I have no shame in admitting that I'm a big fan of super sporty SUVs. I love the dichotomy created by taking a practicality focused body style that's traditionally meant for off-roading and giving it wild on-road performance, especially when the SUV in question is coming from a brand that's typically known for making sports cars. So I was obviously stoked when Lamborghini launched the Urus crossover in 2017, its first mainstream four-door ever. After spending a few days with a Urus, there's no doubt in my mind that it's a fantastic SUV. I just wish it were more exciting.
Updates to the Urus for 2021 are fairly minor. There are more shades in the color palette, and there's a special Pearl Capsule Collection edition that features super-bright hues inside and out. The Urus also comes standard with previously optional driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and a head-up display, and the available parking assist package has been upgraded to include automatic parallel and perpendicular parking systems. There's a new key design, too.
I love how the Urus looks -- which is a controversial take among my colleagues. It's not necessarily pretty or attractive, but neither are so many of my favorite Lambos. I think the Urus' styling looks better the more absurd the spec -- in silver or black, it blends in too well with other crossovers -- so luckily my tester is finished in a searing shade of pearlescent Verde Mantis paint.
Adding to the visual impact, my Urus test car has $73,747 in options, almost all of which are solely cosmetic upgrades. That green paint costs $9,344, and it's got a $3,157 protection film. The carbon-fiber finish on the lower parts of the bumpers and side skirts is $14,326, but that package doesn't include the carbon wheel arches, which are $6,692, or the carbon rear spoiler, which is $1,478. The gloss-black 23-inch wheels cost $5,358, while the matching green brake calipers are $1,262. Rounding out the visual options are $884 matte black exhaust tips and a $2,848 panoramic sunroof.
This Urus' interior isn't nearly as extroverted as the exterior, with black leather covering almost every surface. Aside from some design flourishes like lots of hexagonal shapes and angular trim pieces, the Urus' interior looks pretty boring, but everything is high quality and all the touchpoints feel nice. There's $2,103 worth of matching lime green stitching and embroidered headrests, though, as well as $6,100 in carbon-fiber trim and kickplates. This Urus also has the $3,157 comfort front seat option that adds 18-way adjustments and ventilation and massage functions, as well as a bangin' $6,313 3D sound system.
The Urus uses a reskinned version of Audi's great dual-screen MMI system and a version of Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster, but the super strange central gear selector and the two drive-mode toggles flanking it are all Lambo. Visibility is a lot better than I was expecting despite the Urus' slim greenhouse, and there's a good amount of back seat room. This Urus has the $3,788 four-seat configuration, which adds a fixed rear center console and gives the rear seats 8-way electric adjustment, but the seat backs can still be folded down.
My biggest problem with the Urus is that it doesn't feel exciting enough to drive. Don't get me wrong, the Urus is awesome when you get it on a good road. It's powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine putting out 641 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, a motor shared with other Volkswagen Group products. It's absurdly quick, with Lamborghini quoting a 3.6-second 0-to-60-mph time, and the 8-speed automatic transmission rips off quick shifts. It's super planted in corners with tons of grip from those 23-inch Pirelli P Zero tires, and the torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system and rear-axle steering make it feel more nimble than its nearly 5,000-pound weight would suggest. The massive 17-inch brake rotors provide excellent stopping power, too.
Around town or on the highway is a different story, though. In the calmest Strada drive mode the Urus is comfortable and quiet -- you have no idea how much power is at your disposal. Sport mode takes things up a couple notches, but the engine response and exhaust note are still a little too calm for what I want from a car with a raging bull on the hood.
In Corsa mode the exhaust really wakes up, getting loud and rowdy with constant pops, bangs and crackles when I shift or let off the gas. But the jerkiness and high-strung nature of the engine and transmission in Corsa makes the Urus almost undriveable and annoying if you aren't going fast. With the Ego switch you can create a personalized drive mode setup, individually toggling through the settings for the drivetrain, steering and suspension. But because the exhaust sound is tied to the drive mode -- there's no switch to make it loud or quiet separate of mode -- being in Corsa is the only way to make the Urus sound its best. What the Urus needs is a better middle ground: A sporty drive mode that sounds awesome and feels dramatic without being too much for the street.
The 2021 Urus starts at $222,004 (including a $3,995 destination charge), and my test car rings in at $295,751. That's a whole lot pricier than the $179,986 Aston Martin DBX, which I think is more special to drive while looking just as exotic. Then there's the Audi RS Q8 with which the Urus shares its powertrain, chassis and much of its tech and performance features. At $115,595 the Audi is more than $100K cheaper than the Lamborghini, and it's just as good to drive.
There's good news on the horizon, though. Lamborghini is working on a facelift for the Urus, which could be called the Urus Evo and pack even more power and enhanced dynamics, and there's also a plug-in hybrid version on the way. Here's hoping these new variants inject a little more absurdity into this surprisingly sedate SUV.