Motor Trend - - Contents - Zach Gale

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

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