Road Tripping With The 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB SUV
Carving up California coasts and mountains in Bentley’s extra-large, extra-luxe Bentayga SUV.
Weeks before the official press drive, Bentley saddled me up with a Bentayga EWB—their largest, most luxurious SUV to date—and pointed me north on the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to the Monterey Peninsula.
What ensued was an introduction to Bentley’s latest philosophy of performance, luxury and well-being. Those core traits come together to make the Bentayga EWB one of the most impressive SUVs on the planet.
With the scenic beauty of the Pacific Ocean in my peripheral, I gently fist-bumped the iconic B emblem to open the EWB’s lift gate, loaded my luggage into the ample trunk, took my seat behind the wheel and began my routine fidgeting with the many features and personalizations of the Bentayga.
I’ve noted this in my previous experience with Bentleys; there are a LOT of settings and features to customize before even thinking about putting the car into gear. This Bentley-specific pre-journey checklist shouldn’t be ignored. Drive mode to Sport. Check. Cooling seats turned up high. Check. iPhone hooked into CarPlay. Check. 100 mph playlist thumping on the Naim audio system. Check. Massaging seat routine from shoulders to butt. Check. And that’s just for the driver seat.
When it was first introduced, the Bentayga EWB was very clearly a car that was meant to chauffeur its owner. My own experience with the car solidified that fact. While both rear captain’s chairs are certainly comfy, the one behind the passenger seat is the pièce de résistance of the EWB.
Bentley calls it an “airline seat” but they’re not talking about Southwest Airlines when they do. In reality, it should be called the throne. It’s spacious. It’s comfortable. It’s surrounded by everything anyone could need whether they were road-tripping up the California coast or making deals on their daily commute to the office. I’ve enjoyed the comforts of working from home but I would trade all the pantsless zoom calls in the world to work from the backseat of a Bentayga EWB.
The detachable rear touchscreen remote gives the lucky person in the throne complete control of the car’s comfort systems. Climate, media, footrest and flatscreen display controls are a given, but the EWB has three unique new systems that set it apart from every previous Bentayga made.
Tucked into the menus are options to control lighting, including Bentley’s latest LED tech sewn directly into the plush leather door panels. Then there are the auto-climate seat controls that use embedded sensors to read your body temp and adjust seat heating or cooling accordingly.
Finally, there’s the postural adjustment system that uses 177 pressure adjustments across six zones on a three hour cycle to alleviate fatigue because parking your ass in one of the most comfortable car seats ever made can still be a pain after a few hours.
Yes, the throne firmly makes the EWB a car to be driven in rather than a car to drive but, even so, it’s no slouch on the road. Fit snugly under the hood is Bentley’s 4.0-liter V8 engine, delivering an unexpected quickness to this punched out SUV.
I was able to put the EWB through the paces on the winding cliffside roads of Big Sur and it absolutely ate them up. Despite its extra length, the EWB cornered and handled hairpins like a much smaller car. Credit for that goes to rear wheel steering unique to the EWB and Bentley’s dynamic ride tech, which is standard on this oversized beauty.
Bentley vehicles have a heaviness to them that disguises the sensation of speed. Going 100 mph in a Bentley feels like 60 mph in most other cars and the EWB is no exception. It’s tight, it’s fast and, despite its size and thanks to some clever engineering, it’s agile. Though it would have been interesting for Bentley to put its historic W12 engine into its flagship Bentayga, I was impressed with the V8’s ability to kick out power on demand.
From the oceanside traffic of LA to the dusty mountains of San Luis Obispo to my final destination—the legendary Laguna Seca racetrack for the kickoff of Monterey Car Week—the Bentley Bentayga EWB was a wonderful road trip companion that delivered comfort as a default and adrenaline when I wanted it. Or maybe that was because I took some laps on the track with the EWB before I gave back the keys and started my car week…where Bentley had a few more surprises lined up.