If you read my regular Hooniverse reviews, you know that I test a lot of crossovers and SUVs. I’ve had a dozen come through my press loaner pool since June of this year. However, when Lamborghini asked me if I wanted to drive their SUV, the obvious answer was yes. Hell yes. The catch was that said SUV, the Urus, was only available in New York City and I had a 400 mile driving limit over four days. I immediately dispensed with any thoughts of staying in the city, no what this test needed was some space. So I rang up the good folks at Getaway, and asked if I could park a Lamborghini in front of one of their tiny houses for a long weekend in the Catskills. They obliged, and I was off for what, unsurprisingly I suppose, turned out to be an amazing weekend.
But first, some background on what Lamborghini calls a Super Sport Utility Vehicle (SSUV?). A “urus” is the ancestor of modern domestic cattle, so while this one isn’t named after a famous bull, it aligns with their normal naming convention. It’s a clever lens in which to view the Urus SSUV. Domestic cattle aren’t necessarily fierce or intimidating like a raging bull, they generally meander about eating grass. Lamborghini harnessed the practicality and functionality of an SUV, but built in some bull DNA. It’s intended to go anywhere, the marketing material says it’ll tackle “any road, from track to the sand, ice, gravel or rocks”.
The Urus first arrived at the Beijing Motor Show back in 2012, almost a decade ago. It was originally V10-powered, borrowing the 5.2 L V10 engine from the Gallardo. The production version arrived for the 2018 year but instead it had a 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8, which was adapted from cousin Audi’s 4.0L V8. Lest you think the Urus is a shrinking violet, the Urus pumps out 641 horsepower. More on what that feels like in real life in a bit.
Lamborghini used extensive carbon fiber reinforced polymer underneath, so while it shares a platform with the the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne, and Volkswagen Touareg, the similarities aren’t as significant as you might think. The chassis, suspension, and all the critical go-fast bits are upgraded. The Urus has a massive set of carbon ceramic disc brakes with 17.32 inch discs in the front and 14.57 inch discs in the rear. If that’s not crazy enough, it has ten-piston calipers at the front and single-piston calipers at the rear. The AWD system benefits from adaptive air suspension and active roll stabilization. This helps the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Urus, it can easily go from low-slung supercar to high riding off-roader with the touch of a button.
All this comes at a premium, however. During my time in the Urus, I had a number of people ask “how much” to which I replied “about a quarter million, and no it’s not mine”. Here, check it out.
The base price of $218,233.00 is daunting, but remember that the average Urus buyer probably already owns a Lamborghini Huracán and likely and Aventador (at a minimum, that’s just their Lambo hardware). After I escaped New York City, I passed a New Jersey Lamborghini dealer selling a color matched Urus and Huracán, both parked out front. Two for one special, probably not. Our test car carried another $25,453 in options plus a nearly $4,000 destination fee.
So, what’s all this like to experience on a long weekend in the mountains? Let’s get into it.
The Urus comes in a massive variety of colors including solids, metallics, pearlescent, and even some matte options. Our test car was finished in “Blu Eleos” which is very pretty, but doesn’t really make it stand out in a crowd as much as some of the others. Candidly I was hoping that it would be some sort of in-your-face yellow, orange, or maybe lime green. I had one commentor on Twitter note that the 3/4 view from behind made it look like a lot of other more anonymous crossovers. I’ll admit, the quick pics I took (above, bottom left and right) walking up to it on 31st street near Penn Station don’t do it justice.
The front is easily the Urus’ strongest angle, the folks at Sant’Agata Bolognese did an amazing job giving it just the right amount of attitude, while not falling into the trap of trying to make it look exactly like an existing sports car (looking at you Porsche, we all remember the first generations of the Cayenne and Panamera). There are details everywhere, especially up front. The geometric shapes and angles are cool and carry over to the interior. It’s a bit busy, which will likely offend some purists who like simple design. I’m not one of them, if anything I want my Lambo SUV to have rocket launchers and deployable spikes. The Urus tows the line nicely between crazy supercar and staid crossover. Let’s check out the interior, it’s quite a thing.
The interior is another story, there was never a time that I got into the Urus that I didn’t think “OK, that’s cool”. It feels special, its made of impressive materials, and it’s just fun. All start-stop buttons should be covered with a missile-launcher style cover. In fact, any button that automakers want to make a bit more fun is OK with me. We’ve migrated so far into convenience and minimalism that we’ve taken some of the theater and entertainment out of the driving experience.
That’s not to say that it’s incredibly intuitive. I was able to find the reverse button (grab the lever at the top and pull) and then I got confused. I was waiting for that crucial break in NYC traffic to happen, but I wasn’t finding “drive”. A nod to the supercar here though, Lamborghini simply wants you to pull the right paddle to engage the transmission. Something that I would have immediately thought of in a Huracán that slipped my mind in the Urus.
The interior is incredibly comfortable, and perhaps I’m comparing it against more plebian crossovers, but everything was first rate. The seats are phenomenal, managing to be supportive without being too firm or hip-hugging. There are plenty of spots for stuff, though the center console is pretty shallow. Overall, the infotainment system is simple and functional with tabs down the side for commonly used features. As an iPhone user, I basically just had it in CarPlay mode whenever I was driving.
I got some feedback from my wife about the lack of feedback. I was on the Jersey side of the Lincoln tunnel, slightly less scared for my life (and the well-being of the super expensive super SUV) when the phone rang. The connection was rated as easily the best she’s heard with regard to clarity. It apparently sounded like I was in the next room, which has not been the case with a lot of in-car phone connections.
It’s a pretty practical thing too, while I didn’t have a ton of gear with me, I was never wanting for more room. I didn’t get a chance to ride in the back, but the rear legroom was impressive. Rear cargo room was pretty solid as well, a robust 21.8 cu. ft. of space with the back seats in place. In fact, I had plenty of space to utilize the Urus as a short respite from a passing rainstorm that cropped up while was out reading by the fire.
Overall, it’s not only comfortable, but cool, and that’s hard to find these days. Now let’s drive this bitch.
You didn’t make it all this way without wanting to hear a down and dirty explainer on how this thing drives. The quick answer is “amazing, in just about every situation”. You get tons of drive modes, and in most cars the changes between each aren’t all that evident. In the Urus, they are night and day. The “Anima” lever will toggle between Strada (street), Sport (uh..sport), Corsa (track), Terra (dirt), Sabbia (sand), and Neve (snow) driving modes. The levers are a little Italian in it’s ergonomics, they only move back towards you, so to get from Sport to Strada for example, you have to cycle through all the modes.
The other lever on the opposite side controls drivetrain, steering, and suspension settings and is aptly called “Ego”. This lets you more thoroughly tailor the Urus to your needs. Want it to be super loud, but with cushy suspension? You can do it. Out on the road, there is literally a setting for any scenario.
Strada is a pussycat, the Urus will doddle through NYC stop-and-go traffic without making hardly a sound. It’s quiet, it’s comfortable, it’s like driving a normal luxury SUV. I actually pulled away from the train station in Strada and had a brief moment of “hmm, that’s it”? Thankfully Sport turns up the noise a bit without being overbearing, just some pops and burbles on the exhaust overrun. If you want a fun “driving-around-town with some noise” mode, Sport is great.
Then there’s Corsa.
Corsa is a lunatic. It’s the crazy Italian uncle who is hitting on your girlfriend and talking much louder at the family BBQ than he thinks he is. The thing is, it’s intoxicating, just like your uncle (well, I guess that’s intoxicated). The Urus revs very hard in Corsa, but it doesn’t just mathematically bump up the revs a couple hundred RPMs like more pedestrian sport modes, it becomes an entirely different car. Lamborghini says it’s for the track, but I found myself selecting it almost every time I drove. It would drop the suspension lower to the ground and it’s programmed to hang out in just about any gear much longer than normal than you expect. And when it downshifted under braking, it sounded like a symphony. OK, maybe like a Metallica symphony, but a symphony nevertheless. Driving through the small town of Woodstock, I noticed that it was full of Audi Club drivers who had clearly stopped for lunch. So I let the twin-turbo V8 burble openly through town at low speed, keeping it in first or second, the sound of exploding petrol likely offending some of the locals sense of environmental consciousness. Regardless, Corsa is a treat, every performance car should hope for such a setting. I recently passed on a new car purchase that I expected to be 100% sold on, mostly because it was too quiet.
Those last three drive modes (Terra, Sabbia, and Neve) are only available on the off-road package ($3,827.00). That package also get steel reinforcement on the bumpers with stainless steel skid plates and brushed steel tailpipes to go along with the air suspension adjustments to the Urus’ ride height. Choosing the off-road modes will rapidly raise the suspension. I used it on a backwoods off-road trail and the Urus never so much as lost it’s footing. Now, this wasn’t particularly technical, there were no rocks for example, but it trudged through the mud with ease. Plus, driving back to the city with a mud-splattered Urus was entertaining.
It’s an Experience
If asked to give a quick summary of the best part about my long weekend in the mountains with a Lamborghini, it was definitely watching people watch the Urus. The tiny house rocked as well. I only made it a handful of blocks before a guy in a GLS Mercedes asked me what I thought and wondered if maybe it was “too small” for him. Yeah, maybe that was it, not the $250K price tag.
I took it through the McDonalds drive-thru and an employee that clearly liked cars pushed his way past the person delivering my chicken sandwich and said “That’s really cool”. A dude in an electric wheelchair jerked the stick to the left and spun around on the sidewalk in rural NY to get a better look. Parking it amongst normal cars was always a trip, people would walk by and almost stop, but then realized it was awkward and kept going.
Out on the road, it’s impossible not to get some unwanted attention. Anyone in something approaching a performance vehicle will pull up alongside and make loud shouty engine noises. Occasionally I would pull it into Corsa and rocket away. It delivers such a viscerally fun driving experience that it’s impossible to remember that you’re in an SUV. The taller ride height is the only giveaway, unless you look over your shoulder. Speaking of that, visibility out the back isn’t amazing, but nothing important is back there anyway. Plus it’s still better than any supercar. Life is always ahead of you when you are driving a Urus, and it’s something I’d love to experience every day.
[Disclaimer: Lamborghini tossed us the keys to the Urus and included a full tank of petrol. Getaway let us crash in one of their tiny houses in the Eastern Catskills too. The matching Hot Wheels Urus was on us!]