Up Close With the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale

 Alfa Romeo’s new 2023 Tonale SUV didn’t have the flashiest entrance at the 2022 New York International Auto Show, but it was one of the most impressive all-new vehicles on the show floor. The Italian brand’s second SUV is smaller than the Stelvio but shares much of its appearance inside and out. Most impressive is that despite the Tonale’s obvious small size, the interior is roomy for my 6-foot-1 frame — including in the backseat.

I also was really impressed by the abundance of physical controls for climate and audio functions. Alfa aficionados will be pleased to learn that the Tonale has the brand’s signature comically large shift paddles.

Materials quality inside isn’t disappointing, but it dips slightly in the backseat and isn’t as nice overall as some other members of a class that includes the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLB; take that with a grain of salt, however, as the interiors of vehicles at auto shows are not always up to production quality. Most disappointing to me was that the Italian flag located on the center console behind the gear selector was purely decorative and not a functional button to activate an Alfa Romeo drive mode like BMW’s M Drive buttons.

On the outside, the Tonale is handsome, especially in the green color applied to this example. I do wonder if Alfa designers know or care about the existence of locales that require front-mounted license plates, however, given that those will once again require awkward placement because of the Tonale’s signature Alfa Romeo front styling.

The biggest question mark for the Tonale is one that can’t be answered here: How will Alfa Romeo’s first electrified production vehicle fare? In the U.S., the Tonale will be sold with either a 256-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine or a 272-hp, plug-in hybrid powertrain, both with standard all-wheel drive. Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to driving both.

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