2021 Bentley Bentayga Review

Mid-cycle updates refresh a $180,000 crossover.

2 weeks ago
Michael Harley
EVP Product, Editor-in-Chief
PROS
  • Opulent and lavish interior
  • Whisper-quiet cabin
  • Agility and athleticism that belies its mass
  • Impressive acceleration
  • Exclusivity
CONS
  • Rear seats offer average legroom
  • Thirsty V8 and W12 engines
  • Desirable safety features are optional

The 2021 Bentley Bentayga is a mid-size luxury crossover with seating for up to seven passengers. First introduced in 2016, today’s Bentayga is a first-generation design significantly refreshed for the 2021 model year. All models of the crossover are fitted with permanent all-wheel drive, but there is a choice of engines including V6 Hybrid, V8 and W12 power. The 2021 Bentley Bentayga starts at just over $177,000. 

Bentayga Exterior

The Bentayga boasts a freshened exterior for the 2021 model year meant to elevate its premium luxury appearance. The sheet metal is crisper; there is more brightwork; and exterior features are more pronounced. 

In addition to a new hood and front fenders, the front grille has been widened and sits slightly more upright. New headlight surrounds have been engineered to reflect the LED light to replicate expensive jewels. At the rear, new scalloped tail lamps better match those on Bentley’s Continental GT lineup.

Fit and finish is impressive, and the paint is deep and glossy. Customers may choose from dozens of paint colors. Bentley fits 21-inch wheels as standard equipment with 22-inch wheels on the options list. As expected, there are nearly a dozen wheel designs offered. 

(The Bentayga in our images is Cricket Ball over Linen hides with Liquid Amber veneers.)

2021 Bentley Bentayga Review

Bentayga Interior

As expected of a vehicle of this caliber, the passenger cabin of the Bentayga is opulent – an eye-pleasing blend of tradition, technology, and premium materials. Conjuring up visions of an exceptionally cozy space, Bentley refers to the Bentayga’s cabin as a “cocoon.”

The driver faces a digital instrument cluster with simulated analog gauges and a multifunction display in the middle. A large 10.9-inch infotainment screen sits prominent at the top of the dashboard, just below the HVAC vents. Airflow is controlled via gorgeous polished stainless organ pulls. Deep-pile carpets and sumptuous hand-stitched leather hides are complemented by hand-stained and laminated wood trim throughout – even the headliner is finished in glove-soft leather. Bentley offers a range of available materials for all of its interiors. These include a customer’s choice of hide colors, contrasting hides, veneers, and interior details that are only limited by imagination and budget.

Bentley offers 4-, 5-, and 7-passenger seating arrangements. The front seat configuration is identical in all – driver and front passenger set apart by a wide center console housing a traditional transmission lever, cupholders, and a storage area. In 4-passenger “Comfort” specification (the most limousine-like arrangement), there is a rear center console separating the second-row passengers. In 5-passenger variants, rear-seat occupants have individually formed seats (with a reclining feature) at the outboard positions, with the center passenger sitting on a flat cushion. The 7-seat specification adds small jump seats to the cargo compartment – suitable for children only. 

Rear HVAC outlets at the base of the center console and roof pillars deliver ample ventilation. A digital touchpad is inset for precise rear seat control of climate, infotainment, and comfort settings. 

In five- and seven-passenger configurations, the second row of seats split/fold 40:20:40 to increase utility. Metal channels in the cargo compartment secure packages and luggage. 

2021 Bentley Bentayga Review

Bentayga Powertrain

The Bentayga offers three different powerplants, each mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

The standard Bentayga features a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine (542 hp/568 lb-ft off torque). The muscular engine delivers a 0-60 mph sprint in about 4.4 seconds. We estimate that most owners will get about 15 mpg overall (the EPA rating is 14 mpg city/23 mpg highway).

The Bentayga Hybrid is a gasoline-electric hybrid fitted with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 paired with an electric motor (443 hp/516 lb-ft of torque combined). The Hybrid is plenty quick – a 0-60 mph sprint takes about 5.2 seconds – and efficient, too. Most owners will average about 20 mpg overall. And, thanks to a 17.3 kWh battery, the hybrid crossover can travel up to 31 miles in pure electric mode without the assistance of its combustion engine. The battery accepts a charge rate of 7.2 kW/h, so it may be fully recharged in about 2.5 hours with a Level 2 charger.

Finally, the Bentley Speed boasts a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 (626 hp/664 lb-ft of torque). The robust powerplant drops the 0-60 mph time to fewer than 3.9-seconds and raises the top speed to 190 mph – the Speed is quicker and faster than most dedicated sports cars. Of course, that performance comes at the expense of fuel economy – we estimate that most owners will get about 13 mpg overall (the EPA rating is 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway). 

All 2021 Bentley Bentayga models are equipped with permanent all-wheel drive with four standard drive modes to configure the vehicle for a particular operating parameter. An optional All-Terrain Specification adds four more modes, which brings the total to eight – the widest range of on- and off-road drive settings of any crossover on the market. 

2021 Bentley Bentayga Review

Bentayga Driving Experience

The Bentayga is large for a 5-passenger crossover – its physical stature is imposing. Driving in crowded parking lots requires an additional level of focus to watch the corners (thankfully, large exterior mirrors and cameras do an exemplary job of keeping the driver informed). But a benefit to the vehicle’s size is a commanding view of the road and a very comfortable (upright) seating position regardless of whether you are front seats or the rear. The cabin is whisper-quiet, thanks to generous sound insulation and laminated side glass. 

Bentley’s turbocharged V8 engine has a muted rumble that hints at its power without treading on being obnoxious. Gentle throttle applications are met with gentleman-like acceleration and smoothness from the 8-speed automatic. On the other hand, mash the throttle and the Bentayga roars boastfully – passenger heads snap against the seatbacks as the crossover accelerates faster than just about every other vehicle on the road, while a loud growl emanates from the engine and exhaust. 

The ride is smooth, comfortable, and well-controlled regardless of the surface. The 5,300-lb Bentley Bentayga drives with agility and athleticism that belies its mass – credit an innovative and sophisticated 48-volt electrically actuated suspension system greatly reducing body roll in corners. While many SUVs feel downright ponderous and sloppy when navigating twisty roads and corners, the Bentayga is nimble and light-footed. Bentley widened the rear track for 2021, which improved diving dynamics (our test vehicle’s optional 22-inch wheels, wrapped in sticky Pirelli summer tires, also helped). 

2021 Bentley Bentayga Trim Levels and Pricing 

Bentley offers three different models of the Bentayga crossover:

  • Bentayga V8 (starts at about $177,000) – Entry-level model, strong V8 engine, 21-inch wheels
  • Bentayga Hybrid (pricing has not been announced) – Hybrid V6/motor powerplant, plug-in electric for up to 31 miles of combustion-free range
  • Bentayga Speed (starts at about $245,000) – Powerful W12 engine, dark tinted cosmetics, “Speed” embroidery within the cabin, standard 22-inch wheels

If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price a Bentayga on the Bentley official web site. 

2021 Bentley Bentayga Review

Bentayga Best Features

We are smitten by the Bentayga’s luxurious cabin, which welcomes passengers with an intoxicating rich leather aroma immediately after the motorized soft-close doors open. It mimics the scent of a fine Italian purse. The leather upholstery is buttery-soft, the massaging seats extraordinarily comfortable, and the materials used throughout the cabin (e.g., polished stainless-steel rings around the vents) deliver a pleasing tactile experience when touched. The experience is nothing short of first-class. 

What is Our Favorite Version of the Bentayga? 

There is no poor choice when looking at the three different Bentayga offerings – each is well accomplished. However, our favorite is the Bentayga Hybrid. While it’s not the quickest of the trio, it has more than ample power to effortlessly put most other vehicles in its rearview mirror. Add in the fact that it will run over 30 miles in pure-EV mode (effectively covering what most owners will drive daily) and deliver a combined 500+ mile range for road trips, it’s the ultimate expression of a premium luxury family-oriented crossover.  

Bentayga Notable Safety Features

The 2021 Bentley Bentayga is equipped with a comprehensive list of standard safety equipment, but most non-required safety features (e.g., adaptive cruise control and lane assist) are bundled within optional packages.  

Due to its low production volume, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have not crash-tested the Bentley Bentayga. We even look into Euro NCAP crash-testing, but the Bentley has not been tested.

Who Should Buy a 2021 Bentley Bentayga?

Bentley is targeting customers seeking a premium crossover for their familes. Unlike the automaker’s sedan and coupe models, which appeal to older buyers, the Bentayga crossover buyer is slightly younger (between the ages of 40-60) and they have children. They will drive the Bentayga frequently, likely making it one of most-used vehicles in their household. Owners will have chosen the Bentley over others for its cachet, luxurious interior, interior space, and sporty driving dynamics. Even though it’s all-wheel drive is robust and capable, the Bentayga is unlikely to be used off-road. 

CarExpert’s Take on the 2021 Bentley Bentayga

The comprehensive updates to the 2021 Bentley Bentayga have genuinely improved the vehicle compared to last year’s model – a tough act to improve. The 2021 model is physically more attractive, the cabin is more opulent, the infotainment system is more responsive, and the driving dynamics have been improved. 

Uninformed skeptics will dismiss the Bentayga as nothing more than gussied-up Audi Q7 (they share platforms, as does the sporty Lamborghini Urus), but the reality is that the two vehicles are distinctly different, and they appeal to completely different buyers. While the Q7 serves a discerning affluent audience, the Bentayga is purchased by the upper echelon of wealthy clientele who are seeking more luxury, more power, more prestige, and much greater exclusivity.

2021 Bentley Bentayga Review

Bentayga Competitors to Consider

  • Aston Martin DBX
  • BMW Alpina XB7
  • Lamborghini Urus
  • Land Rover Range Rover
  • Mercedes-Maybach GLS-Class
  • Rolls-Royce Cullinan

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OVERALL RATING8
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8
Ride Comfort 9.1
Safety 8
Fit for Purpose 7.5
Handling Dynamics 8.8
Interior Practicality and Space 7.6
Fuel Efficiency 6.5
Value for Money 7.5
Performance 8.9
Technology Infotainment 8.2