Bentley Bentayga

At the heart of the 2017 Bentley Bentayga is its engine. Other SUV's might make due with 6- or 8-cylinder engines, but nothing so pedestrian powers the Bentayga. Underneath the hood sits a 6.0L W12 engine fed by two turbochargers, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, sending power to all four wheels. Speaking of which, Bentley claims the sophisticated but huge engine makes 600 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. The sprint to 60 mph takes less than 4 seconds; reminding everyone on board that Bentley have won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race on more than one occasion.

Picking out the right Bentayga is an exercise that can easily take up one's entire afternoon. So many options and colors are available for the big SUV that it's easy to get lost amongst the features list. And of course the standard features are just on this side of ridiculous. Virtually every car sold in the last forty years comes with a sound system with at least four speakers and at least a 100-watt amp. The Bentayga also has a sound system-- it has 20 speakers and a 1950-watt amp. Not surprisingly, Bentley claims it's the most powerful stereo ever sold in an SUV. Other cars might have a rear seat entertainment system, but the Bentayga has two 10.2-inch screens set into the headrests that are removable and can be used as tablets. There's also a touchscreen remote located between the rear seats to control that infotainment system.

The Bentayga is available in three distinct specifications, Touring, City and All-Terrain. All-Terrain Bentaygas come with a couple of unique driving modes, including a Mud and Trail mode and a Sand mode. Another nice little feature on the All-Terrain is a sump camera that could prove invaluable in helping the driver to avoid bottoming out on while off-roading. A compass, an altimeter and various other off road spec gauges come standard on the All-Terrain.

City specification includes Park Assist functions and a top view camera to make parking the admittedly large SUV significantly easier. The City specification also has the ability to detect traffic signs, displaying speed limits and other signs in the dashboard where the driver can see them. The City specification also has additional features to help avoid fender benders in urban areas. The Bentayga has an audible pedestrian warning system that will beep if someone steps into the vehicle's path, applying emergency braking if necessary.

The Touring specification adds adaptive cruise control and lane assist functions to the Bentayga. The adaptive cruise control can even be used in heavy traffic, allowing the Bentayga to come to a complete stop and then accelerate again as traffic allows. A night vision system can also warn drivers of potential hazards lurking beyond the view of the headlights.

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Editors' First Take

The best thing about the new Bentayga is that Bentley didn't try to fix what wasn't broken. The good things remain intact: Strong V8 power, confident road manners, an opulent interior -- you know, Bentley stuff. Instead, the updates focus on strengthening the Bentayga's weak points. The result is an SUV that isn't all that different from its predecessor, yet at the same time it's better in a number of big ways.

The 2021 Bentayga is a little more attractive than before, though I still struggle to call it pretty. The front end is better, with the same crystal-like headlamps as the Continental GT. The Conti's influence carries around to the back, too, where big oval taillamps shine a familiar light signature. The full-width tailgate is also new, which not only gets rid of some ugly cut lines, but expands the opening to the generous hatch.

The Bentayga's interior is lovely, with exquisite materials and fantastic attention to detail. The intricate stitching is flawless, the fit and finish nothing short of superb. The doors close with the authority of a bank vault and softly seal you inside. The redesigned seats have a diamond-quilted pattern that looks killer, especially alongside the 3D leather on the door and geometric trim on the dashboard. It's hard to tell from my lousy photos, but the Cumberland Green hide of this tester is absolutely ace, and the comfy chairs offer heating, cooling and massage. Rear passengers have about 4 more inches of legroom than before, and there's a tablet on the back of the center console, so back-seat riders can control the Bentayga's climate and infotainment functions. A pair of USB-C outlets will keep those passengers' devices charged, too.

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