Ultra-luxe SUVs pamper both drivers and passengers

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ByDave Kunz via KABC logo
Thursday, November 19, 2020
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Meet the new Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 and Bentley Bentayga, two ultra-luxury models for 2021.

As SUVs became more popular, Range Rovers became the go-to luxury SUV for many athletes, celebrities and others. As more luxury was engineered in over the years, prices sometimes broke through the six-figure barrier. Prices for the 2021 full-size Range Rover vary from $92,000 to $211,000.

And now, that six-figure barrier is routinely broken through by a growing number of ultra-luxe sport utility vehicles. For 2021 the $160,000 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 arrives. That storied Maybach name was previously only used on sedans, but tastes change.

"The SUVs are extremely important to Mercedes-Benz, but now we saw an opportunity here to enter that ultra-luxury market, with the GLS 600 Maybach.," said Paul Harmon, brand manager at Mercedes-Benz USA.

While based on the Mercedes-Benz GLS, that one has three rows of seats. The Maybach version only has two rows, to provide a sumptuous place to be a rear passenger. The thing is, the big plush SUV is also really engaging from behind the wheel. Its nimbleness belies its size and nearly 6000 lb curb weight due to a sophisticated electronic air suspension system.

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"We make sure that this car is extremely fun to drive. But it's also fun to be driven in," added Harmon.

If you ever get a chance to try out the rear seat in a GLS 600, you can definitely feel like a pampered celebrity back there.

There are actually few options with this big luxury beast. Mainly, customers will choose their two-tone paint scheme, and what color for the interior. There is an optional "champagne chiller" and custom champagne flutes for the rear seat. (Champagne not included.)

Sure, Range Rover got the ultra-luxury SUV segment going. But that's a brand of only SUVs. The first high-end car brand to dive into the segment was Bentley.

Their Bentayga SUV model was launched in 2016, and they started showing up in fashionable ZIP codes everywhere. Step inside one, and even if there were no logos you might easily tell you're in a Bentley. Very posh, as they say, for a starting price of $177,000.

On the outside, an updated look for 2021, for a closer resemblance to Bentley's Continental. Sure, it still looks like an SUV, but it definitely looks like a Bentley too.

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And this legendary British brand will let you plug in as well, with the Bentayga Hybrid. You can travel up to 30 miles gas-free, and this is where Bentley is headed in the future. The company recently promised to be all-electric by 2030. Not just hybrids, but no internal combustion engines at all by then. Bentley executives announced this in a global news conference.

Now depending on where you live, you may actually never see one of these super-high-end SUVs on the road. That's partially by design.

"We really want to manage that volume. Keep it low, keep it ultra-exclusive," noted Paul Harmon of Mercedes-Benz USA regarding the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600.