2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan
Rolls-Royce introduces its SUV with a literal splash
Posted on August 19, 2019
The official marketing theme for Rolls-Royce’s new Cullinan SUV is “Effortless Everywhere,” and the press literature goes on to assert that owners of this stately offering can “go anywhere in ultimate luxury.” While you’re unlikely to encounter a Cullinan at a rock-crawling venue like the famous Rubicon Trail (unless it was helicoptered in), Rolls-Royce invited a few reporters to drive over the sand dunes adjacent to Pismo Beach to demonstrate the vehicle’s off-road prowess.
A Surprising Arrival
Although the State of California Park Ranger may have been alerted about a gaggle of Cullinans arriving at his gate, he still had that look of astonishment when these $400,000+ Rolls-Royces showed up to traverse the dunes that are most often frequented by well-worn Jeeps and dune buggies. The ranger asked for a photo with a Cullinan and we obliged. It’s unlikely that an actual owner of Rolls-Royce will seek admission to the dunes anytime soon, which is not to suggest that Rolls-Royce is antithetical to venturing off the pavement. After all, back in
1904 when the company was founded, paved roads were an exception. And later, when there were such roads, royalty would take their sturdy machines into the wild for safaris.
We began our test drive in Beverly Hills at the lovely Peninsula Hotel. Although this legendary brand isn’t unique to Robertson Boulevard or Rodeo Drive, the new Cullinan received plenty of admiration from the well-heeled local population. Perhaps it’s the tall stature of the SUV proportions that evokes images of classic Rolls-Royce models. Especially the ones where the chauffer was allowed to sit inside the car.
I spent plenty of time performing the driving chores with a colleague in the right front seat and cigar aficionado Daniel Marshall in the back, entertaining us with stories of his life’s adventures. The Cullinan drives just like its Phantom cousin — composed and silky quiet but reminding the operator that you’re steering around a lot of machine. Of course, the same can be said of the big luxury SUVs, and for many buyers, all that girth creates a feeling of passive safety.
Industrial style materials have their place in some vehicles. No one should object to plastic parts in a Jeep Wrangler where hosing out the interior after a day’s mud crawling is done. But you will have to poke around the Cullinan interior with forensic purpose to discover parts that are not wood, wool, or leather. And the company routinely builds cars to owner’s bespoke specifications to allow uniqueness. I’ll take mine outfitted for tailgate parties to assure the Champagne is just the right temperature. Brian Douglas
2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan
Type: Front engine, all-wheel-drive
Engine: 6.75-liter V12
Horsepower: 563 @ 5,000-RPM
Torque: 627 lb.ft. @ 1,600-RPM
Base Price: $325,000
As Tested Price: $408,325
Fuel Consumption: 12 city, 20 highway, 14 combined
Photo by James Lipman