Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is banking on the new Stelvio SUV to provide a big spark to the low-volume brand's U.S. sales, which have slumped 23 percent this year to 441 vehicles, most of which are the 4C Coupe and 4C Spider.
Alfa Romeo returned to the U.S. in late 2014 after a nearly two-decade absence and is betting on the Stelvio to help draw a new generation of buyers as well as fans of rival German brands.
"American drivers are still getting to know the Alfa Romeo brand, and the introduction of the Stelvio is the best way to gain exposure to consumers in the bustling premium utility segment," said Eric Lyman, chief analyst for TrueCar.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio -- the first crossover from the resurrected brand and key to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' hopes of restoring Alfa Romeo to global relevance -- features a trim lineup that puts German competitors squarely in its sights. The crossover was unveiled last week at the Los Angeles auto show.
The Stelvio, named after a harrowing mountain pass in the Italian Alps, is built on FCA's new Giorgio platform, which also underpins Alfa's Giulia compact sport sedan.
It will be built at FCA's plant in Cassino, Italy, and is expected to begin appearing in showrooms in 2017.
Alfa is the latest luxury marque -- after Porsche, Jaguar, Bentley, Maserati and Lamborghini -- to expand beyond a traditional car lineup and market increasingly popular SUVs and crossovers.