Named after one of Italy’s highest mountain passes, the Tonale is the first compact utility, plug-in hybrid vehicle of Alfa Romeo.
In December, I had the chance to get behind the wheel of the Tonale for about a week. First introduced in early 2023 and made available later in the year, the Tonale is built at the Giambattista Vico Stellantis plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, Naples, Italy with a starting price of $42,995 USD.
The vehicle delivered was a beautiful emerald green color (Verde Fangio), which is a deep, vibrant shade that looks absolutely stunning in person. It was definitely perfect since it was early December and in theme for the holiday season. The interior of the vehicle is reminiscent of the Alfa Romeo racer brand, with its black, perforated leather seating and sleek, stylish design. The high-end look and feel didn’t stop at the seating, either. The Tonale’s interior is also equipped with a number of premium features, such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and a Harman Kardon audio system.
I was worried that my mother would have some difficulty getting in and out of the Tonale, but she didn’t seem to struggle at all. This was a major plus, as I know that she can be very vocal when she has difficulty getting into any vehicle. The Tonale’s high seating position and wide doors made it easy for her to get in and out.
The large power moonroof is another one of the Tonale’s many highlights. It seemingly takes over the entire ceiling of the vehicle, giving passengers a feeling of openness and freedom. This is especially nice on a clear night, when you can enjoy the stars and the moon.
Now anybody that knows me knows that I’m no stranger to speed. And while I am not admitting that I go above the speed limit, I will say that sometimes my foot makes this annoying jerking motion that sometimes pushes the pedal to the metal, so to speak. With the Tonale being in the Alfa Romeo “bloodline”, my foot seemed to be really agitated and it was out of my control to see what kind of power was really under the hood. Did I mention that my finger also slipped and put the vehicle in sports mode? I digress. The Tonale is powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with an electric motor on the rear axle. This combination produces a total output of 285 horsepower, which is more than enough to get the Tonale moving quickly. In fact, it takes just 5.5 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph.
However, there is a bit of lag when accelerating in comfort mode. This is not to say that the Tonale is slow in comfort mode, but it is definitely more noticeable than in sports mode. In sports mode, the Tonale feels much more responsive, thanks in part to the tighter power steering and the large red paddle shifters.
Of course, the highlight of the Tonale is that it is the brand’s first hybrid. This means that it can run on electricity for short distances, which can save you money on gas. In fact, the Tonale can get up to 33 miles of range in full electric mode. This makes it ideal for those who do not do a lot of driving or who live in urban areas where there are plenty of charging stations available.
The 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system was initially overwhelming. I found myself spending more time trying to figure out how to use it than actually enjoying the features. While I don’t believe busy infotainment centers are new to any brand, I still want to highlight that it may take some time to learn how everything is connected.
The vehicle has the standard Stellantis Uconnect system, but the Alfa Romeo Tonale has its own voice recognition system. When you say “Hey Alfa,” a gentleman’s voice responds and asks how they can assist you. However, the man’s voice sounds like Jarvis from the Marvel films, and I felt a little fancy every time I summoned him. It felt like an espresso should slowly emerge from the armrest. Signore Alfa obeyed my every command, from changing the radio station to finding a new destination in the navigation system.
Overall, the infotainment system in the Alfa Romeo Tonale is a mixed bag. It has some great features, like the voice recognition system, but it can also be overwhelming to use. I would recommend taking some time to familiarize yourself with the system before you take the Tonale on a long road trip.
Something else that really stood out to me were the abundance of alarms, bells, whistles, and various noises that the Tonale made. I believe there was a sound for everything imaginable. I’m not new to warning sounds in a vehicle, but it’s frustrating while you are driving and a “random” bell goes off. I was left screaming, “what’s that mean?!” on numerous occasions. So, your first homework assignment after purchasing the Tonale is to learn what those sounds mean, and then also how to turn down the volume or mute some of them. It got to the point that I could hear my 7 year old mumble shut up under her breath when the Tonale would start dinging, out of pure frustration. I really feel that once you get that under control you’ll feel much better.
Overall, I’d give the Tonale an 8/10 on the CBELLE rating scale, which is totally something I just made up and has no actual meaning…yet. And those 2 missing points are probably based on my PTSD from the various alarms in the Tonale. It’s a stylish, well-appointed vehicle that’s perfect for anyone who wants a luxurious and sporty driving experience. While I feel it’s a bit on the lower end of total miles per charge for a hybrid SUV, it’s still a good way to save money if you don’t do a lot of driving. And, as a hybrid, it is also good for the environment. I look forward to seeing the evolution of the Alfa Romeo Tonale.