The Bentley Bentayga is everything you’d expect. It’s powerful, sophisticated, extremely customizable and wildly expensive. Maybe we could live without that last attribute, but no one is buying a Bentayga because they’re on a strict SUV budget. Competitors to the Bentayga include similarly excessive sport-utes like the Aston Martin DBX, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
How does the Bentayga stand out among vehicles where price is no object? For the 2021 model year, Bentley has refreshed the exterior and upgraded the infotainment system. The changes are subtle but, in all honesty, the Bentayga hardly needed more power or luxury touches to stay relevant among such well-heeled rivals.
The price? Because it was still a pre-production model, an exact MSRP wasn’t listed — but with a base price hovering around $177,000, what can we say: It’s a hard job, but someone had to do it.
For an expedited take on this ultra-expensive SUV, however, keep reading below for six things we like, plus four we don’t, about the 2021 Bentley Bentayga:
1. Bentley Power
The Bentayga we tested came with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine that delivers 542 horsepower and 568 pounds-feet of torque to all four wheels via eight-speed automatic transmission. While the Bentayga is awfully heavy with a curb weight of more than 5,400 pounds, this engine also has little trouble blasting this SUV down the road. Bonus: A plug-in hybrid model is on the way, too, along with a more powerful twin-turbo W-12 reserved for the aptly-named Bentayga Speed model.
2. Road Presence
We’ll talk about the Bentayga’s overall styling refresh later — and perhaps not in the context you expect. To its credit, the Bentayga stands out in a crowd; this is an SUV that gets noticed everywhere it treads. From its wide chrome-mesh front grilles to the massive 22-inch alloy wheels, the side chrome adornments on each front fender and new oval-shaped taillights, the Bentayga is not bashful about making an entrance.
3. Relaxed Handling
During our time with the 2021 Bentayga, we said the handling felt like we were piloting a “luxury touring wagon.” There are rivals from Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche that offer sharper reflexes and quicker steering responses, but driving like a maniac isn’t in the character of the Bentayga. It feels too refined and mature for tire-burning antics.
4. An Interior to Spoil You
Open the doors and be prepared for a visual feast of chrome, wood and leather — the cabin of the Bentayga is gorgeous from any angle. Our test vehicle came with an interior finished in cream leather and highlighted with delectable wood trim along the dash and doors. If you don’t like it, don’t worry: Bentley encourages customers to create a color scheme to match their exact demands.
5. A Better Bentley Infotainment System
In the last-generation Bentayga, an awkward thing happened each time you’d fire up the infotainment system: While it worked well enough, it was also painfully obvious that SUVs costing a fraction of the price had systems that were infinitely better to use. The new 10.9-inch touchscreen is a definite step in the right direction, the menus are clearer and the system is now compatible with Apple CarPlay.
6. Extra Rear Legroom
Sure, the cabin is pretty enough, but it’s also now roomier for anyone seated in the second row. According to Bentley, the interior changes freed up 4 inches of legroom back there. This lets you stretch out and soak up that Bentley luxury, not to mention sunrays coming in from the panoramic roof overhead.
Things We Don’t
1. Style Is Subjective, Even at This Price
We’ve said the Bentley Bentayga makes its presence known, but that doesn’t mean the styling updates are all automatic hits and not misses. We were particularly left cold by the new oval-shaped taillights: They borrow the same style used on the Continental coupe and Flying Spur sedan, but they look lost in the wide tailgate expanse of the Bentayga. And while those 22-inch wheels are fancy, they’re also finicky in everyday driving.
2. A Snooty Appetite for Smooth Roads
When the road is smooth, the 2021 Bentayga offers effortless speed and a serene ride from its air suspension. When things get a little rougher, however, the Bentayga suddenly loses its composure — the ride gets bouncy and choppy with little warning. (Some blame is due to those massive alloy wheels, which are an engineer’s nightmare when tuning a vehicle’s suspension.)
3. Quirks Remain in the Infotainment System
Maybe it was because we drove a pre-production model, but the infotainment system in our test vehicle didn’t always play nice. Sometimes it would pair to a previously recognized smartphone; others, it would stubbornly refuse to recognize the same device. Oh yes, and Android Auto is still a no-go in terms of infotainment compatibility.
4. So Affordable (Just Kidding!)
The Bentley Bentayga costs big bucks. Surprise! So, is that really a con? Until we pull a winning lottery ticket, maybe so. The base price of the Bentayga starts around $177,000, but real-world examples routinely hover closer to $250,000 per copy.