By Don Armstrong
More and more of us are going for luxury SUV’s, and Bay dwellers are no exception. This month’s pair may surprise with their comparable pricing, yet different origins.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
If you want to drive something that stands out in a crowded field of SUV’s, we’ve found something you must try.
Like most crossover SUV’s, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is built on its sister Guila’s platform, a sport sedan that handles like a purpose-built racer. It was an instant love affair.
Most notable is the Alfa brand scudetto, or “little shield,” trademark grille. There is no mistaking the Stelvio with any other vehicle. Its high-mounted headlights and large, lower air intake make this crossover unique.
The interior is simply beautiful, and our Ti version has red leather that “pops” like few others. To fully understand the nuances of the infotainment system, you’ll need to keep the owner’s manual nearby. Front seating is comfortable and supportive with rib-hugging side bolsters and adjustable thigh support. The Stelvio begs you to take corners quicker than you have in the past.
Powering this hot Italian is a 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 280-horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed automatic transmission. You’ll want to use the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters frequently.
Starts at $41,400.
Buick Enclave Avenir
If you’re looking for more room with near-luxury look and feel then the Buick Enclave Avenir should be on your shopping list.
Much larger than Stelvio, the Enclave is a three-row affair, comparable to a Suburban, but without the heft of a body-on-frame SUV.
Buick has worked its design magic on the upscale Avenir with an elegant, stylized grille, touting the tri-shield emblem against a black background. A touch of chrome adds just the right amount of elegance without overdoing it. Small fender vents harken back to Buicks past. A nice touch.
The interior is where the Enclave Avenir shines. The quietness of the cabin is noticeable. The upscale leather gives you a sense of much pricier brands.
Handling is superb and the ride quality is without fault. Despite its size, this Buick maneuvers store parking lots with ease.
Under the hood is a 3.6-liter V-6, delivering 310 horsepower. It’s smooth, fuel efficient and a long-time mainstay in GM’s arsenal of bullet-proof powerplants.
Taking the top spot in the Buick Enclave lineup, the Avenir starts at $54,000.