The sedan remains a popular choice for the well-heeled, with marques like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Mercedes-Maybach all fielding full-size sedan competitors. But SUVs are taking over the world and, especially in the USA, they are now the most popular type of car. High-end ultra-luxury SUVs cash in on that lucrative segment, and the most unlikely brands have taken the plunge - even Ferrari and Lamborghini sell SUVs nowadays, albeit with a performance focus. But if your focus is luxury and exclusivity alongside ample power, the Bentley Bentayga has to be on your shortlist. It starts at around $200k and comes in a regular and extended wheelbase with a choice of 542-horsepower gas and 456-hp hybrid powertrains, so strong performance is a given. It's Bentley's interpretation of sports luxury with a raised ride height, and it comes up against the more expensive Rolls-Royce Cullinan and cheaper rivals such as the Aston Martin DBX and Mercedes-Maybach GLS. Which one is king of the ultra-lux sports utility vehicles?
The 2024 Bentayga range loses last year's limited-run Oddysean Edition and First Edition trims, while a new A trim between the base V8 and S trims is launched in regular, extended wheelbase (EWB), and hybrid guises, with a chromed waterfall grille and a new style of 21-inch alloy wheel. At the top of the lineup, a flagship Mulliner trim is introduced with the extended wheelbase and V8 engine. More equipment is standard, the most important being the EWB's rear-wheel steering, which is now fitted to the Azure and S trims with the regular wheelbase as well. Another formerly EWB-exclusive feature - the 22-way power-adjustable and reclining Airline Seats - will soon be offered as an option on trims with the regular wheelbase. Bentley no longer lists the optional third row as an option on the 2024 lineup.
To extend its comprehensive customization service, Bentley is adding eight new paint colors, upping the total number of hues to a staggering 112. Newly available 21-inch alloy wheels in any of three finishes also come on stream as part of the A trim specification. Bentley refines the EWB's rear-seat climate control by now also monitoring rear-seat passengers' temperature and surface humidity, while the posture-adjustment system of the Bentley Airline Seats Specification chairs monitors up to 177 pressure changes to keep passengers fatigue-free. All these changes add a couple of grand to the base price of a new Bentley Bentayga, so even the cheapest model now exceeds $200k.
The starting price of the 2024 Bentley Bentayga in base V8 guise is $203,200. Next up is the new A trim at a price of $215,300, followed by the S at $240,300 and the Azure at $246,400. The base and A trims cost the same, whether they're fitted with the V8 gas or V6 PHEV powertrain, but the Hybrid S and Hybrid Azure are cheaper than their V8 gas counterparts at $232,300 and $238,200, respectively.
Upgrading a regular wheelbase to the EWB will cost you significantly: the EWB base V8 goes for $233,700, the EWB A costs $242,100, and the EWB Azure starts at $271,400. The MSRP of the new Mulliner trim is $336,000. A destination fee of $2,725 applies to the regular Bentaygas, but it's $3,150 for the EWB models.
We would go for the Azure if it were our money. The Bentayga looks splendid on those eye-catching silver 22-inch wheels, and all the Azure-level chrome on the outside suits the luxury image. The interior appointments and finishes are even more upmarket and reflect the Azure's status, while you get the full suite of driver assists as well. The Bentley Dynamic Ride suspension and rear-wheel steering for better maneuvering and easier parking seal the deal - just decide if you want the EWB or not.
The interior has an old-school charm to it, but the necessary technology is present and easy to use, including digital displays for both the gauge cluster and infotainment.
The exquisitely crafted interior is a haven of tranquility, insulated from the noises and vibrations of the outside world. Getting into any Bentayga is a treat, as there are so many available combinations of colors and materials for the furnishings and trim that it's unlikely you'll ever find two identical ones. There's no plastic in sight, just the highest quality leathers, metals, and veneers. The harmonious dashboard design integrates old-school charm and modern tech like an up-to-date infotainment system, but it's all discreetly and classily presented. Even the base cars' seats feature power adjustment, heating, ventilation, and massaging functions, with upper trims gaining rear-seat ventilation and massaging too, either as an option or as standard. The EWB models offer more rear-seat space, and the Mulliner comes with the Bentley Airline Seat Specification second row - individual power-adjustable chairs that can recline and have ventilation and massaging functions. Various Comfort Specification packages are available to upgrade both the front and rear seats.
The regular Bentayga has a three-seater bench second row, but this can be substituted for the Four Seat Comfort Specification with a center console, reducing seating capacity to four. The Bentley Airline Seat Specification is standard on the EWB Mulliner only and an option on all the other Bentayga trims, including those with the regular wheelbase from this year. Bentley has quietly dropped the third-row option from its spec sheet, so it seems this year's Bentayga can no longer be ordered as a seven-seater. Interior space is very good, with plenty of rear legroom, and those who want even more should look at the EWB version, which adds 7.1 inches to the wheelbase and body length. All of this is claimed to be added to the legroom of the second row, which should take this figure to around 48 inches. The Maybach GLS offers up to 52.8 inches of rear-seat legroom with the passenger front seat in the chauffeur position; again, Bentley doesn't provide a figure with the Bentayga's front passenger seat tilted forward.
Trunk space is unremarkable, with the 17.1 cubic feet available behind the second row falling slightly short of what the Cullinan and GLS offer. Trunk volume can be expanded to 62.6 cu-ft by folding down the regular second rows, but the Bentley Airline Seat Specification seats do not fold down. They also eat into regular cargo space, reducing the total behind them to just 13.8 cu-ft. The EWB should provide more trunk space with the second row folded, but Bentley has not disclosed exactly how much.
In the cabin, there are many places to store personal effects, including the glovebox, door pockets, two cupholders, a wireless charging pad, an exposed storage nook in the center console, and a lidded storage bin behind them. The second row gets two door pockets and two cupholders in the fold-down center armrest. The four-seat versions have a full center console with storage space and cupholders.
|38 in. front
38 in. rear
|41.9 in. front
40.4 in. rear
|42.5 in. front
40.2 in. rear
|41.7 in. front
40.9 in. rear
Est. 48 in. rear (EWB)
|39.6 in. front
42.9 in. rear
|40.3 in. front
43.4 in. rear
|13.8 ft³ - 62.6 ft³ (SWB)
It's all about the personalization of your Bentley, and you'll spend hours on the configurator doing that. Only real leather, wood, and metal are used throughout the interior. But it has to start somewhere, so the base V8 gets a single-color cabin in a variety of hide colors such as Newmarket Tan, Imperial Blue, and Cumbrian Green, to name a few. The default cabin trim is crown-cut walnut, but 10 more veneer choices are available, including Liquid Amber, Grand Black, and a Mulliner veneer called Tamo Ash, as well as choices such as diamond-brushed aluminum and carbon fiber. The A trim allows you to choose a main hide color for the seats and lower cabin and a secondary hide color for the top of the dashboard and doors, as well as a choice for the steering wheel. The focus in this trim is on sustainability, with a low-lacquer finish for its standard open-pore crown walnut trim.
This sets the scene for the other trims, which all come with their own dedicated color splits, interior colors for the hides, and many veneers and other trim materials. The S trim's configuration comes in a more sporty setup, where the center console, lower dash, and the centers of seats and door panels contrast with the other interior trim. The red Hotspur main hide and Beluga secondary hide with diamond-brushed aluminum trim is particularly fetching.
The Azure gets its own unique color split, quilted leather, Azure embroidering, and more. If you can believe it, the top-spec Mulliner takes customization well beyond what you've read so far. The default Cambric tri-tone color split incorporates luxurious cotton and contrast stitching and piping, but there are seven other color splits to choose from, along with an unending selection of main hides, secondary hides, veneers, and accent and emblem colors. This trim gets exquisitely subtle LED illumination behind the diamond-quilted leather door trim.
Bentleys are more about exclusivity and personalization than the standard features, but each car comes with a reasonable base specification. Standard equipment across the board includes a digital gauge cluster, a garage-door opener, heated front and rear seats, ventilated 20-way power front seats with massaging, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, driver's memory settings, ambient interior lighting, four-zone climate control, and power rear blinds. The new Mulliner EWB trim comes with power-operated rear doors and the Bentley Airline Seat Specification in the rear.
The infotainment system is equipped with a 10.9-inch touchscreen and comes with navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth with audio streaming, built-in apps, Wi-Fi, a wireless charging pad, and an MP3-capable 12-speaker audio system. A rear-seat entertainment system with dual 10.2-inch screens is a $2,805 option, as are upgraded audio systems, including a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen setup or a 20-speaker Naim system. From the Azure and up, the additional head-up display and night vision of the now-standard Touring Specification are as much part of the infotainment as they are safety features.
|Heated, ventilated, & massaging front seats, heated rear seats
|Panoramic glass sunroof
|10.9-inch touchscreen with navigation & 12-speaker audio
|20-speaker Naim audio system
The Bentayga doesn’t mind being thrown around, but is best on the standard suspension on the non-S trims, which provide a superbly refined ride.
The gas Bentley Bentayga's engine is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. This arrangement gives the Bentley Bentayga a 0-60 sprint of 4.4 seconds with the regular wheelbase and 4.5 seconds with the EWB, and on to a top speed of 180 mph. The hybrids employ a turbocharged 3.0L V6 and a 134-hp electric motor to produce 456 hp and 516 lb-ft. It uses the same drivetrain as the V8, but the six-cylinder hybrids are slower, taking 5.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, and 158 mph flat-out. In EV mode, top speed is 84 mph. Trailering is on the cards if you order the electrically retracting factory tow hitch. Bentley doesn't quote a towing capacity for the Bentayga. No tow hitch is available for the hybrid. A luxury SUV is unlikely to venture off-road, but the adjustable air suspension and variable ground clearance should make it quite adept. The All Terrain Specification package adds off-road driving modes and under-body protection.
Bentley is a purveyor of sporty luxury cars, but one has to ask how much sport you need in an SUV. The standard adaptive air suspension is supremely comfortable, blotting out road scars as if they don't exist, transporting you in comfort and silence. The bigger wheels thwack into ruts, but it's more heard than felt, and the Bentayga never loses its sense of calm. But if you thought upgrading to the S trim would turn the Bentayga into a Cayenne GTS, you'd be wrong. It hunkers down in Sport mode and flies through corners with hardly any roll, but there just isn't enough steering feel to make it fun, the transmission doesn't always select the right gear, and it loses a little of the regular suspension's suppleness. It handles better than the stock car and the rear-axle steering makes it feel pointier, but we'd have our Bentayga in non-S format, where the powertrain and suspension work in harmony.
Gas mileage might not be high on a Bentayga buyer's list of priorities, but for what it's worth, the standard V8 gas Bentley Bentaygas' mpg estimates are 14/21/17 mpg on the EPA's city/highway/combined cycles in both regular and EWB formats. With a fuel capacity of 22.5 gallons, expect about 382 miles from a full tank.
The hybrid is considerably more efficient, returning 47 MPGe, 20 mpg combined, and a range of 18 miles on its 18-kWh battery. The hybrids also have a smaller 19.8-gallon gas tank, so they don't get that much farther than the gas cars on a tank; bargain on around 420 miles.
The hybrid comes as standard with a Bentley charging dock. The battery can be fully charged in around seven hours from a regular 110/120-V outlet, but this can be reduced to around two and a half hours using a 220/240-V outlet.
|4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
|3.0L Turbo V6 Gas PHEV
|12 / 19 / 14 mpg
4.5 sec. (EWB)
|7 hours @ 110/120 V
2.5 hours @ 220/240 V
Though there are no crash results, other cars on this platform cars have done well, but you only get the full driver-assist suite as standard on the top trims.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has evaluated the safety of the Bentley Bentayga, as these types of expensive luxury cars aren't usually crash-tested. The Audi Q7, which shares the Bentayga's MLB-Evo platform, achieved stellar ratings, and with the available tech and consideration from Bentley, we expect that the Bentayga should be in the same league.
The basic safety suite that all Bentaygas come out with includes hill-hold assist, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, traffic-sign recognition, parking sensors front and rear, a surround-view camera, front-collision alert, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic adaptive headlights with auto high beams and a cornering function. The Touring Specification that's optional on the lower trims and standard on the Azure and up substantially upgrades the standard driver assists, adding predictive adaptive cruise control with lane guidance, a head-up display, and night vision.
|Front-collision alert w/ traffic-sign recognition
|Blind-spot monitoring w/ rear cross-traffic alert
|Adaptive cruise control w/ lane guidance
|Head-up display & night vision
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
We know comparatively little about the reliability of the Bentley Bentayga, as exclusive luxury cars are not sold in sufficient quantities to get JD Power ratings. At the time of writing, the 2024 Bentayga was still recall-free, but the 2023 model was recalled for a possible fuel leak and for incorrectly installed second-row seats.
With limits of three years each, neither the limited nor the powertrain warranty of the 2024 Bentley Bentayga sounds very impressive, but you'll be pleased to know that there is no mileage limit attached to them. Complimentary maintenance for one year/10,000 miles is included.
The Bentayga's somewhat controversial front end is unmistakable - a taller version of what you'd find on the Continental or Flying Spur - and the defined rear haunches and oval taillights give it an authentic Bentley family resemblance. The EWB body adds 7.1 inches to the wheelbase, which is harmoniously integrated into the design. Standard features include all-LED exterior lighting with cornering lights, foglights, soft-closing doors, roof rails, a roof spoiler, and a glass panoramic sunroof. Base cars ride on silver 21-inch alloys and have a black mesh grille, while the new A trim gets the Azure's chromed waterfall grille and two-color 21-inch wheels. The sportier S trim comes with machined 22-inch alloys with red brake calipers, blacked-out exterior trim, dark-tinted front and rear lights, and an elongated roof spoiler. The optional Styling Specification on this trim adds lots of carbon-fiber exterior details. The Azure gets 10-spoke 22-inch alloys, chromed front grilles and exterior details, and 'cut-crystal' matrix-LED headlights. The top-spec Mulliner comes only with the EWB body, diamond-in-diamond grille and fender-vent finishes, and exclusive Mulliner 22-inch alloy wheels.
A Lambo Urus and Aston's DBX are both sportier, and a Cullinan is more exclusive, but as a middle ground between these two categories, the Bentayga occupies a very attractive position. You get a lot of the coveted Rolls-Royce exclusivity, along with the endless customization options in the Bentley, but at a significant cost saving over the Roller - the latter costs nearly $400k even in its cheapest form. The Bentayga is also more of a driver's SUV, yet even roomier than the Rolls in EWB format for those who prefer to be driven around. It also offers plenty of performance. The deciding factor for us is that you get access to proper choice, not just in personalization, but also in body lengths and powertrain options, with the option of driving electric-only trips, if you don't stray too far from home.
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