2021 Aston Martin DBX: Action-ready SUV
"Bond, James Bond. And these are the wife and kids."
There's no way to review the 2021 Aston Martin DBX without making a joke about the fictional super spy who made the British brand internationally famous. Of course, the actors all drove two-seater sport cars in their movies and the 2021 Aston Martin DBX is a four-door crossover SUV. But it is 100% Aston Martin, which means it's fast and handles like a race car — just the sort of vehicle James Bond would drive if he had a family, or Jane Bond if future filmmakers go full woke.
I got the DBX on short notice and didn't do any research before it arrived. Squat and powerful looking, with a rich leather interior and advanced technologies, I knew it must be expensive but was still surprised when the monroney said $227,786. The base price is "only" $180,500, however, and includes all the essentials, like the twin-turbocharged 542-horsepower 4.0-liter V8, nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, all-wheel-drive with an active transfer case, 22-inch alloy wheels and a high-performance braking system.
Prospective buyers can decide whether to spend the additional $47,286 for upgrades that include $2,700 for extended wood veneer trim and $1,100 for a designer key set. Personally, I'd rather make several years of house payments, although the $2,300 upgraded sports exhaust sounds great.
But the 2021 Aston Martin DBX is a fantasy for all but a relatively few, so being able to experience it for even a couple of days was a delight. Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds — a luxury five-seat SUV that looks stunning, rockets from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds, holds the road tenaciously, and brakes with enough force that seat belts are required to prevent injuries. But driven gently in the default GT mode, it is as quiet and refined as a "normal" luxury sedan.
Despite being much taller than the Aston Martin sports cars, the DBX still looks like them. It has the same distinctive front grill, flowing sides like, and an integrated rear spoiler like the Vantage. I've long though British manufacturers like Aston Martin, Triumph and Jaguar made the best looking cars. Even when Jaguar was owned by Ford and spurned by purists, the downsized models still retained their trademark styling.
The interior is equally Aston Martin, with high quality materials, including rich leather and, in our test version, additional wood and other trim. The front sport bucket seats were as supportive as those found in most sport cars. The only drawbacks were the transmission shift push buttons across the top of the dash that looked less than sporty and the infotainment system, which is a last generation Mercedes-Benz version that does not include a touch screen.
But once the DBX begins to roll, all of that is easily forgiven, especially when set in the highest-performing Sport and Sport+ modes. Practically all differences between sport cars and SUVs vanish under heavy acceleration and even cornering, where the all-wheel-drive system shines.
The DBX also has a Terrain mode and its body can be raised 1.77 inches for off-road driving, although I suspect few owners will actually spend much time away from pavement. But at least they can.
Most Aston Martins are named after David Brown, the British industrialist who purchased the carmaker in 1947 for just Â£20,500 after seeing it advertised for sale in a newspaper. The company has changed hands several times since then and is currently owned by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who is also part owner of the Aston Martin Formula 1 race team, where his talented son Lance is a driver.
The high-performance luxury SUV market was created by Porsche when it introduced the Cayenne, shocking purists but quickly becoming its best-selling vehicle. Now the competition is fierce, with Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz offering their own versions, and upstart Genesis undercutting them with the much more affordable GV80.
To stay competitive — at least performance wise — Aston Martin has now introduced the DBX 707 featuring a more powerful engine and even faster responding transmission. Personally, I don't know where the additional speed can ever be realized outside of James Bond movie chase scene, but the standard carbon-ceramic brakes could prove their worth given how other people drive.
2021 Aston Martin DBX
Base price: $180,500
Price as tested: $222,786
Type: Midsize luxury crossover SUV
Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 (542 hp, 516 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Drive modes: Terrain, GT, Individual, Sport, Sport+
EPA estimated mileage: 15/18
Overall length: 198.4 inches
Curb weight: 5128 pounds
Final assembly: St. Athan, Wales, England
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