Rolls-Royce is known for limousine-like sedans such as the Ghost and Phantom, but the rich and famous—much like the rest of the car-buying world—aren’t as into the three-box shape as they once were. To appease this sector of megawealthy patrons, Rolls came up with the Cullinan, the pinnacle of the SUV species. This mammoth machine gets its name from a gigantic diamond, which is appropriate considering the ute’s overwhelming opulence and ultra-expensive price. The back seat feels as spacious as a living room, and the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament broadcasts the size of the owner’s bank account. The Rolls tries to justify its premium with a velvety V-12 engine and an utterly tranquil ride. But while buyers can personalize the cabin with bespoke options, there’s some questionable content, including an inelegant digital gauge setup and an inflexible rear bench seat. Still, the 2021 Cullinan is nothing short of a rolling palace that pampers riders and amazes onlookers.
What’s New for 2021?
For 2021, Rolls-Royce hasn’t made any significant changes to the Cullinan. We also haven’t heard anything more about the all-electric model that was rumored back when the SUV debuted.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
In the make-believe scenario that we could afford a Cullinan, we’d choose the Crystal paint scheme, the 22-inch seven-spoke wheels, the gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, and the electronic tow hitch. We’d spec the Immersive Seating with Center Console option, which gives the rear seats massage functionality and replaces the center seat with a console that doubles as a cooling bin with two champagne flutes and a whiskey decanter. And we wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have the fabric above our heads display a fiber-optic starry night sky via the Shooting Star Headliner. Finally, we’d add the rear privacy glass and side curtains to make the back row into a tranquil hideout.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Cullinan’s twin-turbo 6.7-liter V-12 provides 563 horsepower and is whisper quiet, lest it disturb the VIPs in the cabin. In our testing, we recorded a 60-mph time of just 4.5 seconds—impressive for a vehicle that weighs about three tons. All-wheel drive is standard, although we suspect buyers will never venture off the tarmac and risk damaging the paint. The Cullinan rides on an air suspension that receives information from a road-scanning camera and automatically adjusts the vehicle’s height to compensate for imperfections in the pavement. Ride comfort is beyond the standards of regular luxury vehicles, as the Cullinan wafts down the road and transmits nothing unpleasant to the people inside.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Per the EPA’s methodology, the 2021 Cullinan’s V-12 powertrain will consume 12 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Believe it or not, those figures aren’t the worst in the class. The V-12-powered Bentley Bentayga boasts ratings of 12 mpg city and 17 highway, and the Mercedes-AMG G63, 13 mpg city and 15 highway. We ran the Cullinan on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, and it outperformed expectations, achieving 21 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The spacious cabin is lined in box-grain leather, lambs-wool carpeting, beautiful wood trim, and milled-aluminum accents. If you want an even higher level of luxury, Rolls-Royce will customize almost every part of the Cullinan’s already lavish interior with whatever delights you can imagine. The only warts in this otherwise decadent space are the fully digital gauge cluster that lacks the elegance of an analog setup and the standard rear seating that’s as inflexible as a park bench. At least buyers can rectify the latter issue by optioning the two-seat second row with adjustability and massage functions. The exterior is classic Rolls-Royce, but the vehicle’s liftgate configuration allowed the brand to fit the cargo area with an optional Viewing Suite consisting of a pair of leather-wrapped seats and a small table that pop out of the floor. This is by far the most luxurious way to take in a polo match at the country estate. Even though this SUV is a clear break from tradition for the storied British brand, it’s still an uncompromised Rolls-Royce in every way.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every Cullinan has a large touchscreen infotainment system with a redundant controller on the center console. The available rear-seat entertainment option adds a 12.0-inch screen to the back of each front seat. Along with a Wi-Fi hotspot, the Cullinan has a bespoke audio system that features 18 speakers.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Cullinan hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Rolls-Royce SUV has a host of driver-assistance technology, including night vision. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Rolls-Royce provides exemplary warranty and included-maintenance programs that span four years with no mileage limit.
- Limited warranty covers four years and unlimited miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years and unlimited miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for four years and unlimited miles
More Features and Specs