Jackson Hole, Wyoming – For those who like shiny, sparkly diamonds and ultra luxury SUVs, Rolls-Royce has blessedly married the two with its debut of the 2019 Cullinan SUV, its first all-terrain, all-wheel drive machine. It was fitting of course that the Cullinan’s debut was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With a backdrop of the Grand Tetons and amid azure blue skies, this location was picture perfect. An abundance of horses, made the picture complete.
For adventure aficionados seeking luxury wheels for which Rolls-Royce is the benchmark, the Cullinan SUV is a sight to behold. Indeed, when I first saw the Cullinan in August, I wrote that it is more regal than ought to be legal. Now I have driven it extensively, both on and off-road, I can also say it is truly a dream drive.
Named after the world’s largest diamond weighing in at 3,106 carats prior to cleaving – most of which are now part of the Royal Collection, including the 500-carat tip of the Queen’s scepter – the Cullinan SUV is every bit as magnificent as its namesake.
Of course all models of the Rolls-Royce family possess lavish and lush comfort, elegance, beauty and power, but what separates the Cullinan from its SUV siblings and cousins is its ultra luxury combined with its sublime silence. This is so even when driving with all the windows open and off-road, ascending and descending Jackson Hole’s steep Snow King Mountain. This was also the case when driving over gravel and large rocks near Shadow Mountain. It can be explained by the electronic shock absorbers and over 200-pounds of sound insulation throughout the Cullinan, including inside the tires.
The massive, dual-paned window glass provides even more meditative solitude. Its elevated rear seats contain significant vehicular real estate and the Cullinan’s interior felt significantly larger than most New York City apartments. Its undeniable comfort naturally includes massage seating. Coupled with expansive views and an ethereal quietude akin to donning BOSE sound cancelling headphones, driving the Cullinan is so effortless, it would almost be a shame to have it chauffeured. And if you want to hear some tunes, the 18 speakers will keep you humming like Hall & Oates.
Cullinan’s beauty however is not just skin deep. It has unmatched versatility, both on and off-road. And going off-road is simply a snap, or rather a button. Press the “off road” button, and viola, off-the-road you go. The Cullinan is the company’s first all-wheel-drive system, and it is incredibly smooth. I drove off-road in areas over rocks the size of cantaloupes, through extremely thick mud, over snow and ice, on steep inclines and around sharp descending switchbacks, all with virtually no movement felt in the interior. Had I been carrying a passenger holding a full martini glass – with three olives – not a drop would have spilled.
This opulent 6,069-pound beauty possesses a sexy silhouette, and has a twin turbo-charged 6.75-liter V-12 engine that goes from zero to 60 miles-per-hour in five seconds. With a top speed of 155, the Cullinan will take you where you want to go effortlessly, quietly and with more feel for the road than the Phantom or the Ghost.
There is also a one-touch button for the rear seats to lay completely flat for maximum usage and storage. And the tailgate is split for easy loading to the cargo area.
There is also a glass partition that closes off passengers from the cargo area, so there will be no gust of wind to disturb the peaceful serenity of the interior when the hatch is opened. Optional swivel, tailgate seats create a ‘Viewing Suite’ and bring an entirely new dimension to external landscapes. Press another button and a cocktail table magically appears. Wildlife viewing or a pre-game party with a bottle of Dom Perignon anyone?
While in Jackson Hole, I spoke with Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. Despite the $325,000 price tag, Müller-Ötvös has “a very strong expectation of market success as the company is seeing new and different types of buyers in the ultra luxury market,” including those who are very active and those with families.
With the entry of the Cullinan into the ultra luxury SUV market, Rolls-Royce has spawned a Holy Grail trifecta of the ultimate magic carpet ride: power, effortlessness and stunning silence. Perhaps most important, these architects of luxury have created an ultra luxe SUV that is not just beautiful, but seriously fun to drive, both on and off-road.
Though fashionably late, yet with impeccable timing following Bentley and Lamborghini into the high-end, Uber-luxury SUV party, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan will no doubt be the belle of this utterly brilliant bespoke ball.
Julie L. Kessler is MoneyInc’s Senior Travel Editor, writes travel for several other major media outlets, and is an attorney and legal columnist. She is also the author of the award-winning book “Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight” and can be reached at Julie@VagabondLawyer.com