Car Review: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Estrema is full of character compared to normal luxury SUV

I still get giddy when the schedule of vehicles hits my mailbox. When something like an Alfa Romeo is on the list, I know it will be a standout week.

2023 Alfa Romeo Estrema
The 2023 Alfa Romeo Estrema comes with traditional V shaped grill. The 21-inch 5 hole wheels hints at its sporty nature. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

The Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio versions are sporty goodness to the max, with brilliant handling and engines that will make you say, “Wow.” However, the price and performance are a bit much for many buyers.

Fortunately, Alfa Romeo has a new version of the Stelvio compact SUV to satisfy those who want more sport in a less-costly version. The 2023 Stelvio Estrema elevates the driving experience with the active suspension that gives this small SUV the handling capability of the very pricey Quadrifoglio version.

This Alfa tackles back roads with the great enthusiasm of a sports car and makes you quickly forget that it is an SUV. It feels light and agile. The steering takes a few miles to get used to the light input needed for action. The four-cylinder turbo engine keeps up with traffic. Still, I wish there was another 20hp or so to help exploit the improved suspension.

The styling of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Estrema carries a sportier look than many other small SUVs. The traditional carbon fiber V-shaped grill stands out in today’s market. Its sculpted body sports a very athletic look, especially with the 21-inch, five-hole wheels and carbon fiber mirrors. Out back, the Alfa sportiness carries through to the rear diffuser and large dual exhaust outlets.

The cabin continues that sporty demeanor with power adjustable sport seats covered in leather. You also get a leather-covered dash and doors that give this Stelvio the look and feel of a pricier ride. This is a driver-focused vehicle and nothing conveys that more than the aluminum paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. You will actually use them, and they feel nice and make a great sound. However, their size nearly blocks some of the controls located behind them. The vision out the back window is lacking, so I relied on the camera more than I’d like when backing up.

Cost: $51,525; as tested $61,580

MPG: 22 MPG City; 28 MPG Highway. I managed 23.1 MPG in 349 miles of mixed driving.

Options: $660 Misano — blue metallic paint; $7,800 Estrema AWD-package; $1,595 destination charge

Safety: Ready-alert braking; full speed forward collision warn plus; adaptive cruise control with full stop; lane departure alert warning plus; automatic high beams; front and rear park assist sensors; lane keep assist; blind spot and cross path detection; pedestrian/cyclist emergency braking.

Things to know: The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Estrema is the SUV that drives like a sports car and doubles as a luxury family hauler with a thrifty four-cylinder engine.


  • Borrowed parts from the extremely sporty Stelvio Quadrifoglio without the big price tag
  • An SUV that is loads of fun to drive
  • Four-cylinder turbo engine provides a more economical drive


  • Could use a bit more power to help explore the added handling capability
  • Lacks cargo space when compared to the competition
  • Technology is a bit behind

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