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Sunday Drive: A week of enchantment with the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | Aug 19, 2023
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Deanne stands with the all-new Alfa Romeo Tonale on a Sunday drive we took up Mapleton Canyon to the trailhead for the long hike to the top of Maple Mountain.
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Deanne with the all-new 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale high in the Colorado Mountains during our first drive with the SUV at the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience.
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2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale rear three quarter (European spec shown).
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2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale interior (European spec shown).
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2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in cord to car (European spec shown).
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2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale rear hatch cargo space (European spec shown).

The allure of piloting a fresh, untrodden machine on the roads is a pleasure unmatched. This thrill is amplified when the vehicle is a trailblazing gem yet to grace the Utah dealership. Our experience with the groundbreaking Alfa Romeo Tonale was an embodiment of such delight, as we had the exclusive privilege of hosting the sole model in the state for a full week of immersive everyday driving.

Our inaugural encounter with the Tonale transpired in mid-June at the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press event, the illustrious Rocky Mountain Driving Experience. Among the sponsors was Alfa Romeo, seizing the occasion to unveil its SUV to the regional press. Our initial encounter involved a brisk 30-mile mountain jaunt in the Tonale, a stint that left us spellbound and craving a more profound rendezvous from the driver's seat.

A mere four weeks later, the Tonale graced our driveway, resplendent in its Verde Fangio Metallic (green) exterior coat. Intriguingly, these vehicles hail from Alfa Romeo's Italian hub, making their way to the American market via overseas transit.

Historically, the manufacturer's stable hosted two models. However, the Tonale's entrance inaugurated a trinity of choices: two SUVs and the Giulia sedan. The Tonale distinguishes itself as a plug-in hybrid marvel, seamlessly marrying an all-electric propulsion system with a 1.3-liter turbocharged gas engine. Although Alfa Romeo's repertoire will eventually encompass five core models, the Giulia and Stelvio will adopt all-electric variants by model year 2025, while the Tonale preserves its plug-in hybrid configuration.

A captivating facet that monopolized our attention throughout our Tonale experience was the potential of its projected 33-mile electric range. Would this be sufficient for our daily commutes? Or would our fuel consumption parallel that of a conventionally powered SUV?

Our fondness for plug-in hybrids lies in their ability to conquer distances without succumbing to the range anxiety inherent to their all-electric counterparts. After grappling with the intricacies of meticulously choreographed charging sessions during electric excursions, the Tonale's versatility was a breath of fresh air. Extreme temperatures often wreak havoc on electric ranges, an aspect effortlessly bypassed by the Tonale's range-extending gasoline engine.

Confident in the knowledge that extending our journeys wouldn't pose challenges, we embarked on our Tonale week, consistently juicing up each night with our level 2 charger, which conveniently replenished the battery in a little over two hours. Even brief pit stops at home yielded incremental battery boosts, further reinforcing our belief in the electric hybrid's practicality.

With 33 electric miles at our disposal, we frequently embraced this emission-free mode, including employing the air conditioning during sweltering July days. Two separate trips punctuated our week: a visit to the Alfa Romeo dealership in downtown Salt Lake City and a lunch run by Craig and his co-workers to the Standard-Examiner in Ogden. Cumulatively, these escapades depleted the gas tank after covering around 275 miles solely on the gasoline engine. Collectively, our Tonale tallied an impressive average of approximately 39 miles per gallon. In a typical week, relying predominantly on electric power would have sufficed for our normal daily requirements after charging each night at home.

In terms of cost-effectiveness, propelling the Tonale over a 33-mile electric stretch would entail an approximate expenditure of $1.55 in electricity, equating to around 5 cents per mile. Contrasting this with a conventional SUV achieving 33 miles per gallon at a gas price of $3.50 per gallon, the hybrid's advantage becomes apparent at 10.6 cents per mile. This translates to substantial long-term savings for the daily driver.

The Tonale adeptly merges the capabilities of an all-wheel drive system, featuring electric motors governing the rear wheels and a gasoline engine driving the front. Such a configuration renders the Tonale an exceptional winter companion, capable of conquering Utah's harshest weather. The amalgamation of these power sources endows the Tonale with a commanding 285 horsepower, catapulting the petite SUV to 60 mph in a swift six seconds. Leasing enthusiasts can still capitalize on the government's enticing $7,500 rebate when acquiring a Tonale.

Within the Tonale's cabin, opulence harmonizes with innovation. The all-digital cockpit dazzles, anchored by a 12.3-inch driver's display and a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen. The inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay and a wireless charging station embodies modern connectivity. Front leather-clad seats, standard in their heated grandeur, anticipate chilly days. The optional Customer Preferred Package ($2,500) grants cooling to the seats, a driver's seat memory feature and an enhanced Harmon Kardon sound system.

In the realm of safety, the Veloce trim amplifies peace of mind with a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, driver attention alert, front and rear park sensors, and rain sensing wipers -- features that we cherish, especially the adaptive cruise control.

Our encounter with the new Alfa Romeo Tonale was a week of revelations. Its potential as a worthy garage addition crystallized as we reveled in the symphony of power and electricity concealed within its design. A spontaneous road trip? No problem. The Tonale's capabilities are as versatile as they are compelling.

Base price: $47,495

Destination charge: $1,595

Price as driven: $58,990

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