Reviewing a Rolls-Royce is a rare treat for an automotive journalist, but it's also a challenge because the regular rules of everyday cars and SUVs don't really apply. For example, the price of the Launch Edition option package exceeds the total purchase price of most SUVs we review in this space, and the total price of the Cullinan could also buy you a pretty nice house in most of the United States.
To skip to the bottom line: the Cullinan is the first-ever SUV from Rolls-Royce, and if you want the Rolls-Royce experience in an SUV, this vehicle is where you must find it, because that experience is not even approached by any other luxury SUV manufacturer.
The difference starts with the basic construction. The Cullinan is supremely quiet inside, and it rides like a cloud over our rough Portland streets. Riding in the Cullinan is perfectly comfortable for all passengers, from the lush lamb's wool floor mats to the heated and cooled leather upholstery embossed with Rolls' signature "Spirit of Ecstasy" emblem. The front seats also offer massage as you drive.
In the past, we've reviewed a variety of Rolls-Royce cars, and the driving experience in the Cullinan is mostly similar. You'll enjoy what the Rolls-Royce people call "effortless performance," which means that twin-turbo V12 is always ready to move the Cullinan along quickly. Then the all-wheel-drive system will allow you to drive to places where you probably shouldn't go in a luxury SUV. The Cullinan further adds adjustable ride height to the suspension so you actually stand a chance of making it back again.
In city and highway driving, you'll notice the Cullinan's size and weight. That cloud-comfortable ride feels vague in cornering. Unlike some of the Cullinan's competitors from Bentley or Land Rover, there's no attempt to make this SUV handle like a sports car. That's not what the Cullinan is about.
The Cullinan is about comfort, but it's also a leader in connectivity and technology, implemented in the grand style you expect from Rolls-Royce. The dashboard has gone all electronic, with a 12.3-inch driver information display and a separate 10.25-inch infotainment system. Rolls-Royce also includes a head-up display on the windshield, and night vision assistance with pedestrian detection. That's on top of every other kind of advanced safety and tech feature available in the industry today, from adaptive cruise control to voice-control for all navigation, phone, and entertainment functions.
If you get the chance to get up close to the 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan, you can see what's possible in a luxury SUV when all limits are removed. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly impressive.
2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan
Base price: $330,000
Price as tested: $394,275
Type: Full size SUV
Engine: 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V12 (571 hp, 627 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 12/20
Overall length: 210 inches
Curb weight: 6,069 pounds
Final assembly: Chichester, Great Britain
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