Alfa Romeo Tonale

Engine noise could hold back sales

Roseville, Calif.- An Italian auto manufacturer, Alfa Romeo longs for success in the U.S. Thus far, those efforts are meager.

However, the luxury vehicle company is hoping its fate in the U.S. receives a suitable boost from the introduction of the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale, a plug-in hybrid crossover SUV. While the Tonale receives many plaudits from various auto reviewers, the compact SUV isn’t as well received here. And the competition – Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLB – is fierce.

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Historically, Alfa Romeo has a fine reputation, producing luxury vehicles that are considered reliable and possess high quality. Despite those traits, the company has never enjoyed much success in the U.S. It halted U.S. sales in 1995 after 24 years, then began again in 2017. The results are minimal – sales of all Alfa Romeo vehicles were 12,843 a year ago.

Chrysler connection

Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has owned Alfa Romeo since 2007, which is why some of its vehicles have the same characteristics as Jeep and RAM vehicles. Yet Alfa Romeo insists one can still see Italian design represented throughout its models that are built at several locations in Italy.

Thanks to its Chrysler connection, it’s no coincidence the 2024 Dodge Hornet plug-in hybrid closely mirrors the Tonale. The Hornet is worth a look before pulling the trigger on the Alfa Romeo version. The Tonale has three trim levels (Sprint, Ti, Veloce) and is based on the same platform as the Jeep Compass and the Hornet.

Growly engine

One of our primarily complaints with the Tonale is a noisy, growly engine. When the engine comes on its noisy and often annoying – it’s even loud when idling. Note the engine noise can be reduced altogether by shifting to the electric-only driving mode.

The 15.5-kWh battery pack provides the Tonale with 30 miles of electric range. Using a Level 2, 240-volt outlet, the SUV battery can be fully charged in about 21/2 hours.

All three versions of the Tonale utilize a 90-kW electric motor that’s paired with a turbocharged 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 285 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. The Tonale goes 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds and has a top electric-only speed of 78 mph. Overall fuel economy is 31-33 mpg.

The Tonale ride is not sporty and lacks above-average mannerisms on challenging roads. We like that it has implemented two regenerative brake levels (normal and high), although the driver can’t control which one the SUV uses.

The drive selector has three modes that includes A (advanced), the most efficient one. The N (Natural) mode uses the electric motor to get going and then ignites the engine in second gear. The D mode (Dual Power) combines both the engine and electric motor and delivers the most performance.

AT A GLANCE – 2024 ALFA ROMEO TONALE

  • Performance: electric motor, turbocharged 1.3-liter, four-cylinder, 285 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 31-33 mpg
  • Price estimate: $43,100 to $47,600
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/100,000; corrosion: 3 years/36,000; battery: 8 years, 100,000 miles

Interior & Safety

interior of the smartly designed Alfa Romeo Tonale

Standard driver safety assistance features include 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 and lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, driver-attention monitoring

Alfa Romeo has employed some old and new in its smartly-designed interior. The standard 10.3-inch touchscreen features a customized home screen that comes standard with wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a wireless charging pad. All the climate controls are physical and reside below the infotainment screen, something that is preferred here.

The front seats are supportive, comfortable and offer good leg and head room. Even though it’s a compact SUV, the Tonale backseat is accommodating for adult passengers. The cargo area is 22.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats and expands to 50.5 cubes with the seats folded.

It remains to be seen how the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale will be received in the U.S. It has some fine features, but the engine noise issue and vague driving mannerisms could prove a major drawback to overall sales.

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