New Crop of “Luxury” SUVs Miss the Mark

James Kraus

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Bentley Bentayga

The staff ensconced here atop Auto Universum Tower has no love for SUVs; they are clunky, ill-proportioned and have to be climbed into. Once ensconced, one’s melon is tossed left and right, forward and back like a bobblehead doll due to the vertiginous seating position. When parked, they block pedestrian sightlines, turning sidewalks into tunnels. Nevertheless, when we gaze down upon the busy streets far below, they seem quite common now, and have recently been cause for mirth here at the office. 

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Jaguar F-Pace

Bentley, Jaguar and Maserati have now waded into the luxury SUV waters, but their craft do not seem quite sea-worthy. They are expensive to be sure, but that alone does not qualify them as luxury. True luxury is an attitude, a way of life; a lifestyle that few auto industry insiders grasp. Ever run into an automotive exterior designer or brand manager at your yacht club?

You see those dreadful things on the roofs of these pretenders? Yes, those are roof rails that seem to be fitted to every Bentayga and most F-Paces and Levantes. These are meant to facilitate fastening one’s suitcases, unassembled IKEA bookcases, canoes and whatnot atop the roof of the vehicle.

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Maserati Levante

The problem is; the rich don’t do luggage, and they don’t hoist things onto roofs. Most would have not a clue as to where their help stores the requisite stepstool. They retain household staff to mess about with things like baggage and sporting gear. Often this sort of paraphernalia is sent ahead. It’s not considered normal among the gentry to drive around with possessions strapped to the vehicle in the manner of The Beverly Hillbillies.

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Sleek-roofed Range Rover

The only manufacturer that understood this from day-one is Land Rover. Their range-topping Range Rover has never been afflicted with rooftop bridgework. Perhaps it is due to the Queen being ferried about in Range Rovers from time to time. It wouldn’t do to have royalty transported in a vehicle with roof rails up top securing cases of scepters, crown jewels and Royal Standards.

Porsche is meanwhile is getting wise; the Cayenne is being shown more and more in official photos without the usual rooftop eyesores, nor do they deface their new Panamera Sport Turismo.

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Wagon-Queen Family Truckster in National Lampoon’s Vacation, 1983

Nothing conjures visions of Family Truckster quite as deftly as a pair of roof rails.