2023 Bentley Bentayga Towing Review: Putting a $300K Ultra-Luxury SUV To Work
We tested a twin-turbo V8 Bentley in ways that most owners never will. Still, we did it for the people.
Let's get this out of the way right now: Nobody is buying a 2023 Bentley Bentayga S to work it. It might seem like they gave the twin-turbo SUV a max tow rating just for laughs, but after testing one for hundreds of miles with multiple trailers, I can confidently say that ain't the case. It's certifiably silly to hitch up and head out through the Ozark hills with a British ultra-luxury vehicle hooked to a side-by-side or horse trailer, but I'll be danged if it isn't fun.
Six-figure pickup trucks are a flex, but few tow rigs can touch the Bentayga when it comes to status. Sure, it's no Super Duty, but a Blue Oval is no Bentley, either. It can actually tow more than a Ford Ranger, and I assure you that truck doesn't have massaging seats. The trick to unlocking its full potential is using it like you aren't afraid.
My name is Caleb and I'm the man for the job. You can check my resume if you'd like, but just know I'm more familiar with dump trucks than highfalutin, high-dollar Hollywood rides like this. Still, I tested it just like I would any pickup, and I've got all the receipts to show how capable the Bentayga actually is at getting stuff done.
2023 Bentley Bentayga S Specs
- Base price (as tested): $233,825 ($299,715)
- Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 542 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 568 @ 1,960 rpm to 4,500 rpm
- Curb weight: 5,341 pounds
- Seating capacity: 5
- Max tow rating: 7,700 pounds
- 0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
- Top speed: 180 mph
- EPA fuel economy: 15 mpg city | 24 mpg highway | 18 mpg combined
- Quick take: Tow rigs don't get more boujee than a Bentayga S, and it can actually do the job, too.
- Score: 8/10
The Rig in Question
My tester was a masterfully spec’d 2023 Bentley Bentayga S in British Racing Green—pretty different from my ‘96 Ford F-350 that wears a coat of flaking white paint. Its twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 makes 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque, which is actually the same output as a normal Bentayga with that engine. What makes it a Bentayga S is its suspension tuning; it’s sportier and more capable around corners thanks to features like Bentley Dynamic Ride, an electronic anti-roll system that keeps the SUV flat as it’s tossed into turns.
As tested, this vehicle costs a cool $299,715 thanks to a whopping $65,890 in options. Yes, really. The Naim sound system was the most costly at $9,150 while the Bentley Styling Specification was a close second at $8,915. The latter adds a front splitter, side skirts with metallic Bentley badges, and a carbon fiber rear diffuser and spoiler. Most essential for our experiment was the fixed tow bar, a $1,240 add-on.
Needless to say, it’s the only tow vehicle I’ve driven with a top speed of 180 mph. The door sill sticker indicates a gross vehicle weight rating of 7,170 pounds, as well as gross axle weight ratings of 3,530 pounds for the front and 4,080 pounds for the rear. All of those exceed that of a Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, or pretty much any truck short of a full-size.
The Big Idea
The entire objective of my test was to see how the Bentayga performs as a work vehicle. That meant it not only had to hold up to my family of four but also a pair of trailers. Both were between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds and while they were close in weight, they were drastically different in terms of handling characteristics due to their aerodynamics (or lack thereof).
I know this test is unorthodox, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic. Just look at what I towed: a $45,000 Polaris RZR Pro R 4 Ultimate and a horse trailer. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone with Bentley money had either one of those or—who am I kidding—both.
No corners were cut and no breaks were given. The Bentayga had to pull each trailer on the often bumpy, always hilly roads where I live in Southwest Missouri without flinching. It did so while also carrying me, my wife, and our two kiddos around.
Hitching Up and Heading Out
First up was the Polaris RZR Pro R, which I loaded onto a 16-foot utility trailer. I was a little nervous when it came time to do this because it was a $350,000 setup and I didn’t own either rig—the UTV was a press loan, too. Even still, the Bentayga acted normally as I drove the RZR onto the trailer, squatting some in the process with much of the weight resting on the tongue. However, it raised up as soon as I plugged in the seven-pin connector. Air suspension … what a thing.
Even more happened inside the cabin as when I sat in the driver’s seat, I found that the Bentayga had performed a trailer light test. It checked both blinkers, brake lights, and tail lights to make sure everything was road-ready. That’s something you might expect from a new F-150, but from a Bentley? That’s pretty neat. It’s almost like it was built to do this.
After quadruple-checking my safety chains and saying a quick prayer, I hit the two-lane highway. I drove slowly—about 10 mph under the speed limit—as I hit the first series of twists and turns less than a mile from my house. With a bluff to my right and Big Sugar Creek to my left, I was cautious while the Bentayga quickly built up my confidence. That stretch of road is notorious where I live for being rough, and wrecks aren’t uncommon, but everything was smooth from the driver’s seat as the SUV took every bump in stride.
My first stop was the Longview Feed Mill, partially because I wanted to show my friends who work there what I was driving and also because I knew they had a scale. I pulled onto it with the trailer attached first, and the number “9,740” flashed on the display inside the building. It was then time to ditch the trailer and pull across the scale empty, which resulted in a weight of 5,560 pounds. That meant my trailer was 4,180 pounds—a good deal shy of the Bentayga’s 7,700-pound limit but still a respectable (and realistic) load.
I was almost disappointed it wasn’t heavier—the RZR Pro R 4 is the heftiest UTV on the market, and I wasn’t sure about the trailer’s unladen weight—but all was well. We took off once the trailer was hooked up again, catching a few funny looks as we pulled out of the gravel lot. Next up was a Love’s truck stop, which just so happened to have a CAT scale around back. I thought it’d be good to confirm the feed mill scale’s accuracy and also log some wheel time in the Bentayga since it was a 73-mile roundtrip.
This is where the car was tested most, dragging the trailer up and down hills that usually started or ended with big, swooping curves. With speed limits ranging from 35 to 55 mph, I kept the throttle on most of the time to see how the Bentley’s acceleration was affected by all that weight. The short answer is: not much. It pulls hard—not quite like a modern diesel pickup, but certainly swifter than a regular half-ton. Braking was stress-free, too, thanks to the ventilated discs up front.
I was most impressed by the Bentayga’s stability during this test. The trailer never caused the ride to become unsettled, which we in the world of trucks like to refer to as “the tail wagging the dog.” Its air suspension kept things totally level and the ride was firm yet controlled. That’s where a Bentley differs from some other high-luxury marques; the suspension isn’t so compliant that you’ll be put to sleep because a proper Bentley has to handle corners as well as it accelerates. As it turns out, that ethos applies well to towing trailers, too.
Rolling across the CAT scales confirmed the accuracy of the feed mill’s scale, and it also provided a pretty sweet photo op.
We took the interstate from there, maintaining about 65 mph most of the way home. The Bentayga would’ve been just fine at 75 or 80 mph but I wasn’t trying to test the top speed. Realtime fuel economy improved some on this stretch, and the computer showed the overall average was around 10.4 mpg for the trip. Not horrible considering the trailer weight, terrain, and speed changes.
Unloading the trailer was even easier than loading it as I walked around back, took off the safety chains, unplugged the connector, and popped the trunk. The Bentayga S has a pair of buttons in the back that allow you to raise or lower the suspension almost instantly. Once the hitch latch was undone, I pressed the bottom button and aired out the suspension so the trailer jack could handle it from there. Now that’s luxury.
Now Let’s Do It Again
Since the first test went so well, I decided to do it again with another type of trailer. I wanted something heavier—maybe we could pull our 44-hp Kubota tractor or my dad’s ‘79 Bronco? In mulling it over with my neighbor, he said, “Why don’t you pull my horse trailer?” That was a great idea, I reckoned, so I rang Bentley and got the greenlight.
The only stipulation was that, for liability reasons, we couldn’t tow any real-life horses. “No big deal,” I said. Next thing I know, we’re at his farm hitching up to a 2007 Elite Trailers three-horse slant. Even though it was unloaded, I figured it was at least a little heavier. To find out for sure, we cruised back over to the feed mill and got an exact weight: 4,700 pounds.
Again, we were still well within the Bentayga’s limits. The horse trailer pulled differently, though, likely because of its boxy shape. It acted more like a sail than the RZR did, catching tons of wind and working against the car more noticeably.
The route was shorter this time around as I towed the horse trailer to Wheaton, Missouri, a few towns over. Even still, the 25-mile loop was enough to get a good feel for how the Bentley performed with a different load behind it. Sway was still minimal, though the up-and-down jostling was worse than with the UTV. This might’ve been better if there were horses over the trailer’s axles to level out the load, but with the weight mostly resting on the hitch, it was less smooth. I’ve certainly felt worse, so don’t take it too harshly. A new Toyota Tundra with a single-axle Airstream behind it is still bouncier than this.
After snapping a few more photos that look straight out of an episode of Clarkson’s Farm, I left the horse trailer behind. My time towing in the Bentayga was over, and my life was richer because of it.
Is It Worth It? Let Me Work It
Everything about the Bentayga S is extra, especially if you’re used to more modest rides like I am. You certainly can’t get this type of panache in a pickup (even though the highest-optioned Super Dutys do offer massaging seats). The winged badge carries more weight than many others, and it turns out that it can also pull more weight than you might expect with serious competence. That tow rating isn’t just there for laughs.
Between the intoxicating acceleration, surprisingly handy towing tech, and outright style of the Bentley, I wouldn’t blame anybody for buying one to pull their side-by-side, horse trailer, and sure, even their boat. A traditional truck may technically be better suited, but odds are if you’re in the market for a Bentayga S, utility isn’t first on your list—more like third or fourth. And that’s OK, because this SUV ought to focus on the finer things with its $300,000 price tag.
It’s hard for me to picture spending so much money in the first place, but if I had it, I’d probably spend it pretty quickly on a Bentayga S. It’s more refined than the Lamborghini Urus, more special than the Audi Q8, and a lot less common than the Porsche Cayenne, all of which ride on the same platform as this. I’d save some money by leaving a handful of option boxes unticked, knowing I’ll be too in love with the exhaust note to think about the $1,140 LED welcome lamps I skipped out on.
If you’re buying something specifically to tow your toys, there are more reasonable choices than this. But if you want something that will pin your noggin to the headrest, make other people look twice as you drive by, and still pull your ponies—this is the ticket. Just be careful not to get a ticket because it’s just that quick.
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