 10.25-inch screen that’s crisp and responsive, and the system leans heavily on easily tapped icons as well as the ability to customize the system with your preferred apps. It also supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a wireless phone charger. Supporting the infotainment system is a large 12.3-inch instrument display.
How big is the Tonale?
The Tonale’s exterior dimensions straddle the line between compact and subcompact crossovers. For instance, it slides right between two of the other few plug-in hybrid premium crossovers, the Mini Cooper SE Countryman and the Lincoln Corsair PHEV, in regards to length and width. It’s also very close in size to gas-only options such as the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
Inside, however, the Tonale is pure subcompact and even then, not a very big one. There’s a comfortable amount of head and legroom up front, though the feel is a bit narrow. The back seat is quite simply cramped – longer-legged drivers won’t leave much room for those in back, and you’ll struggle to fit a rear-facing child seat inside without moving the front passenger seat up to a near-useless position. Kids in front-facing child seats are also bound to be kicking the seat
We have not had the chance to perform our usual cargo area luggage test on the Tonale, but its Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid twin has the exact same 22.9-cubic-foot cargo number behind the back seat. In short, it performed poorly, even by subcompact SUV standards. We have little reason to believe the Tonale would do any better.
What are the Tonale fuel economy and performance specs?
Only one powertrain is available on the Alfa Romeo Tonale. It’s a plug-in hybrid that combines a turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission at the front with an electric motor at the rear. Combined output between the two sources is 285 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. The rear electric motor is good for 121 horsepower on its own, which is important to keep in mind, considering that in all-electric mode, it will be handling all the propulsion. Though of course, if the pedal is depressed far enough, the engine will automatically kick in, even in full electric mode.
A 15.5-kWh battery pack supplies electric power, and it can provide 33 miles of all-electric range. When the gas engine kicks in, EPA-estimated fuel economy is 29 mpg in combined driving. This means it’s less efficient than the Lexus NX 450h+ (37 miles of range, 36 mpg combined) and Lincoln Corsair PHEV (33 miles of range, 33 mpg combined). It is effectively better than the Mini Countryman PHEV (18 miles, 29 mpg combined), not to mention all the gas-only luxury SUVs that can’t hum along on electricity alone.
What’s the Tonale like to drive?
The Tonale is an impressively fun small crossover, delivering on the sportiness you’d expect from Alfa Romeo. The steering is highly accurate and well-weighted, and the chassis feels eager to corner, even with slightly soft suspension tuning that results in some moderate body roll. This is generally the case whether you go with the standard, fixed suspension, or the electronically adjustable optional shocks. The counter argument for that softer tuning is the resulting compliant ride provided by both suspension options.
With 285 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque, the Tonale feels quite sprightly off the line, and the electric motor makes the throttle response very smooth and quick. Plus, it’s one of the more refined engines we’ve experienced in a plug-in hybrid. Unfortunately, the early shove eventually gives way to a lack of oomph on the upper end of the rev range. Blame the the Alfa’s notable weight at just over 4,000 pounds combined with the natural characteristics of a small engine with a small turbo and an electric motor. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly, but its responses are lacking. That makes using the shift paddles a must when driving enthusiastically, but the great news is that you’ll be looking for excuses to finger Alfa’s beautiful blades of aluminum that sprout from the steering column. They’re optional, but Alfa should really let all its customers revel in their coolness.
As for full-electric driving, the 121-horsepower electric motor feels plenty usable around town, and it will get the Tonale to highway speeds and maintain them. Naturally, it does feel a bit pokey as speeds top around 40-50 mph. You’ll also need to be careful with your right foot to keep it in full electric mode, as there isn’t any sort of detent to let you know that you’ve reached the limit of the electric acceleration and are about to kick on the engine.
What other Alfa Romeo Tonale reviews can I read?
Our first drive behind the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Tonale in the Italian countryside.
There are three trims available for the Tonale, starting out with the Sprint. It has a base price of $45,440, including the $1,595 destination charge. It’s adorned with black exterior trim, 18-inch alloy wheels and full LED lighting, including fog lights, on the outside. Inside, it comes with cloth upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and a wireless phone charger. The instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch display, and the infotainment uses a 10.25-inch display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard along with navigation and a six-speaker sound system.
And a quick note for the Ti: the price includes the cheapest $500 optional paint color. No-charge paint colors on this model require the selection of an additional option package that would make it more expensive. Basically, you have no choice but to pay for paint.
All prices below include the $1,595 destination charge. The Tonale is not eligible for any federal tax credits when buying, as it is built in Italy.
- Sprint: $45,440
- Ti: $47,935
- Veloce: $50,435
As for what you get with the two other trims, it mostly comes down to standard equipment, and in some cases different styling. The Ti adds different 18-inch wheels as well as silver-painted grille, bumper and side sill trim. Inside it gets body-color matched dash trim and a hands-free power hatch. It also gains access to options not available on the Sprint. The Premium Interior and Sound Package adds a memory function to the power driver seat, a Harman Kardon sound system, and perforated leather seats with ventilation. The latter two features are available on their own in the Premium Interior Package, too. Then there’s the High Performance Driving Package that adds the excellent aluminum shift paddles, aluminum pedals and red-painted brake calipers. Larger wheels and a sunroof are also available as standalone options.
Moving up to the Veloce retains the black trim, but adds Veloce badging on the fenders, 19-inch wheels and dual-exit exhaust. It also comes with Alcantara-trimmed seats as standard and the aluminum paddles and pedals from the Ti’s High Performance Driving Package. But the biggest add-on is in the suspension and brakes. It gets electronically adjustable shocks, instead of the fixed versions on the Sprint and Ti. It also gets Brembo four-piston brake calipers up front, and they’re painted red. And aside from the aforementioned High Performance Driving Package, it has the same options as the Ti.
The Tonale comes standard with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, lane-keeping assist, driver inattention warning, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors. The Active Assist package adds a surround-view parking camera system, lane-centering for adaptive cruise control, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and additional parking assist including side detection.
The Tonale had not been crash tested by a third party at the time of this writing.