Does A Rolls-Royce SUV have a real place in this world?

From the outside, and to the 99-percenters, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan looks like an over-priced BMW or a reworked Phantom with a taller roof that was designed to keep the brand from falling into the abyss of irrelevant brands. In fact, you might actually be right to some extent. The Cullinan does look a lot like the Phantom in the front thanks to the big rectangular grille, boxy headlights, and square front end. And, the brand is owned by BMW, so yeah, there’s some Bimmer DNA there too. That said, the Cullinan is the very first Rolls-Royce SUV and, outside of that, it also introduced a lot of new tech for the brand, including an off-road driving mode and all-wheel drive. Introduced in 2017, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan has been on the market for a few years now, and it’s been staring down the barrel of the Bentley Bentayga ever since. So, how does is hold up three years in? Well, we spent a week with the Cullinan to find out for ourselves, and this is what you need to know.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Powertrain and Performance

2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan - Driven Drivetrain
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Like all vehicles that wear the double-R emblem, you might spend a lot of money to own a Cullinan, but that money also comes with some impressive performance. In fact, the Cullinan is powered by Rolls’ famed 6.75-liter V-12 and even thought the SUV is quite heavy, it’s pretty quick for its size. it’s just not quite as powerful or as fast as its main competition – the Bentley Bentayga or the Lamborghini Urus.

How Much Power Does The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Have?

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The 6.75-liter V-12 that powers the Rolls-Royce Cullinan delivers 571 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 627 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm. If you opt for the Cullinan Black Badge, you’ll get 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, but that extra power pushes the MSRP up by $52,000, and it really calls into question whether or not its worth it as the competition has an edge in terms of performance and price. We’re talking about, of course, the Bentley Bentayga and the Lamborghini Urus.

The Bentley Bentayga Speed happens to be the most expensive model in the Bentayga lineup, but it’s also the only one with a 12-cylinder engine. That engine is a W-12, and it delivers 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The real kicker here is that the range-toping Bentayga offers more power, better fuel economy, and it $105,000 cheaper. Yeah, it’s really that much cheaper. That Lamborghini Urus, which is only available with a 4.0-liter V-8 sits on top with 641 horsepower and matches the Cullinan’s torque output at 627 pound-feet. It’s also $122,000 cheaper than the Cullinan, so let that sink in as you continue reading.

How Fast Is The Rolls-Royce Cullinan?

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[a[With 571 horsepower on tap, you’d think the Cullinan is fast and, it kind of is to a certain extent, as it’ll get you to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and up to a top speed of 155 mph. Those figures could be a little better, but the Cullinan rides on the same platform as the Phantom, and it tips the scale at just shy of 3 ton. In comparison, the Bentley Bentayga Speed will get you to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and up to 190 mph while the Lamborghini Urus takes just 3.1 seconds to get to 60 mph and also tops out at 190 mph.

How Much Does The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Weigh?

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The Rolls-Royce Cullinan weighs just short of 3 ton at 5,864 pounds. That makes it heavier than the Bentley Bentayga Speed at 5,474 pounds and the Lamborghini Urus at 4,850 pounds.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Fuel Economy

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As an exceptionally heavy vehicle, it shouldn’t surprise you that the Rolls-Royce Cullinan manages to get just 12 mpg in the city. Hit the highway and it’ll do as good as 20 mpg, but its combined rating, and what you should expect in the real world is just 14 mpg. This is fairly inline with the competition, but it is a bit better than what you get in the Urus, which matches the city and combined ratings but falls short on the highway at just 17 mpg. Meanwhile, the Bentley Bentayga Speed does 14 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 17 mpg combined. If you want big luxury with fuel economy, the Bentayga might be your best bet.

Can the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Tow A Trailer?

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The Rolls-Royce is capable of towing when properly equipped and has a maximum towing capacity of 7,275 pounds – that puts it ahead of the Lamborghini Urus at 7,000 pounds but below the Bentley Bentayga Speed at 7,716 pounds (converted from the European rating of 3,500 kg).

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Interior Design

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The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is billed as the most luxurious SUV on the planet and inside we’d certainly have to agree. Sure, some of the materials found inside are also available on other vehicles, but Rolls’ attention to detail is second to none. Of course, this comes at a price, and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is much more expensive that its rivals – a term we use somewhat loosely as it kind of sits in a niche all its own. For what it’s worth, the Cullinan isn’t only nice inside, but the cabin is also extremely isolated from the outside world with very little road or wind noise making it into the cabin, even at higher speeds. Comfort is second to none, and the tech is – for the most part – what you’d expect from a car that starts out well about the $300,000 mark.

How Big Is The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Inside?

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Rolls-Royce has yet to release official interior specifications for the Cullinan, but we can tell you that it’s about inline with both the Bentayga and the Urus. The Cullinan, which is geared toward riders as much as it is drivers, does seem to offer pretty ample legroom in the rear. For the price, we expected a little more interior room, but the Cullinan isn’t exactly the largest SUV on the market, either.

How Much Cargo Room Does The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Have?

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The Cullinan might boast the highest price tag of its competitors, but it also offers a metric ton of cargo room. With 19.8 cubic-feet standard, it bests the Bentayga by more than two cubic-feet. The Urus offers a little more without the seats laid down, but that’s where the game changes. The Cullinan’s maximum cargo room comes in at 88.4 cubic-feet – a far cry from the Bentayga’s 62.6 cubic-feet and light years away from the 56.36 cubic—feet available in the Lamborghini Urus.

What Interior Amenities Does The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Have?

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What really sets the Rolls-Royce Cullinan apart from any other vehicle on the market is simply how nice the interior is. Outside of the champaign flutes and cooler, you’ll enjoy a full leather interior, heated from seats, an impressive 12.3-infotainment system, head-up display, and a commendable 10-speaker audio system. That said, it should be noted that the interior of the Cullinan, outside of just how luxurious the materials are, isn’t all that different from a BMW X7 or other luxury vehicle – it’s the design, fit and finish, and quality of materials that make the Cullinan what it is.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Exterior Design

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The exterior of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is a bit of a mixed bag. To sum it up in one sentence, Rolls-Royce set out to make something new but failed to do anything noteworthy in terms of design. The front end, for example, was taken almost directly from the Phantom. Sure, it’s a little bit taller, but for the most part, that’s all Phantom DNA. The rear end isn’t unattractive, but again, we’re talking about a lot of old DNA like the bumper-integrated exhaust outlets and the dated taillights. On top of this, the Cullinan is a boxy SUV trying to survive in a world where everyone likes more rounded proportions. Add in the pricing aspect that puts it well above the models it competes against and the subpar, less-than-elegant proportions and there’s a lot of room for improvement.

How Big Is The Rolls-Royce Cullinan?

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While we’re quick to criticize the Cullinans proportions, it’s far from being the smallest among its peers. In fact, it’s nearly 8 inches longer than the Bentley Bentayga and nearly 9 inches longer than the Lamborghini Urus. It matches the competition in width, but is quite a bit wider, even trumping the Urus by 7.5 inches. The wheels are also pushed much further to the front and rear extremities, giving the Cullinan a wheel base of 130 inches – a foot longer than both the Bentayga and the Urus. Check out the full measurmeents in the table below:

Rolls-Royce Cullinan vs competition exterior dimensions
Rolls-Royce Cullinan Bentley Bentayga Speed Lamborghini Urus
Length 210 202.4 201.3
Width 79 78.7 79.4
Height 72 67.8 64.5
Wheelbase 130 117.8 118.2
Front Track TBA 66.5 67
Rear Track TBA 66.7 67.2

On that note, garaging might be an issue if you have a smaller garage, but then again, if you have Cullinan money, that’s not likely an issue, so we’ll leave it at that.

How Much Does The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Cost?

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The Rolls-Royce Cullinan carries a base MSRP of $340,350 as of the time of this writing – that puts it at $105,000 more expensive than the $235,700 Bentley Bentayga and – believe it or not – a little over $120,000 more expensive than the Lamborghini Urus. Factor in the nearlu unlimited customization options available from Rolls-Royce and you can easily push the Cullinan into the $400,000-$500,000 range.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Competition

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Given the price of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, it really sits in a niche all its own, which leaves us to look at Bentley – Rolls’ traditional competitor – and Lamborghini. Both companies have recently released their own versions of super-luxurious and opulent SUVs, caving to a trend that has all but killed the sedan.

Is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Better Than the Bentley Bentayga?

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Right off the bat, we have to admit that we tend to favor the Bentayga over the Cullinan. From the start you can move to the range-topping Bentayga Speed and still have a ton of money to spend elsewhere compared to what you’ll pay just to get into the Cullinan. The Bentayga speed features a W-12 engine that inheritantly has a little more soul than Rolls’ aging V-12, and it delivers some extra power, too, with 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque on tap. In terms of performance the Bentley can get to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, a whole second faster than the Cullinan, and it tops out at 190 mph, well above the Cullinan’s max speed of 155 mph.

The only real downside to the Bentayga is that it doesn’t offer nearly as much cargo room, with its max rating of 62.6 cubic-feet falling some 26 cubic-feet short of what you get in the Rolls. However, outside of this, the Bentayga essentially has all the goodies, upscale materials, and technology that you’ll get in the Cullinan as it too is designed to be the epitome of luxury with a Bentley twist. The few extra MPGs made available by the W-12 might appeal to you as well, so it’s worth noting. Check out the full comparison of specs in the table below:

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Rolls-Royce Cullinan vs Bentley Bentayga Speed
Rolls-Royce Cullinan Bentley Bentayga Speed
Engine 6.75-Liter V-12 6.0-Liter W-12
Fuel Premium Premium
Horsepower 571 @ 5000 626 @ 5000
Torque 627 LB-FT @ 1600 664 LB-FT @ 1500
Transmission 8AT 8AT
Drive AWD AWD
Towing Capacity 7275 LBS 7716 LBS (3500 kg)
Fuel Economy 12/20/14 14/23/17
Curb Weight 5864 LBS 5474 LBS
Fuel Capacity 26.4 Gal (100 Liters) 22.4 Gal (85 Liters)
0-60 MPH 4.8 Seconds 3.8 Seconds
Top Speed 155 mph 190 mph

Read our full review on the Bentley Bentayga

Is The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Better Than The Lamborghini Urus?

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If you’re a Lamborghini fan, then you’re already leaning toward the Urus anyway, but there are a few things that don’t necessarily work in is favor. While the Cullinan has a massive V-12, the Urus is stuck with Lamborghini’s V-8. Not that it’s a bad engine, but it’s still quite the difference. Like the competition the Urus features an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD. It’s towing capacity – if you’d really tow something with a Urus – is rated at 7,000 pounds, which isn’t bad but still a bit lower than what you’ll get with the Cullinan. The urus falls short in terms of length and width, too, but that’s not all that big a deal. So, what makes the Urus a good choice?

For one, the Urus is a Lamborghini. I’d be wrong not to point out that it’s just a glorified Audi Q8, but we’ll leave that discussion for another time. That V-8 engine delivers 641 horsepower and 627 ponud-feet of torque, the former of which trumps the Cullinan by 70 ponies. It’s also the fastest of this crop, taking just 3.1 seconds to get to 60 mph and continuing on like a bat out of hell up to its top speed of 190 mph. It does suffer in the fuel economy department, but that’s not that big a deal when you consider it’s the cheapest offering in this niche at just $218,000 – that’s $122,000 cheaper than the Cullinan and almost $20,000 cheaper than the Bentley Bentayga. The Urus is also sportier, so if that’s your thing then we have a feeling the Urus is where you need to be. Check out how the numbers compare in our convenient table below:

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Rolls-Royce Cullinan vs Lamborghini Urus
Rolls-Royce Cullinan Lamborghini Urus
Engine 6.75-Liter V-12 4.0-Liter V-8
Fuel Premium Premium
Horsepower 571 @ 5000 641 @ 6000
Torque 627 LB-FT @ 1600 627 LB-FT @ 6000
Transmission 8AT 8AT
Drive AWD AWD
Towing Capacity 7275 LBS 7000 LBS
Fuel Economy 12/20/14 12/17/14
Curb Weight 5864 LBS 4850 LBS
Fuel Capacity 26.4 Gal (100 Liters) 19.8 Gal (75 Liters)
0-60 MPH 4.8 Seconds 3.1 Seconds
Top Speed 155 mph 190 mph

Read our full review on the Lamborghini Urus

Final Thoughts

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To sum things up, we’ll admit that it’s hard to find anything else on the market – especially in the form of an SUV – that compares to the level of luxury you get in the Cullinan. The cabin is remarkably quiet and comfortable and the driving experience is pure bliss, part of which can be attributed to the effortless acceleration from that 6.75-liter V-12. However, the Cullinan does seem kind of small for a Rolls-Royce, at least as far as our expectations were concerned, and it is prohibitively expensive, making cars like the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus look cheap by comparison. Rolls-Royce likes to boast that the Cullinan is cable of doing some serious off-roading, but let’s be honest: few people will spend this kind of money on a vehicle to beat the hell out of it off-road. That said, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is every bit a Rolls-Royce in the classic sense, but at the same time, it feels like its purpose is simply to let Rolls-Royce keep up with Bentley (It took Rolls two model years to fire a shot back at its main competitor) and to cater to the few Rolls-Royce customers that probably said “We’d love an SUV.” It’s certainly not a vehicle for everyone and given the price, it seems Rolls will be hard pressed to gain any new clientele from Bentley or Lamborghini.

Philippe Daix
Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert - phil@topspeed.com
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of TopSpeed.com. He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read full bio
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