THE SUV FOR THE FAMILY THAT HAS EVERYTHING
2019 Rolls-royce Cullinan The SUV for the family that has everything.
Off-roading isn’t usually so hushed an experience, yet as I traverse a rocky trail in Wyoming, the Rollsroyce Cullinan’s cabin makes a distinct impression. While the driver’s seat in this most opulent of SUVS gives me a massage, I peek out the windows to admire the Grand Tetons before regaining my focus, doing my part to maneuver a $330,350 SUV that’s half a foot longer than a standard Escalade.
Rolls-royce’s first all-wheel-drive vehicle is a 210.3-inch-long SUV that shouldn’t make sense at all yet somehow feels true to the brand. An enormous 12-cylinder SUV is unnecessary (and perhaps overkill) for off-roading, but the Cullinan’s basic trail-ready credentials help justify its place in Rolls-royce’s lineup. Most American buyers wouldn’t dream of taking a super-luxury SUV offroad, but should such a situation present itself, simply press an off-road button to optimize the Cullinan’s performance for the trail that leads to your survival bunker—ahem, alpine hideaway.
First impressions are strong: The imposing presence of the Ghost and Phantom extends naturally to an SUV. The rear hatch features a ledge at the base of the window, meant to evoke the “bustle back” look of early 20th century cars that were essentially two-box designs with a removable trunk. From the side, Rolls-royce’s distinctive front-mounted rear-door handles catch your eye, as does the thick stainless steel trim that extends in one piece from the base of the D-pillar over the top of the doors to the A-pillar.
In the U.S., 22-inch wheels will be standard, with 21s and winter tires offered. Unless you need winter tires, stick with one of the 22-inch options to maximize your entrance every time you approach your footman. Even with the larger wheels, the Cullinan retains the smooth ride you expect of a Rolls-royce. In addition to the updated self-leveling air suspension, the 563-hp, 627-lb-ft V-12, eight-speed automatic transmission, and brakes are tuned for smoothness.
Even with four-wheel steering, the Cullinan carries itself with a heaviness that communicates its preference for a more comfortable pace. Want a sporty six-figure super-luxury SUV? Get a Lamborghini Urus. But if your goal is total comfort in a spacious, isolated interior, the far more expensive Cullinan may be a better fit. Rolls-royce expects most Cullinan owners to drive themselves—something you wouldn’t find as often in the Phantom.
Once inside, front and rear passengers need only press and hold a switch and watch as the door pulls itself shut. Upon exiting, press a button on the door, and the door shuts itself. Not having to close the door manually deprives you of the opportunity to caress the especially solidfeeling stainless steel door handles.
Rolls’ level of brand prowess can’t make up for the Cullinan’s lack of Apple Carplay—a feature that, no matter your tax bracket, facilitates audio, navigation, and text messaging functions. Rolls-royce is waiting for Apple software to work from the rear-seat touchscreens as well as from the front seats, a valid excuse—although wealthy people usually don’t like to hear excuses, only solutions. Still, rear-seat
The imposing presence of the Ghost and Phantom extends naturally to an SUV.
passengers may be too impressed by the view from the large side windows to notice this infotainment lapse.
Other niggles: Lane departure merely warns about center-line incursions but doesn’t keep the SUV centered. Also, the metal trim on the doors and center console are harshly reflective; you could focus instead on the huge wood trim panels and leather headliner around the edges of the panoramic roof.
Most U.S. buyers are expected to go for the Cullinan’s five-seat option—the three-across seating makes the Rollsroyce a family-ready option for those who find Bentaygas and Range Rovers too plebeian. A four-seat option with two reclining and massaging rear seats is also available.
As a first SUV offering, Rolls-royce has largely delivered with the Cullinan. It absolutely deserves its place in the garage next to the rest of the family fleet. n