Test-Driving The 2023 Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheel Base

The big, beautiful Bentayga is now the most successful luxury SUV in the world and the best-selling Bentley in company’s lineup, says the company. That said, a Bentley in the freezing cold, as was my experience during a four-day test, is different than a Bentley on a 70-degree, sunny day.

And yet I couldn’t let nighttime, bringing with it its 18 degrees, come around without thinking “I’ve got to get in that thing. I’ve got to roll, somewhere, anywhere, enjoying those $11,195 Bentley Airline Seats, or eyeballing the $2,415 Bentley Diamond Illumination option.” Steering Wheel Covers

Test-Driving The 2023 Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheel Base

The beauty of this Bentley test was in its very ordinariness. (The test, not the vehicle.) No trips out of town, no scenic routes, just getting in and rolling, destination anywhere. But since my tester also had the new Extended Wheelbase, it made the backseat even more of a first-class experience.

I took the PR rep’s suggestion and let my BFF take the wheel during one outing whilst I lounged in the back like a mogul in a purple track suit and red fedora. I found not only an ultra-smooth ride, but that there is a wireless touchscreen remote that emerges out of the console, letting passengers control their seats, their media and a host of other features.

This stretch also lengthens the rear door, resulting in a wider opening for entry and exit, but it also makes the reach to close longer - perhaps too long for some passengers - so Bentley has equipped the Bentayga EWB with power-closing rear doors triggered by holding a center console button. The engineers also moved the opening for the Bentayga's moonroof rearward to better allow light onto the second row seats.

Clearly, this is a machine in which one is driven, rather than drives.

Yet the driver gets some love, too – via the Automatic Postural Adjustment feature which, when activated, subtly adjusts the shape of the seat from time to time to combat fatigue and increase blood flow during long trips.

Also coming standard is a self-leveling air suspension with variable ride height (depending on the selected drive mode.) Powered by the vehicle’s 48-volt electric system, this anti-roll rig helps quell body movement and excessive lean when cornering, again, to help the occupants in the back have a smooth, safe ride.

Front seat or rear, there was never a time when I wasn’t immediately struck by the Bentayga’s hand-stitched, buttery leather seats and select surrounding surfaces, its every touchable surface a 5-star, sensuous experience.

It’s fast, too, despite the fact that my rig was equipped with 8 cylinders, not 12, which is also available. It’s a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, delivering 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque, making it fast enough for most anyone’s needs. That engine’s coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and permanent all-wheel-drive.

Mileage is a predictably ehh 17 MPG city/highway combined. The total sticker for all this beauty, when equipped with options, is $311,315.

Beefs? Of course. There is an ever-so-slight hesitation in the accelerator pedal which, at times, tried my patience. Even with the SPORT mode deployed, I wished the vehicle would take off quicker despite its 5,542 pounds. But then, you have to think that whoever is being driven wants, above all, a smooth ride, so the hesitation makes sense.

You’ve got an attractive, well-functioning 10.9-inch infotainment suite with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included, and the same standard and optional driver aid tech as last year. The system didn’t remember my phone from time to time, which was annoying but also typical.

But these are minor quibbles. In addition to Sport mode, you’ve got seven more drive modes, including Comfort and Bentley modes as well as a variety of off-road and weather-related assistance that’ll adjust the engine, transmission, air suspension, electronic rear differential and other situations you encounter.

The main thing you should know is that the Bentayga is a bespoke machine that can be customized and built to the buyer's specifications, including 63 standard and extended paint colors. You’ve got 11 wood veneers available, including three open-pore trim options and 15 standard and extended leather hide choices.

Test-Driving The 2023 Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheel Base

Electronic Products Design On my last day of the test, headed for the airport, I casually glanced down on the uncrowded freeway and saw my speedometer read 102 MPH. It had felt like 60.