2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom Sedan Review

No other luxury sedan can match the opulence and sheer presence of the 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom.




what's new

The 2016 Phantom gets oak interior inlays (replacing elm), while the extended-wheelbase model adds standard power rear footrests. Also, the available individual rear seats now feature power leg rests, and the Starlight headliner adds two integrated reading lights and a "twinkle" feature.

vehicle overview

If nothing less than the absolute finest sedan will do, the 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom is the obvious choice. That's true despite the fact that the styling has hardly changed since the car's debut in 2004, and the same V12 engine is still under the hood. Indeed, the current Phantom has been in production for longer than just about any vehicle on the market, so you might wonder if newer rivals have passed it by. But your mistake would be assuming that the big Roller has any true rivals at all.

There are plenty of executive-class luxury sedans, of course, but none on the Phantom's scale. Consider the otherwise imposing Bentley Mulsanne, for example; the Rolls is 2.5 inches wider, 4.6 inches taller and nearly a foot longer in standard-wheelbase specification. Similarly, the Bentley's objectively excellent interior materials pale by comparison, as do those of every other sedan on the market. The only real disappointment with the Phantom is its lack of world-beating acceleration; you'd think that this king of sedans would have the speed to match, but the 453-horsepower V12 needs almost 6 seconds to hit 60 mph. In this rarefied realm, that qualifies as genuinely slow.

Now, if you plan to spend most of your time in the Phantom's limousine-like rear quarters, the V12's output may be less important to you than its manners, which are impeccable. Should you want more juice, however, the new Mercedes-Maybach S600 obliges with a 523-hp turbocharged V12 for less than half the price. There's also the above-mentioned Mulsanne and its high-performance variant, the Mulsanne Speed, both of which are notably quicker than the Rolls. But for the pinnacle of automotive refinement, the 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom is still the one.

trim levels & features

The 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom is an ultra-luxury sedan available in base and extended-wheelbase (EWB) body styles. There is seating for five passengers, or four when equipped with the individual rear seat configuration. The Phantom comes in one very complete trim level.

Standard features include 21-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, automatic and adaptive LED headlights, LED taillights, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, power-closing rear coach doors, a power-closing trunk lid, soft-close front doors, automatic wipers, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, driver memory functions, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a wool and cashmere headliner, rear vanity mirrors and two umbrellas hidden in the front doors.

Standard electronics features include Bluetooth, an 8.8-inch infotainment display, a navigation system, voice controls and a Lexicon Logic7 surround-sound audio system with 15 speakers (including two floor-mounted subwoofers), a glovebox-mounted six-DVD changer, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port and satellite radio.

The Phantom EWB adds 10 inches of rear legroom, four-zone climate control and power-actuated footrests.

As one might expect, the options list is vast and includes power-adjustable rear seats (with a choice of a fixed center seat or a full center console, the latter bundled with power leg rests), a "rear theatre" (an entertainment system with two DVD screens built into the standard drop-down picnic tables), a rear bar, a cigar humidor, glass cabinets, a refrigerator, trunk-mounted parasols, mother of pearl inlays and a twinkling "Starlight" headliner with dual reading lights and embedded LED lights emulating nighttime stars (precise celestial maps can be applied at extra cost).

Another notable option is the Dynamic package, which adds a stiffer suspension, sportier transmission and brake specifications, a sport steering wheel and visible exhaust tips.

Additionally, Rolls-Royce's Bespoke program enables you to customize your Phantom in any way you can imagine. Paint and trim combinations are endless, for instance, as Rolls-Royce will mix paint and dye leather to match any color sample a customer brings into the dealership.

performance & mpg

The rear-wheel-drive 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom is powered by a 6.7-liter V12 that produces 453 hp and 531 pound-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The EPA rates the Phantom's fuel economy at 14 mpg combined (11 city/19 highway).

safety

Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, side airbags for front occupants and full-length side curtain airbags. In addition, Rolls-Royce emergency telematics and front and rear parking sensors are standard, as is a camera system that shows rear, side and overhead views to assist you with both parking and pulling into traffic.

driving

Considering that the 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom weighs as much as a Chevrolet Suburban, handling composure is rather remarkable. We have yet to sample a Phantom with the Dynamic package, but we've been pleasantly surprised by the ultra-luxury sedan's athleticism in previous tests. The steering is light and communicative, and the Roller feels confident around turns thanks to its well-sorted air suspension. There's no getting around its enormous dimensions, however; in close quarters or on tight roads, the Phantom can be a bear to maneuver.

The V12 is strong and nearly silent, making full acceleration a somewhat eerie experience from the driver's lofty perch. It's ultimately not that powerful, but it's incredibly smooth. Ride quality, meanwhile, is truly regal. The Phantom's suspension is supple yet controlled, dispatching bumps, potholes and even speed humps as if they weren't even there.

interior

With its bolt-upright dashboard, clocklike instruments, thin-rimmed steering wheel and plush seats that give you an elevated, almost SUV-style view of the road ahead, the interior of the Phantom is unlike any other. Every square foot of leather inside the Phantom comes from cows raised in high-altitude Alpine meadows free of thorns and barbed wire, so as to minimize the chance of markings on the hides. We're not even kidding.

Located behind a panel containing the Phantom's center-mounted clock is an 8.8-inch infotainment screen that includes split-screen functionality. The setup is essentially a disguised version of BMW's iDrive interface, right down to the multifunction controller that pops out of the Phantom's center console. Generally speaking, it works quite well, though you'll initially want to take some time to familiarize yourself with its menus before you hit the road. Other controls, particularly those for the front seats and climate adjustment, are unusual and may take some time to figure out.

The wide rear compartment seats three in comfort, or two in even more comfort when the power-adjustable individual rear seats with power leg rests are ordered. With the rear seats set back deep into the car's body, it can get a little dark, but we expect that's exactly how many Phantom owners would like it. Perhaps the best thing about the Phantom's rear quarters is getting in and out through its rear-hinged doors, which have integrated umbrellas in the event that your arrival occurs during a downpour.

Given how large the Phantom is, its 16.2-cubic-foot trunk capacity is decidedly modest.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.