2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan First Look

The Ultimate Name in Luxury Gets a Lot Bigger

byMark Takahashi, Automotive Editor July 16th, 2018

For over 100 years, one carmaker has held its position as the pinnacle of luxury and prestige: Rolls-Royce. The latest addition to its lineup is both literally and figuratively big, as it marks the first SUV in the company's history. The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan embodies everything we've come to expect from an ultra-premium luxury vehicle, with a stately appearance, impeccable interior, and all of the trappings that the super wealthy desire.

The Cullinan is named after the largest diamond ever discovered (also known as the Star of Africa) that is now part of the crown jewels of the United Kingdom. After seeing the largest Rolls-Royce in person, the name certainly seems fitting. Prices will start at $350,000 when it goes on sale in late 2018. Under the hood is a 6.8-liter twin-turbocharged V12 that produces 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard, as is all-wheel steering to make it more maneuverable.

From the outside, the 2019 Cullinan is styled to fit perfectly into the Rolls-Royce portfolio. The modern signature grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament are unmistakable trademarks, as is the tapering hood that is reminiscent of past models. The powered and rear-hinged "suicide doors" for rear passengers are also historic character traits. Breaking with tradition, however, is the Cullinan's imposing stance and ground clearance that imbues it with real off-road capabilities. Rolls-Royce lists its maximum fording depth at 21 inches.

Compared to its most direct competitors, the Bentley Bentayga and the long-wheelbase Land Rover Range Rover, the Cullinan is both longer and wider. It measures 210 inches from nose to tail and 85 inches from side to side, which is between 6 and 8 inches longer and 3 to 7 inches wider than those rivals. More importantly, the 130-inch wheelbase is about 7 to 12 inches longer, giving the Cullinan a distinct advantage in rear passenger space.

The Cullinan's interior is emblematic of contemporary Rolls-Royce vehicles, combining classic design with the absolute best materials available and assembled by highly skilled craftspeople. There's plenty of modern technology — digital gauges, night vision, a head-up display and Wi-Fi hotspot — but it's all artfully integrated into the cabin so it doesn't detract from the traditional ambiance.

Many would contend that the rear seats are the most important aspect of a Rolls-Royce, and here the Cullinan exceeds expectations. There's an abundance of space in every dimension for passengers of any size. If the seats were any more comfortable, they'd be bespoke (which we assume is available, too).

In base form, the rear lounge seats can accommodate three passengers, and the seatbacks can fold to accept larger cargo. More likely, clients will opt for the Individual Seat configuration that replaces the center seat with a large center console. Contained within that console are a refrigerator, whiskey glasses, a liquor carafe and Champagne flutes. The seatbacks do not fold in this configuration, but there is a motorized glass partition to separate occupants from cargo.

With only 21 cubic feet behind those seats, the Cullinan is decidedly light on luggage space, but not on civility. Available recreation modules are custom-made to house any equipment you require, whether it's for fly-fishing, hunting or even drone racing. Furthermore, you can opt for the Viewing Suite, which adds two motorized seats that extend over the lower tailgate with a pop-up table between them.

We haven't had the pleasure of experiencing the 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan on the road yet, but we fully expect it to deliver a glassy smooth ride that is enhanced by the active Magic Carpet Ride suspension. We're told that even over rough terrain, the cabin keeps passengers blissfully unfazed. We'd also be shocked if the cabin were any less than silent under any condition. With any luck, we'll have driving and touring impressions soon.

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