The best way to see the North Shore Mountains surrounding Vancouver is by seaplane. A single-prop puddle jumper will get you within 500 feet of the snow-covered peaks, providing some of the most ridiculously beautiful views western Canada has to offer.
If you want to stay landborne, however, your next best option is driving the Sea-To-Sky Highway. This gorgeous piece of pavement snakes through the fir forests north from Vancouver for more than 200 miles, passing waterfalls and skirting glacier lakes in the process.
The 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB – short for extended wheelbase – makes that drive all the more captivating, if that's even possible. Boasting an extra 7.2 inches between the axles compared to the standard 'Tayga and, by extension, an additional 7.2 inches of legroom for the second row, seaplanes ain't got nothing on this luxury SUV.
|2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB
|Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-Liter V8
|542 Horsepower / 568 Pound-Feet
You might be shocked to hear that there's nothing radically different about the Bentayga EWB visually. Designers say they kept the changes "deliberately minimal," since the Bentayga is a lovely-looking luxury vehicle as it is. The vertical spokes in the grille and the 22-inch wheels are new, but that's about it.
This particular car looks especially pretty in Camel paint, but Bentley says there are 24 billion different Bentayga configurations – yes, that's billion with a "B." Still, the only obvious difference between this one and its SWB brother when looking from the outside is that massive rear door and the new 125.0-inch wheelbase (duh).
Although this is technically a "first drive," most of my best views were from the back seat – so more like a "first ride." And the EWB fixes one of the only problems with the regular Bentyga, which was limited legroom compared to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Mercedes-Maybach GLS, and Range Rover LWB.
By Bentley's measurements, the EWB has 2.7 more inches of rear legroom than the Range Rover LWB and 2.6 inches more than the Maybach GLS. But by SAE measurement standards, it's not the roomiest in the class; the 40.9 inches in the second row are below what Rolls, Mercedes, and Range Rover all offer.
Still, for a 6-foot human like myself, that's plenty of space to stretch out and get comfortable. And there's more to the rear seat than just that extra room; or as Bentley will tell you, "it's more than a stretch."
Although this is technically a "first drive," most of my best views were from the back seat – so more like a "first ride."
I plop my rump into the second row and press the door-close button in the center console, because why would I ever reach over and do it myself? While the back seat is beyond roomy, as expected, it also has some of the most advanced rear recliners available in any luxury car on the market today.
The so-called Airplane Seats feature 22-way power adjustability with postural adjustment technology that uses 177 individual pressure points to prevent you from getting too slouchy. Tick the automatic climate function and sensors in the seat read your body temperature every 25 milliseconds with an accuracy of 0.1 degrees Celsius, adjusting as needed. And a single click of the "VIP Mode" flings the front passenger seat forward creating maximum legroom – with a footrest mounted on the back of the front seat.
Although some of that high-comfort tech is invisible to the eye, I can feel it working. My body is perfectly cool, and for someone with chronic back issues, my posture never feels out of sorts. Fiddling with the iPhone Mini–sized tablet allows me to recline the rear chairs with ridiculous configurability; the VIP Mode reclines so far back that it’d be easy to fall asleep back here.
My drive partner basically had to shoehorn me out of the rear seat – mostly, I suspect, so he could sit in the second row himself. But there’s just as much to like behind the wheel.
The same twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 from the SWB carries over with 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. It takes the Bentayga EWB 4.5 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour, which is one-tenth of a second slower than the standard version. And if you find a long enough road, 180 miles per hour arrives eventually.
The twin-turbo V8 strikes an excellent balance between performance and luxury. Would this SUV be more interesting with a W12? Sure, any car would be (and who knows, maybe a W12 EWB could happen). But keep the EWB in Comfort mode and the throttle input is smooth and deliberate, the steering is easygoing, and there’s barely a whisper of engine noise in the cabin. Some of that quietness can be attributed to the acoustic glass.
Gallery: 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB First Drive Review
Once the Sea-To-Sky highway turns a bit trickier, I tick the drive mode over to Sport and there’s an immediate change in the throttle and steering. The Bentayga’s V8 reacts quicker and the steering offers weightier, snappier feedback in the corners. The 48-volt active anti-roll system does its best to keep the extra-long Bentley composed, but when pushed hard, the length and heft of the EWB model are noticeable. But most drivers probably won’t be pushing their ‘Taygas that hard, because how dare they chance jostling the important folks in back?
If your second home in Whistler has a long dirt driveway, the Bentayga EWB makes mince meat of dirt roads, too, with standard all-wheel drive and a few off-road modes. The drive mode selector in the center console has Trail and Mud modes that lift the air suspension to help keep the luxury SUV clear of rocks and obstacles. Better yet, the EWB actually has a tighter turning radius than the regular model thanks to its new rear-wheel steering.
Sitting in the front seat also gives me the chance to fiddle with the newfangled infotainment system, which joined the entire Bentayga range with the 2022 model year update. A handsome 10.9-inch touchscreen display graces the center console and it uses a Bentley-skinned version of Audi’s MMI software. That means graphics are crisp and everything is easy to navigate, while touch responsiveness is as quick as a smartphone.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard on the Bentayga for 2022, and there’s a digital instrument cluster that, again, borrows its software from Audi. But just like the central touchscreen, it has some luxury touches courtesy of Bentley that make it look even prettier.
Prepare For Takeoff
With any Bentayga, a luxurious cabin and a lovely drive are par for the course. But the Bentayga EWB’s Airline Seats take it up another notch with a second row that rivals Rolls-Royce and matches Maybach. We still don’t know how much the EWB costs, though, remember that the base Bentayga starts at around $160,000. Still, I’m confident the Bentayga EWB will be worth the price of admission. Now if only it could fly…
- Land Rover Range Rover LWB: Not Rated
- Mercedes-Maybach GLS: 9.5 / 10
- Rolls-Royce Cullinan: Not Rated
2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB