2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Jul 21, 2020

Introduction - Find the best Alfa Romeo deals!

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia front view

Photo: Ron Sessions

Now in its fourth year since returning to the U.S. market, the 2020 Giulia sedan is available in three basic trims. Including the $1,295 destination charge, the lineup includes the $40,695 base Giulia, better-equipped $42,695 Giulia Ti and high-performance $75,795 Giulia Quadrifoglio. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 upcharge on the rear-drive Giulia and Giulia Ti. The range-topping Giulia Quadrifoglio is available only with rear-wheel drive.

Updates for 2020 include a revised interior with improved center console storage and functionality, an expanded roster of available safety and driver-assistive systems, and an improved 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface now standard with all trims.

J.D. Power categorizes the Alfa Romeo Giulia as a compact premium car. It’s a segment Alfa Romeo practically invented in the 1950s and 1960s that now teems with competitors such as the Acura TLX, Audi A4 and A5, BMW 3 and 4 Series, Cadillac ATS, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50 and Q60, Jaguar XE, Kia Stinger, Lexus ES, IS and RC, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Volvo S60.

For this review, J.D. Power evaluated a 2020 Giulia Ti AWD equipped with a wireless charger, dual-pane sunroof, 14-speaker premium stereo, heated rear seat, a Sport package that includes 19-inch wheels, red brake calipers, more aggressive-looking front and rear fascias, sport front seats with adjustable bolsters, paddle shifters, aluminum pedal trim, a black headliner and sport leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a Ti Leather package with a leather wrapped dash and door uppers, a Nero Edizione package with dark monochromatic exterior trim and an active Driver Assist package with adaptive cruise control, active blind-spot assist, highway and traffic jam assist, lane keeping, traffic sign recognition, automatic high-beam control, driver attention monitor and navigation. Including destination, the total came to $56,240.

What Owners Say - Find the best Alfa Romeo deals!

Before diving into the details of our 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia evaluation, it’s useful to explore who the buyer is for this compact premium sedan and what features they viewed favorably or unfavorably in the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

As with most other performance-oriented compact premium sedans, the Giulia has a high percentage of male buyers (79%) vs just 65% male for the segment as a whole. When asked to self-describe, 69% of Giulia owners consider themselves performance buyers compared to just 44% in the segment. With a median age of 54 years, Giulia buyers are slightly younger than the 57-year-old segment average, but more affluent with a $194,643 median annual household income (vs an average $150,146 for all compact premium buyers).

Showing their flashy side, nearly all Giulia owners (99%) responded that they like a car with responsive handling and powerful acceleration (vs 95% for the segment as a whole) and 98% of them said they prefer a vehicle that stands out from the crowd (vs 86% in the segment). Along those same lines, only 69% of Giulia respondents said vehicle reliability was their first consideration (vs 93% of all compact premium buyers) and just 14% of Giulia buyers indicated they would avoid vehicles they thought had high maintenance costs (vs 29% in the segment as a whole).

Giulia owners responded that their favorite aspects of the car are its styling, acceleration, handling and transmission smoothness, while their least favorites were the car’s trunk space and storage, rear seat room, ventilation fan noise, cup holder space and rearward visibility.

What Our Expert Says - Find the best Alfa Romeo deals!

In the sections that follow, our expert provides his own perceptions about how the Alfa Romeo Giulia measures up in each of the 10 categories that make up the 2019 J.D. Power APEAL Study.

Exterior

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia exterior front view

Photo: Ron Sessions

Sporting a modernized version of the same classic V-Scudetto grille that’s graced a wide range of Alfas over more than 70 years, the 2020 Giulia 4-door sedan channels the swoopy curves of the beloved Giulia Sprint GT and GTV coupes of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Sizewise, today’s Giulia is within millimeters of the class-benchmark BMW 3 series, slightly shorter overall than the Bavarian while a bit broader door handle to door handle with a wider rear track. All models get LED front running lamps and tail lamps. Adaptive, auto-leveling bi-xenon headlamps are standard on the Quadrifoglio and optional on the Ti.

The Giulia hails from Cassino, Italy and is built in Italy on FiatChrysler’s Giorgio platform, its newest. The unitized high-strength steel body employs weight-saving aluminum for underbody subframes, the suspension, fenders, hood, doors and roof. The Quadrifoglio substitutes carbon fiber for aluminum in the hood and roof and all Giulia models feature a lightweight carbon-fiber driveshaft.

Interior

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia dashboard interior view

Photo: Ron Sessions

You don’t so much climb in to the cockpit of the Alfa Romeo Giulia as you slip it on. The compact premium sedan emphasizes driver/machine engagement, starting with the Formula One-inspired engine start button on the flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel.

As you might expect in a car hailing from the boot of Italy, there is a lot of leather involved with a preponderance of available leather-wrapped and soft-touch surfaces for the dash, doors and console. There are a total of 10 available interior color combinations, enhanced with a choice of piano-black, aluminum or carbon-fiber trim and light- or dark-hue woods depending on trim.

The driver-oriented control interface features a prominent analog tachometer and 160-mph (in Giulia and Giulia Ti or 200-mph (in Quadrifoglio) speedometer astride a 7-inch full-color driver-configurable information display that includes a trip computer, tire-pressure monitor, compass, ambient temperature and service messages. The flat-bottom three-spoke steering wheel with manual tilt and telescope adjustments features handy thumb grips. More than a dozen ambient LED lamps cheer the Giulia’s front foot wells, cup holders, door pulls and map pockets.

For 2020, the Giulia adds thicker acoustic glass for the windshield and front door windows to tamp down unwanted road noise. Also new for 2020 is a revised console with upgraded materials and switchgear to better compete with the BMW 3 series.

Seats

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia front seats

Photo: Ron Sessions

As comfortable and supportive as they are good looking, all Giulia trims feature standard leather-covered seats. The front buckets are power-adjustable for fore-aft, seat height, seatback tilt and lumbar settings and the driver’s chair has memory settings. With Ti or Quadrifoglio trim, the front seats are heated. Quadrifoglio adds Alcantera suede seat trim as well as optional Sparco front racing seats with limited power adjustments for serious players. 

Sport buckets optional in the Ti and standard in Quadrifoglio bring adjustable manual thigh supports and power lower-torso lateral bolstering to hug you in place without employing hard metal wires to cause discomfort.

Climate Control System

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia climate control system

Photo: Ron Sessions

Nestled below the infotainment screen, the Giulia’s standard dual-zone automatic climate control system is easy to operate, requiring minimal eyes-off-the-road time to access different functions. A pair of simple rotary knobs handles individual temperature settings for driver and front passenger and a third knob sets a mutually agreed fan speed. Four large buttons direct cabin airflow without the need to fuss with menus. Below that a trio of slightly smaller but not obscure buttons summon heat for the steering wheel and front seat cushions.

Infotainment System

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia infotainment system

Photo: Ron Sessions

The Giulia’s recessed, upper-dash infotainment display screen is upgraded for 2020 with more functions and quicker processing speed. The tiny 6.5-inch screen in last year’s base model is dropped and all Giulia trims now get a wider, standard 8.8-inch touchscreen with voice recognition. The screen can open up to three different windows, say, for audio, driver-assistive systems and, if equipped, with optional 3D-capable navigation. The standard backup camera image is displayed in the screen and the screen is your portal into a deep well of scrollable vehicle information in the performance pages. Virtual buttons for station presets, home, back and other shortcuts line the left and bottom areas of the screen. The 2020 Giulia retains the console-mounted audio volume knob and BMW iDrive-like remote infotainment controller as well.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto cellphone mirroring are standard enabling you to bring your phone’s familiar home screen icons and functionality along for the ride. Three USB ports plus an auxiliary jack and standard Bluetooth help with audio streaming and cellphone connectivity. Wi-Fi hotspot capability is available and there’s a new console-mounted wireless phone charger this year as well.

For music, you could just listen to the soundtrack under the hood or the brassy exhausts, but the standard 8-speaker AM/FM stereo with one free year of SiriusXM Satellite radio lights up the Giulia’s cozy cabin nicely enough. Giulias optioned with navigation also get HD Radio in the deal. The top-dog sound system, standard in the rorty Quadrifoglio and optional in the Ti is a 900-watt, 14-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound premium audio system with its own story to tell.

Storage and Space

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia trunk space

Photo: Ron Sessions

As with other rear-drive compact premium sedans in the segment such as the BMW 3 Series and Genesis G70, the Giulia is really a four-seater with the rear center position of the Guilia’s 40/20/40 split bench seat suitable only for wee folk. A pair of full-grown adults can sit on the outboard perches for short hops as long as the front seat occupants slide their seats forward a bit. Skived-out recesses in the backs of the front seats add some precious knee room and deep butt and torso pockets help keep back seat riders planted on twisty roads. The low rear seating position helps regain some of the headroom lost to the swoopy, sloping, coupe-like roofline.

The rear seatbacks split 40/20/40 and fold down for longer objects such as skis or a big-screen TV. Optional is heat for the outboard positions of the rear seat.

Up front, the slim glovebox can handle a few small personal items and there’s another, smaller flocked box by the driver’s left knee that’s perfect for a few coins, parking and toll stubs and your favorite stash of tic tacs. In the 2020 model’s revised center console, larger cup holders can now handle larger, American-sized beverages and there’s a handy open bin forward of them for car trip detritus. 

Alfa Romeo doesn’t publish trunk capacity figures for the Giulia sedan but the luggage compartment will accept four or five aircraft overhead-bin roller bags. Flip down the standard folding rear seatbacks and available cargo space more than doubles. If you feel like more cargo capacity is required here for an active lifestyle, Alfa Romeo humbly offers its Stelvio crossover SUV.

Visibility and Safety

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia safety and visibility

Photo: Ron Sessions

In addition to standard content on all trims including eight airbags, a backup camera, sonar rear park assist and new for 2020, standard automatic emergency braking, the Giulia adds a substantial number of optional safety and semi-autonomous driver-assistive systems this year. The available adaptive cruise control system adds semi-autonomous traffic jam assist and highway assist driving modes. Also now offered are active blind-spot assist and rear cross-path detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, a drowsy driver alert, automatic high beam control and sonar front park assist. The lion’s share of the added safety and driver-assistive content this year is sprinkled in a number of extra-cost packages, so pick your options wisely for the best possible safety coverage.

With the added functionality of the Giulia’s new 8.8-inch infotainment screen, drivers can easily scroll through the available systems installed to make sure the ones they want operational are switched on.

The 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia received Good scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for small- and moderate-offset front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seats, but the base Giulia without the active headlamps netted a Poor rating for lighting performance.

Engine/Transmission

As it has for the last three model years, the 2020 Giulia sedan offers an all-turbo engine lineup. In the base Giulia and Giulia Ti is a spunky 2.0-liter producing 280 horsepower and 308 lb-ft of torque. Working with a ZF 8-speed step-shift automatic transmission, it can propel the sedan to 60 mph in just over 5 seconds. More importantly, the 4-cylinder’s twin-scroll turbo’s midrange pull is satisfyingly generous over a wide engine speed range, making for easy freeway merging and relaxed overtaking on two-lane back roads. A Sport package adds steering-column-mounted paddle shifters and a Performance package adds availability of a limited-slip rear differential for Ti models.

The 4-cylinder sedan can be configured with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. The latter opens up Alfa ownership to North Country patrons who occasionally have to deal with icy, snowy roads. Dubbed Q4, the AWD system is RWD-biased and can send as much as 60 percent of drive torque to the front wheels as necessary. 

The range-topping Giulia Quadrifoglio doubles down on turbochargers with a standard Ferrari-derived 2.9-liter biturbo V6. Previous opportunities with this smile-inducing 505-hp/443 lb-ft near-exotic powerplant verify that the Quadrifoglio sedan can storm from rest to 60 mph mark in well under 4 seconds while making some of the brassiest sounds in the premium compact sedan segment. The Quadrifoglio is only available with rear-wheel drive featuring a standard torque-vectoring rear differential. The biturbo V6 is also teamed with the seamlessly smooth and quick-shifting ZF 8-speed automatic, also with paddle shifters for manual control.

Fuel Economy

Accepting that fuel economy may not be always top of mind when driving the Giulia sedan, I observed 26.5 mpg behind the wheel of a 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti during an evaluation involving mostly residential jaunts interspersed with a few blasts down 2-lane highways over a period of a week. EPA estimates for the 2.0-liter turbo are 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway/27 mpg combined for rear drivers and 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined for AWD models.

With a knack for turning fossil fuel into unvarnished fun the Quadrifoglio’s 2.9-liter biturbo V6 unapologetically grabs an EPA fuel-economy rating of 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway/20 mpg combined.

Driving Dynamics

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia dna knob volume screen controller

Photo: Ron Sessions

The Giulia’s sporty driving character begins with a near perfect 50/50 front/rear weight balance and very communicative and direct electrically boosted rack and pinion steering. The sedan is stable and settled at highway speeds, yet has a quick and precise response when it comes time to change headings. Body motions are well controlled with the base high-pressure gas shocks and even better with the active dampers available with the Ti and standard in the Quadrifoglio. Skins ranging from run-flat 225/50R17 and 225/45R18 all-season rubber up to Pirelli PZero 245/35ZR19 front/285/30ZR19 three-season performance tires provide excellent grip. A torque-vectoring differential in the Quadrifoglio helps the sedan minimize understeer by overdriving an outside rear wheel.

Adding confidence when it’s most needed are standard Brembo 4-wheel disc brakes. These can be had with painted calipers done in silver, black, red or yellow. Quadrifoglio ups the ante with larger standard calipers and drilled and vented rotors, or optional extra-large carbon-ceramic ultra high-performance binders. Outstanding pedal response is facilitated by a brake-by-wire system that eliminates the vacuum booster.

Drivers can select from drive modes via a console-mounted DNA drive mode rotary switch. Available choices are Dynamic (sport), Natural (touring) and Advanced Efficiency (Eco). Natural mode gives everyday baseline throttle progression and transmission shift timing, light steering effort and when equipped with the available active damping system, a surprisingly compliant ride quality. Dynamic mode sharpens throttle response, raises steering effort, gives later upshifts and earlier downshifts, and on Ti and Quadrifoglio models with active damping firms up body motions. Advanced Efficiency mode makes throttle response more gradual and in the Quadrifoglio saves fuel by deactivating three cylinders when cruising or coasting. Quadrifoglio models add a Race mode which deactivates stability control (do this only when safe), allows short periods of turbo overboost, and opens up the exhaust’s baffles for a more talkative sound.

The ZF 8-speed automatic executes very quick dual-clutch-like 100-millisecond shifts with rev-matching throttle blips in the Dynamic or Race modes. The 4-cylinder Giulia’s dual-exhaust note says “sporty” but isn’t intrusive. The Quadrifoglio V6’s four outlet pipes are part of a dual-mode system with a bypass around the mufflers for lusty racecar-like throttle bursts, yet purr just under the radar during normal driving.

Final Impressions - Find the best Alfa Romeo deals!

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia front view

Photo: Ron Sessions

The 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a sharp-handling sport sedan that says Italian with all the right phrases. The 4-cylinder turbo-powered base Giulia or more nicely equipped Giulia Ti have the right mix of performance, handling and luxury to make great everyday cars. And the incredibly exciting, near-exotic 505-hp Giulia Quadrifoglio brings scintillating capability that won’t be denied. Now with updated infotainment and a comprehensive menu of available safety and driver-assistive technology, the attractively styled Alfa Romeo Giulia offers an enticing alternative to German and Japanese entry luxury sedans.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2021 J.D. Power

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