Home » ‘It’s Fine’: My Girlfriend Reviews The Alfa Romeo Tonale In Two Words, I Do It In 2,348

‘It’s Fine’: My Girlfriend Reviews The Alfa Romeo Tonale In Two Words, I Do It In 2,348

Alfa Romeo Tonale Review
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Alfa Romeo is typically regarded as an exotic manufacturer, more special than run-of-the-mill makes like Hyundai or Toyota. It’s known for building cars with a certain passion or spark, the kind you only get when an Italian’s been involved. It’s been trading on that formula for a long time, though, and that passion hasn’t turned into sales. Enter the Alfa Romeo Tonale, which is meant to help turn the company’s fortunes around.

I jumped behind the wheel of the plug-in hybrid Tonale for a week of regular driving to find out if the Tonale had that Alfa magic, and how well it worked on a day-to-day basis in real life.

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What I found was a competent SUV that was devoid of any charm whatsoever.

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Try Something New

American and Japanese manufacturers learned an important lesson long ago. They realized that hitting the SUV button turned into sales, and they’ve been mashing that button ever since. Eventually, Porsche proved that this could work for a niche sports car manufacturer, too, and eventually, everyone else got on board as well.

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Alfa Romeo, with its sales perpetually in the doldrums, eventually decided it had to get on board, too. It started with the Stelvio and then expanded the lineup with the smaller Tonale. People are buying more compact SUVs than they are sedans or hatchbacks, right? So Alfa should build one too, or so the logic goes.

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The Tonale photographs well.
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It’s not entirely lacking in presence, but…

The Tonale isn’t a budget choice; Alfa is a premium Italian brand, thank you very much. In the US, it’s only available as a plug-in hybrid. If you want the cheaper ICE-only versions, you’ll have to look at the badge-engineered Dodge Hornet instead. In any case, $45,440 gets you a 1.3-liter four-cylinder capable of 180 hp on its own. This is a hybrid though, so with the electric motor on board, the drivetrain delivers a combined output of 285 hp and 347 pound-feet of torque. It’s solely available with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. I found myself behind the wheel of the AUDM Veloce plug-in hybrid trim, which retails locally at $78,500 AUD before on-road costs (~$52,000 USD). It seats five and weighs 4,291 pounds.

That chunky curb weight does come at a cost. It’ll only do 29 mpg on gasoline alone, whether city, highway, or combined. However, it can also do 33 miles on battery alone, since it’s a plug-in hybrid. That gets it a combined rating of 77 MPGe from the EPA. Basically, you can expect to drive this thing about 360 miles on a full tank of gas and a full battery combined.

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“Looks kinda like a Suba … wait, that is a Subaru!” The Tonale gets lost in the compact SUV crowd pretty quickly.

On paper, the Alfa is neither hot hero nor sluggard. It seems to land somewhere in the middle. So the real question is: What is driving the Tonale really like?

My first impression on getting in the cockpit was the one that stuck with me for the week. This feels like a competent, comfortable SUV. Despite the “compact” designation, it’s huge compared to what we used to think of as a small car. It’s roomy enough inside. And it could wear just about any badge from Hyundai to Toyota, to, well… Dodge.

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The Tonale features Alfa Romeo’s “DNA” drive mode selector, which plays a key role in how it behaves. D is “dynamic mode,” the most sporting option. It keeps the engine humming and sharpens up responsiveness in the steering and throttle. N is “neutral” mode for regular daily driving. Meanwhile, A stands for “advanced efficiency,” the key mode for taking advantage of the plug-in hybrid’s abilities. It will only fire the engine if you slam the accelerator to the floor.

The Tonale is quite nice to drive on pure electric power; it’s a touch disappointing its range is limited to just 33 miles or so. It’s not fast, but the instant shove of the electric motor is nice, and it doesn’t feel laggardly in city driving. In Neutral mode, the Tonale drivetrain is a perfectly competent hybrid, if unexceptional. It’s hard to wake the beast to enjoy its full power, and transitions between pure electric drive and the engine kicking in are a little more noticeable than you might like. But ultimately, it’s fine.

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It’s not the most interesting engine bay.

Dynamic mode felt like the odd one out to me. In contrast to the other two modes, having the 1.3-liter engine audibly grumbling away at all times was weird in comparison. It felt best suited to a spirited drive on a country backroad with little traffic. That’s not something most of us do with compact SUVs, but if that’s your use case, go ham. For me, using the drivetrain’s full thrust in city traffic felt impractical, particularly given the Tonale’s heft. I’m not sure I see anyone ever using the comically giant aluminum shift paddles to hot-step the six-speed auto, but they’re (optionally) there if you want them.

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What the Tonale deserves the most credit for is its steering. Alfa Romeo specifically gave the model a very quick rack, with just 2.3 turns lock to lock. Despite this, I didn’t find the Tonale to handle in a very sporty way; nothing about it made me want to attack apexes at speed. It’s simply too heavy to inspire that kind of behavior. Regardless, the steering felt very responsive and tactile without a lot of heft. Wheeling around tight carparks and city alleys was a breeze, and I could always tell what the wheels were doing. Cruising at speed was comfortable too; the feel didn’t translate into nervousness on the highway. Transitioning back to my E90 BMW a week later was actually a disappointment.

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The interior is well-built, with seats that hold you nicely and feel lux enough. It’s all black, though, and beyond the crosshair air vents and the Italian flag near the shifter, there’s not much to draw your eye. The US market at least gets contrast red stitching on some models to jazz things up. Without that, it’s a snoozefest. You could be sitting in just about any car when you’re behind the wheel of the Tonale.

The interior electronics are all competent enough. I had some issues getting Android Auto to pair at times, and the dash sometimes threw error warnings up for the crash avoidance system. Other than those niggles, it worked fairly well. Wireless Android Auto is great, and I assume CarPlay works just as well.

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Emotional Response

For getting around town, or cruising the countryside, the Tonale does a fine job. But that’s all it does. There was nothing about the Tonale that made me want to get in and drive it. It wasn’t exciting. It was another silvery-grey SUV in a market full of them. I had about as much fun driving this thing around as I did a Hyundai Santa Fe. Does that mean it’s a bad car? No. Does it mean it’s a bad Alfa Romeo? Well, it does to me. I expected this thing to have something magical about it. Something interesting. But I never found it.

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The phone dials are still glorious. Never stop with these, Alfa. Never stop.

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I’ll temper my criticism by saying that yes, I get it. Alfa Romeo has tried building bright red cars with shouty drivetrains and exhaust notes that rival God’s own voice for sheer healing quality. And that didn’t work. The Giulia didn’t light up the sales charts; neither did so many Alfas that came before.

So Alfa Romeo realized it was time to grow up. It quit its punk band and decided to get a real job. SUVs seemed like a safe meal ticket, so that’s the move it made, like so many guitarists who end up in accounting.

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“Rule, Italia! Italia rules the waves! Wait…”

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Of course, winning at car sales isn’t that simple. The Tonale might be a competent, safe, middle-of-the-road SUV, and that’s fine. But Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, and about fifty other manufacturers all make those, too. And customers trust them a hell of a lot more than they do Alfa Romeo.

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Wait, how do phone dials look if you throw them on a BMW?

Sure, it’s a plug-in hybrid, and those aren’t super common in the compact SUV segment. Beyond that, it’s hard to come up with a reason to buy one. Take the BMW X1 for example. It has more exciting exterior colors, a more exciting interior, and just overall felt like a special vehicle from the moment I got in it.

The grey-over-black Alfa Romeo gave me nothing of the sort. It didn’t feel special in the slightest, and for the price it’s selling for, it ought to. If I’ve just forked over fifty large for a fancy Italian something, I want to be reminded of that every time I get in it. I want my friends to enjoy it when they ride along. Maybe I’m expecting too much, but this is supposed to be an Alfa Romeo, and not one thing on the car reminded me of that. Besides, you know, the badges. There’s a reason people sometimes refer to the Tonale as a “fancy Dodge Hornet” instead of noting – correctly – that the Hornet is actually a less fancy Tonale.

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Other Matters

I found the Tonale’s most appealing offer was the fact it was a plug-in hybrid. The idea of getting around solely on electric power from your own driver is compelling. I enjoyed it when I tried it, and I got about 37 miles out of a full charge. Plus, I had the insurance of gasoline on tap if I wanted to roam further. Really, though, I’d probably have enjoyed the Tonale even more if it was a pure EV. The Dynamic mode and the 1.3-liter engine didn’t inspire me enough to justify their existence.

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The Electric snek motif is repeated a couple of times on the body and in the dash, but the Alfa badges themselves stick with the traditional design.

If you’re keen to use this thing as a plug-in hybrid, you’ll probably want to sort out a home charging solution. For me, this was easy. Australia runs on 240 volts, so I just plugged in the included portable charger and had the car topped off in a few short hours. Americans might need to work a little harder to sort a 220-volt socket or something, or you could just settle for slower 110-volt charging overnight.

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There’s plenty of room in the back, with 23 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats. You can up that to 51 cubic feet if you fold them down. Meanwhile, if you want to tow your jetski or something, the Tonale can handle a 2,000 pound trailer without complaint.

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You can fit a decent-sized amp in the back.

The big problem for Alfa Romeo is the existence of the Dodge Hornet. Stellantis let Dodge rob Alfa of the cheaper ICE-only models, and they put a more boring front-end on it to boot. The Hornet is failing to make any real sales for Dodge, and dealers are slashing prices by over $16,000 just to get old stock off the lot. With the right exhaust, the right colors, and the right price tag, the ICE-only models could have been something special. A cheap Italian SUV with a bit of flair. Instead, they’ve ended up as unexceptional Dodges that won’t move, and Alfa’s stuck with only the pricier hybrid to sell.

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Final Thoughts

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is pretty okay, I guess. Whether you should buy one or not depends on what you want. If you like the way it looks, and you want a plug-in hybrid in an SUV body style, it could serve you well. Get it in green, get the interesting interior options, and enjoy it in that way. If you want to road trip or take in the Tail of the Dragon, the ICE powertrain will happily take you further than the limited battery can, and the Dynamic mode will let you have a little bit of fun.

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If you’re interested in the Tonale as a fancy Italian to spice up your life, I’m not sure I could recommend it. I’ve found much more style and charm in other SUVs than I found here. The Tonale isn’t a bad looker, but aside from Verde Fangio Metallic, the paint colors are pretty tame and the interior is boring. I tried to see the fun in the Tonale, but I couldn’t do it. Save for one of my friends, the rest all wondered why you’d buy one over just about any other competent SUV on the market – particularly given the price.

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It’s a Mopar at heart, baby.

Think back, and you’ll realize the problem. Porsche did the niche SUV thing right when it dropped the Cayenne all those decades ago. The company realized it had to imbue its sporting ethos into the SUV, even if nobody had ever thought of doing that before. The Cayenne proved a hit, combining practicality with the handling and power that made a Porsche special. Alfa Romeo seems to have lost the recipe for its special sauce, and delivered the Tonale without it. The result is a ho-hum sandwich that is sadly quite forgettable.

To make sure I wasn’t going too hard on the Tonale, I checked in with my emotionally intelligent girlfriend. “I wrote it was devoid of any charm,” I explained, and she replied with an oof. Perhaps I had judged too harshly, I thought, and asked if she felt the Tonale had any special charm. “It was fine,” she offered. So I figure I’m about on the money, then.

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I’ll end it on this: I hope Alfa Romeo sells a million Tonales so they can afford to have heart and soul again. It’s a decent car, it’s just lacking any special something to justify it over the mainstream brands. And that’s a shame.

Image credits: Lewin Day, Alfa Romeo where stated

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Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
1 month ago

Perhaps SUV buyers will be satisfied with the looks and the badges, like when they buy a Benetton shirt made in the same factory as an H&M one. They’re SUV buyers, after all.
Is there any compelling reason to buy a Tonale instead of a well-engined Mazda CX-5? At least the Mazda is quite distinctive, and looks great for an SUV.

Scorp Mcgorp
Scorp Mcgorp
1 month ago

given the bazillion Dodge Hornets on dealer lots with huge stacks of cash on the hood, I’d find it really really hard to justify the sheet metal and badge changes being worth the extra cost. if you’re looking for the badge, this sort of car isn’t really one you’d be cross shopping with a didge, sure, but how many of those people really want a compact crossover anyway?

Johnpmac
Johnpmac
1 month ago

Looks like that blue eagle Muppet. Why?

Mr E
Mr E
1 month ago
Reply to  Johnpmac

You are all weirdos!!!

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Yeah just way too expensive. Not special enough to compete with the established luxury bros and not cheap (or reliable) enough to compete with the mainstream brands. Much as I love Alfa seems like another swing and a miss.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago

I don’t understand the appeal at all. Boring, bland type of vehicle that offers an experience no better than more reliable, cheaper boring, bland competitors and with a tiny turbo weedwhacker engine—even with electric assist—moving a fat pig to only achieve mediocre mileage from a company with highly questionable reliability? Who and why? OK, the green they offer is nice, but a wrap on a competitor is also an option.

BoneStock
BoneStock
1 month ago

For this price you could get a used/certified XC60 Polestar. Same EV range, faster, WAY better interior, tech and driving dynamics. Plus it wont depreciate at the rate of a turd ejected from the space station.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  BoneStock

But will it burn up orbiting Uranus?

TheWombatQueen
TheWombatQueen
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

COTD

Michael Kaplan
Michael Kaplan
1 month ago

FWIW, my dad bought one of these here in the US. In November, he hit a cone on the highway that broke a piece of plastic on the grill – only cosmetic damage. It’s now been in the shop since late Nov (6 months). First it was ‘supply chain issues’, now the part is replaced, but apparently the sensors can’t be properly aligned by the dealer. It is awaiting a tech to fly in to do the work. And they can’t/won’t release it due to ‘safety concerns’. Now it’s just a waiting game to see when the lawyer fees will be offset by any recovered lease payments… FFS. The customer service has been hideous.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Kaplan

The more I read, the less I am inclined to ever buy a new vehicle. Flaky electronics, plastic wear components, spyware, sensor failures and calibrations, driving nags, general unrepairability, capacitive buttons and touchscreens, and subscriptions – it’s like Jason’s healthcare.

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Kaplan

How on earth can you screw up with selling SUVs?
I love classic Alfas, but I find it infuriating that they can’t keep their shit together even on the most sellable product ever.

Paul E
Paul E
1 month ago

So, the Tonale was *thiiiis* close from getting a “whatever” in addition to “It’s fine” from your girlfriend.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
1 month ago

I drove one of these for a month as a rental. Agree with the review, it was very much a fine, I guess chunk of car. Didn’t love it, but on the other hand didn’t hate it either, which probably puts it in the top 5% of rental fleets. The wheels are very nice to look at, and there’s a vague sense of Italian-ess something about it. Nothing specific just a subtle feel of something different from your normal grey CUV blob- maybe it’s the lines on the front end that only the Italians would do on their mass-market money makers.

Consequently, for all of it’s easily approachable blandness and every so slightly different feel from all of the other entries in this segment, I think it will probably be a smashing sales success. Remember that soccer moms are always looking to stand out slightly from their social circle, but not too much. The Tonale is the perfect about of safely different.

Neil Lancia
Neil Lancia
1 month ago

I test drove the Tonale… something about the looks just really grabbed me. Call me crazy, but I think this is the best looking CUV of all time, especially in red, green, or blue. I agree with Lewin’s GF too; the car is just fine. The interior felt tiny in every direction, and my head hit the ceiling.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
1 month ago
Reply to  Neil Lancia

The hit to the head might explain your feelings about the exterior. It looks like a squished Stelvio, and not in a good way. Whereas Stelvio is quite a looker.

Neil Lancia
Neil Lancia
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

I was getting my Hyundai serviced and walked over to the Alfa dealership, so my first impression was IRL. I can’t explain why I like they way this car looks so much, but I feel like it almost taps into some sort of sacred geometry. It got me bad! I even went and sat in a Hornet without a sunroof to see if I could fit in the car, and now I get monthly calls from their salesperson. They really are having a hard time moving those off the lot.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago

Lewin, when an Australian does a MPG conversion from proper Metric, what do you use?

Are you using the proper King’s gallon, or the US-only gallon?

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

When Elizabeth II passed, did they recall all the fuel containers in the UK for relabeling? We peasant colonists need to know.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Probably like the post boxes and people take pictures of old ones with markings for short-lived reigns.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

Thanks Lewin, funny that you call it a US outlet w Australian, English, and Canadian on staff to help their colleagues add back the missing vowels into their words.

lastwraith
lastwraith
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

I assure you we don’t miss those vowels over here.
And I imagine Lewin called it a US outlet because it was started in the US and has a physical presence there. Seems pretty straightforward.

JunkInTheFrunk
JunkInTheFrunk
1 month ago

There is a hole in the market where the GTi, Integra, Civic Si, Sentra SE-R, and Neon SRT4 once played for fun cars that could be financed with someone’s first paycheck at their job after college. These cars must look good enough to evoke emotion (from other dudes) and have enough power to be a little naughty (but not felonious).

A beautiful, engaging to drive Alfa starting at $31,995 and available with a 5 year, 100k warranty is the only path forward. It should probably be in the form of a CUV that’s really a hatchback. It needs at least 230HP. Leather, airplay and great looking LED lights will need to be standard.

Alfa has to win young people on fun and excitement and hook them with an attainable price. Us old people know enough about Alfa to stay away from this overpriced garbage, and will only ever drive Alfas as rental cars.

Lincoln Clown CaR
Lincoln Clown CaR
1 month ago
Reply to  JunkInTheFrunk

First of all, kudos to you for naming a bunch of cars I have owned, but I would argue the existing Civic Si still plays in that part of the market, and possibly the Integra depending on how you define that market.

JunkInTheFrunk
JunkInTheFrunk
1 month ago

My unscientific opinion is that young people are mostly not excited by sedans and hatchbacks these days (with the exception of Tesla).

When I go through the campus parking lots of Google, Amazon, Nike and Meta guys in their 20s are driving pickups or “tough” crossovers, and the women are almost exclusively driving luxury crossovers. The fast sedans seem to be loved by guys in their late 30s to early 50s.

Based on this uncompelling non-data, bullshit driven approach, I think the comeback Alfa needs to be a fast looking CUV with looks that beat the Macan, an interior that looks good for filming Tik Toks and handling that makes it fun in the city.

lastwraith
lastwraith
1 month ago
Reply to  JunkInTheFrunk

Is that because people don’t love sedans anymore though or because there are barely any left to purchase?
It’s hard to buy actual cars if mfrs refuse to make anything but crossovers, true SUVs, and pickups because they can pad their bottom line. I mean, I understand the reasoning, but it would be nice to have a wagon or sedan option a little more regularly.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago
Reply to  JunkInTheFrunk

That’s not just a hole in the market that’s a hole in my heart
*pours a quart of 5w-30 out for the Sentra*
**Stops pouring when I realize I need that oil for the consumption from blowby around the failing piston rings**

The Dude
The Dude
1 month ago

That vehicle looks awfully large for having such a cramped looking interior.

Thomas Benham
Thomas Benham
1 month ago
Reply to  The Dude

That’s the thing I don’t get about the CUV craze. Between the 3 foot wide center console and the humongous wheel wells, where do the people go?

The Dude
The Dude
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas Benham

The one I always have to laugh at is the entry level Buick; I want to say it’s the Enclave but I think that’s the larger one.

That thing seems absolutely massive for the tiny proportions inside. My anti-CUV stance was further entrenched when I was stuck with a CUV as a rental while our van was being fixed after an accident.

Now if we’re talking about something like a 4Runner that I can take off-road, that’s a different story. I’m actually getting some benefit from the terrible packaging compared to other vehicles.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

Oof.

I’ll say this, I actually think this and the Hornet look good for CUVs. This is mostly because I think practically all CUVs, especially in this segment, look pretty miserable.

I can understand the premise of selling a crossover to someone who doesn’t want to buy the 30th RAV4 on their block. But the real question is, why choose this over a Mazda. The Mazdas look better, are definitely going to be more reliable, and have optional powertrains that bring a little bit of spice. The PHEV in theory sounds great but it’s hard to believe that it’s going to be reliable.

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
1 month ago

Yep that’s the immediate question when the topic of “nearly luxury” cars comes up: is it better than the equivalent Mazda? In this case? Hell no! Gimme the top trim turbo CX-5 every day of the week!

The Dude
The Dude
1 month ago
Reply to  PresterJohn

The main reason to buy this over a Mazda are:

  1. The badge, since that seems to matter to a lot of folks.
  2. The opportunity to try out a variety of service loaner vehicles.
R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
1 month ago

Just baffled as to how anyone would pick this over a Pacifica PHEV for the same price (Alfa doesn’t qualify for the $7500, but the Chrysler does): 2 more seats, tons more room, same EV range and better MPGe. If you’re not getting something special, it might as well be practical…

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
1 month ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

Same reason all the ICE crossover buyers who would be better served by minivans don’t buy minivans.

Lincoln Clown CaR
Lincoln Clown CaR
1 month ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

I love me a minivan, but they’re not really in the same class size-wise. As long as I wasn’t compromising my needs, I’d rather have the smaller vehicle.

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

Two reasons:

It’s unlikely that anyone looking for something in the HorneTonale’s size class would be cross-shopping a minivan, PHEV though it may be.
If Consumer Reports is anything to go by, the Pacifica PHEV’s reliability prospects are far more dismal than Alfa’s, or for that matter Volkswagen’s or Land Rover’s.

Last edited 1 month ago by AlterId
Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
1 month ago
Reply to  AlterId

“2. France”
There, I fixed it for you.

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  Argentine Utop

Damn. I edited to remove the open <li> tag and saw the other list tags retained in the editable text, but they didn’t carry over when I saved the edit. That happened once before, so I made sure to check before saving. I hate it when I screw up simple formatting.

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
1 month ago
Reply to  AlterId

Oh, hello there, fellow editorial obsessive!

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  Argentine Utop

They could probably afford a decent WYSIWYG (how’s that for a term nobody under 40 ever saw in the wild?) comment editor if they weren’t throwing BMW in Santa Monica money at David, but I don’t make those kind of decisions.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 month ago

While the Alfa styling is dramatically better than the Dodge styling, I still cannot force myself to have an interest in this thing. I’m all for PHEVs, but somehow the more I read about the Tonale the less I care about it. That’s rather unfortunate because I want Alfa to succeed and bring us more interesting cars (unlike the Finale). Given how unreliable the Hornet has been, I don’t think the Tonale will be the thing that saves Alfa’s bacon…

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
1 month ago

I just can’t shake the feeling that the Tonale is going to be *very* Alfa-like in its reliability, or lack thereof. Which, I suppose, is exciting in its own way.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago

You’re looking in the wrong place to find the Alfa specialness.

My little brother, let’s call him Corporal Muppet, has done the Alfa thing for years.

While some of them are madly, lovably brilliant, the majority of the joy, at least for long term users, is when you get in them and they actually work this time.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

It doesn’t blow me away but I think it looks pretty good for a mid-size SUV. And have you seen what $45k buys these days?

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

It does get you a top trim Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus, and you only lost ~30hp/30lb-ft of torque, and gain a heck of a lot of reliability, Or go down 1-2 trims and save 5k and still have a better time.

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

This is all that matters if you want a stylish CUV for that money.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Or a top trim Turbo Signature CX-5, same engine, even closer in size to the Tonale outside, bigger inside, and still save 3k.

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago

Very true! I’m partial to the styling and UX Updates in the CX-50, and think the style of it would be closer to that of the Tonale, but our family recently picked up a mid-trim NA used CX-5 and it’s a really great car, and I completely understand why people love them and prefer them to the 50. We’ve slowly become a Mazda heavy family the past few years, and I really believe every single one of their current products is really compelling in their classes (and I can say that now since the MX-30 is no longer on sale in the US)

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Maybe it’s the adventure-y image they’re trying to go after with the CX-50 that makes the CX-5 seem more like a 1:1 comparison to me, or maybe it is the sizing, but all the same, it’s two options at the Tonale’s price.

Mazdas haven’t necessarily blown me away for my own personal use whenever I’ve tried one, but always something I’d recommend. The Carbon Turbo -30 has stuck in my mind recently as something I’d seriously consider if I went in that sort of direction though. I have been reading lately about people comparing the -30 vs. the -5, and the -5 vs. the -50, and have found a lot of varying opinions on what people prefer despite their similarities on paper. I sometimes question some of Mazda’s strategies because I’m not sure they’re even sure what they’re trying to do, but with those it’s no bad thing to have options.

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago

I’ve got a ’22 Turbo, basically what is now the carbon in terms of options, and I absolutely love it. I intentionally went crossover instead of hatch for the outdoors stuff I get into and with the roads being crappy around me, lots of steep ingress/egresses around. The biggest gripe people I think rightly have with the 50 over the 5 is the 50 has a torsion beam rear and a less advanced chassis, while the 5 has full IRS.

That said, while the 5 probably drives a bit nicer, the 50 imo has a better interior thats more modern with better tech and ergonomics, while the 5 just feels more dated inside because its around 8 years old versus 2. Definitely can’t go wrong either way, and Mazda definitely operates really differently, and I think its because they’re so much smaller than most automakers, certainly all the mainstream ones. I’ve just been impressed with the attention to detail and more premium interiors for the same money than Toyota/Honda/Nissan and the like. The click wheel takes some getting used to but once you get accustomed, I’ve found it way simpler and less distracting to use than most touch screen systems.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Yeah, the older interior of the 5 would take it out of the running for me as well, and honestly just the ubiquity of the model, lol – they’re understandably popular, although CX-30s have become quite common around me too. I get the complaints about IRS but it’s also not an automatic guarantee at driving prowess and the ride/handling is still generally likely to be better vs. some other models.

For the 30 I also realized recently seeing it parked alongside other vehicles that despite being a crossover, it really is still more of a tall car than some, an inch or two shorter than the Crosstrek even. A hybrid option or a couple more creature comforts on the 30 would probably nudge it along further (basically some of the 5 Carbon turbo features, on the 30). Perhaps those will come at the facelift, but fortunately (knock wood) I have no need for a new vehicle for a bit.

lastwraith
lastwraith
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Is it only me, or is it a little bit exciting to hear that a car has a “dated interior” with likely worse tech? Give me that as a preference.

Modern vehicles are an absolute chore with the amount of unnecessary electronic BS they include.

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago
Reply to  lastwraith

While in some way I completely understand where you’re coming from, in the case of Mazda’s current versus prior generation tech, the updated stuff is genuinely just better across the board. It’s really pretty much the same technology, just implemented in a snappier, more responsive, and less frustrating way than the prior generation.

They really haven’t added much because Mazda is so much smaller and lower budget that most Automakers, so they seem to have focused on making everything more usable and upscale for the price, which I appreciate. Just jumping between my CX-30 with current tech and an ND2 Miata, the feels so much more responsive and is glitch free which just has frustrating tech, albeit an exceptional driving experience, so it gets a pass. The same has generally held true for the CX-9 and CX-5s I’ve spent time in as well.

Outofstep
Outofstep
1 month ago

Stellantis let Dodge rob Alfa of the cheaper ICE-only models, and they put a more boring front-end on it to boot.

I personally prefer the Hornet front end. Something about the Tonale front end bothers me. I don’t know what it is but it just doesn’t look right to me, especially in put me to sleep grey.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago

As a yank, I find it interesting how American’s perceptions of European marques seem to be changing as those marques penetrate our market more.

Even though the ’90s, we really got only the best here – top-end Mercedeses and BMWs, the sportiest Italian cars, etc. With pricetags to match, but in many of our minds, those cars personified a brand as a whole. For probably a majority of Americans, “Alfa Romeo” means only a lithe little convertible with a wooden steering wheel, probably in red.

Now, like with the Tonale, it seems we’re getting a much more varied experience that’s more in line with what the rest of the world gets…

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Yeah, you guys over there seem to think our common muck like 3-series, VWs (and their badge-engineered Skodas/Seats/Cupras/Audis) and Alfas are way more special than we do over here.

At least we all seem to agree that British cars are terrible.

bomberoKevino
bomberoKevino
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

I distinctly remember my first trip to Europe (many years ago), taking a taxi from the airport in Germany and feeling amazed that my cheapskate college tuition paying parents had shelled out for a ride in a C series Benz. Then looking at the other taxis and realizing they were ALL Benzes and BMWs. Then looking at the doors and realizing they had roll-up windows just like our Toyota. Then it dawned on me that what I thought was the paragon of fancy was Europe’s Crown Vic. My parents were the people I thought they were, but the cars weren’t.

bomberoKevino
bomberoKevino
1 month ago
Reply to  bomberoKevino

Lest I offend any Autopians, I should clarify that I’m not meaning to suggest a Crown Vic isn’t the paragon of fancy.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  bomberoKevino

There was a Crown Vic at the last car meet I went to in the UK. It was on show, and it had a crowd around it.

TheWombatQueen
TheWombatQueen
1 month ago
Reply to  bomberoKevino

Town car

Lardo
Lardo
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Despite what the author states I don’t know anyone in America who thinks Alfa is “exotic manufacturer”, loved my 1974 Spider.But far from exotic.

lastwraith
lastwraith
1 month ago
Reply to  Lardo

I would disagree, at least where I live. Alfa is considered an upscale, sporty, and somewhat uncommon choice. I don’t think “exotic” is an unreasonable adjective, although there have been more Alfas around in the last 5 years or so, especially amongst those who lease.

Last edited 1 month ago by lastwraith
V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

It’s a decent car, it’s just lacking any special something to justify it over the mainstream brands.

I remember feeling this exactly when I rented an Alfa Mito for a 10 day trip in Europe.

As an aside, seeing a Subaru Outback Down Under makes me wonder if Aussies laugh at that name like I do with the Malibu, Monte Carlo, etc.

Craig Simpson
Craig Simpson
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

Not really, it’s just a name, and we’d be laughing all the time, because there’s a lot around, but Subaru did do a great job of avoiding an enormous faux pas with the Legacy.

Legacy is a really old Australian charity who exist to support armed service veterans and their families, so the concept of a Japanese car mnf naming a car Legacy in this market would have been a disaster. Fortunately they listened to someone wise and it is named the Liberty in Australia.

Far more cringey in Australia is that we do have the Outback Steakhouse, filled with cultural kitsch that makes my skin crawl. Mind you, for several years its main competitor was Lone Star, which is equally as bad, but allegedly Texan.

I was recently on holidays in Cairns, up north, and it’s something of an international tourist trap, and a number of the restaurants sported names like “Dundee” or “Bushfire”. I gave those places a wide berth.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

Tonale? More like Tondefale!

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
1 month ago

Being perpetually 14, I’ll never not call this thing the Toenail. I just can’t.

It’s good looking, though!

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

I’ll end it on this: I hope Alfa Romeo sells a million Tonales”

I predict they won’t.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 month ago

But, there’s also the Dodge version, so if you add those sales to the Alfa Romeo sales, you’ll only be like 990,000 away from a million, so it’s in striking distance

Der Foo
Der Foo
1 month ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

So you mean there’s a chance? YeeeAAHHH!

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