If you’re looking for a compact ride that’s both stylish and dynamic, Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio might be an attractive option.
But which year should you buy?
Check out our advice below.
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Alfa Romeo Stelvio Overview
First appearing on the luxury SUV scene in 2016, the model gets its name from an Italian mountain pass laced with famously twisty roads – and if that sounds like fun to you, the Stelvio would probably be a great fit.
But the Italian brand has also developed a reputation for, let’s say, a certain quirkiness.
The Stelvio isn’t immune, and common points of contention include:
- limited front seat adjustment,
- highly sensitive parking sensors,
- and less-than-competitive technology offerings.
The Stelvio has also received consistent criticism for its lackluster interior detailing, and is rather tight on storage space.
To top it off, we still don’t have a great picture of their long-term reliability. Few Stelvios have reached the 5-year mark, and none are close to ten years old.
Still, it’s impossible to deny that the Stelvio delivers a superb driving experience, one that just may be enough to overcome its other flaws. And if the Italian model’s sportiness has you sold, you’ll likely want an idea of which model year is the best value. We’ve done some of the research for you, and outlined it all below.
The Best And Worst Years For Alfa Romeo Stelvio Are:
For the best value on an Alfa Romeo Stelvio, you’ll want to choose a model from 2017, 2020, or 2021. Years to avoid for the Stelvio include 2018, 2019, and 2022. These model years tended to have the most recalls and driver complaints.
What Alfa Romeo Stelvio Years Are The Most Reliable?
Alfa Romeo seemed to want to make sure that the launch of their new SUV was close to perfect, as there have been few reported issues with the debut model.
The 2017 model year doesn’t seem to have any of the manufacturing issues that plagued some 2018 and 2019 cars, and has a clean NHTSA record.
That means you’re likely to get all of the perks of driving a Stelvio, with a lower chance of having to book a visit to the mechanic.
The Stelvio debut also earned a 5-star safety rating from NCAP, the European standard for vehicle safety, an scored an impressive 97% in the adult protection category.
The major downside to this model is that it’s a few years older, and the Stelvio’s technology features have never been cutting edge.
But if having the latest gadgets doesn’t hold much importance for you, it might be the perfect choice.
By 2020, Alfa Romeo seems to have gotten most of the kinks out of its new model.
They also gave it a bit of a facelift, so if you’re looking for more modern technology, this would be a great year option.
The brand added features such as a larger – though still small by most other standards – 8.8 inch touchscreen, a WiFi hotspot, and a call assistance function.
The center console also received an update, with sleeker and more intuitive styling.
New driver assistance features became available, as well as two new paint color options.
The 2020 model received a solid 4.5 stars out of 5 on Edmunds, and a 4.9 on Cars.com, with drivers praising its sports-car-esque feel and its unique styling.
Only a few owners were disappointed by reliability issues early on after purchase.
2021 saw a continuation of the 2020 model’s success. There were few changes made for the new year, so the two models are fairly similar.
The vehicle continued to see praise for its:
- drive performance,
- and safety.
It has only a single complaint on the NHTSA site – a small improvement over the two complaints filed for the 2020 model.
Go with the 2021 to get the maximum performance out of your new vehicle, while knocking off the high sticker price of the newest model.
What Alfa Romeo Stelvio Years Should You Avoid?
2018 was not the best year for the Stelvio.
It saw a record high number of recalls by the NHTSA – eight in total – as well as more than thirty driver complaints. About half of the recalls occurred in the span of a few months.
Some of these were fairly minor, such as a potentially faulty fuel gauge reading. But others were a real hazard, including a few having to due with corrosion issues, which could cause electrical signals to go berserk.
Over a third of the complaints were related to the engine, with:
- drivers reporting engine misfires,
- sudden loss of engine power,
- and leaking oil.
Several drivers stated that their vehicle slowed down mid-drive and failed to accelerate.
Some of these issues appeared as early as 20,000 miles, and often ran owners a steep bill.
Luckily, some of these problems ended up covered under the recalls. Two recalls issued in September 2018 dealt with manufacturing defects that could cause engines to overheat, and affected nearly 35,000 vehicles.
There were also a myriad of other issues reported, from cruise control problems to rear liftgate malfunctions. These issues were at best a headache to deal with, at at worst a real safety concern.
Still, the car held its own as far as driver reviews, with a steady 4.3 stars on Edmunds.
Many reviewers acknowledged the vehicle’s tendency to mechanical flaws, but pointed out that it’s tough to find an SUV that drives like the Stelvio at the same price point.
2019 continued the poor trend set by the 2018 model year, with only slight improvement.
It saw some of the same recalls, including the ones related to the malfunctioning fuel gauge and adaptive cruise control.
For the cruise control issue, Alfa Romeo found that the feature could sometimes fail to deactivate, leaving drivers unable to regain control of their speed. This recall affected nearly 20,000 vehicles.
Complaints went down significantly, however, with only 5 reported to the NHTSA. The most serious of these had to do with brake failure, a frightening issue for any driver to experience.
One reported instance even resulted in a crash, though luckily there were no injuries.
The 2022 is still a bit of a toss-up – as such a new model, it’s hard to tell how it will perform over the long-term.
While not much has changed from the successful 2020 and 2021 model years, the vehicle’s rating on Edmund’s has also dipped slightly, down to 4.2 stars.
That’s still a decent number, but considering the Stelvio’s resale trajectory, why pay more for a very similar vehicle?
What Are Some Typical Problems With The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Models?
The most typical issues faced when driving a Stelvio are fuel gauge inaccuracies, braking issues, and engine troubles.
Occasionally, water leaks would also cause problems with the electrical system; this was a frequent NHTSA complaint on the 2018 models.
Owners most commonly complain of engine problems on the 2018 and 2019 Stelvios, often reporting random stalling and engine misfires. The issue has often been traced to a leak in the coolant system or from the fuel line sensor housing.
Both of these can lead to problems with the engine overheating, thus leading to greater stress on the components. Recalls were issued in 2020 and 2019 dealing with both issues.
One of the more wide-ranging recalls also had to do with the adaptive cruise control system, or ACC. This recall affected nearly 20,000 vehicles from the 2018 and 2019 model years.
When it comes down to it, you’re probably not going to choose to purchase a Stelvio on the basis of practicality.
But practicality might just factor into which Stelvio you choose – and hopefully, our recommended models can have you zipping along with thoughts of repair shops dwindling in the distance.
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.