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Video | Here's Why the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Is the World's Most Expensive SUV

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author photo by Doug DeMuro July 2018

I recently had the chance to check out the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which is a sports-utility vehicle that costs as much as a house. That's a good thing, because unlike other, previous house-costing Rolls-Royce models, you could probably live in the Cullinan if you needed to.

I say this because the Cullinan is, perhaps unsurprisingly, massive. It's over 210 inches long, which makes it more than a foot longer than the Range Rover, and six inches longer than the long-wheelbase Range Rover, which is basically just a monument to SUV excess. More importantly, the Cullinan weighs just shy of 5,900 pounds, which isn't excessively far from double the weight of a normal, plebeian car like the one you drive. It is massive.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to experience this massiveness cruising down the road -- or, wafting, as Rolls-Royce models do -- as I couldn't drive the Cullinan, since it's not yet on sale, and since I examined a corporate-owned model that can't be driven on the road, courtesy of O'Gara La Jolla, the Rolls-Royce dealer here in the San Diego area. But I did spend the entire day poking around it, inside and outside, and what I learned is that it seems to be a Rolls-Royce in every single sense of the term.

What I mean by this is that it's basically a Phantom that's lifted up, with a cargo area in back instead of a trunk -- and I think that's a good thing. All of the Phantom's exquisite materials are carried over, from the beautiful leather-on-every-surface theme to the aluminum-on-surfaces-that-don't-have-leather design strategy. Even though you may not think of SUVs as being quite as stately or as luxurious as a full-on luxury sedan like the Phantom, Rolls-Royce cheapened nothing in making an SUV.

And, indeed, it's the same story under the hood: the Cullinan doesn't skimp on the powertrain. Instead, it borrows the Phantom's engine -- a twin-turbocharged V12 with 570 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, which makes it one of the most powerful SUVs on sale. Unfortunately, given that it's also one of the heaviest, I don't expect athleticism from this thing.

But, of course, that isn't exactly the point. The point is to glide along, in pure comfort, sitting above everything as you cruise down the street. Or, maybe not the street: The Cullinan has three suspension heights, including one that's impressively high, for better ground clearance in off-roading situations. There's also a button marked "OFF ROAD." No, there aren't a dozen different terrain settings and selections like in most luxury SUVs; the Cullinan knows only two types of terrain: on-road and off-road. I'm not sure what the "OFF ROAD" button does, but I know I'd feel more comfortable off-roading my $350,000 SUV if I had it pressed.

Yes, a $350,000 SUV. Rolls-Royce hasn't yet announced the Cullinan's official pricing, but I've been told to expect it to come in somewhere between the Ghost and the Phantom, which means somewhere in the $300,000 to $400,000 bracket. That will make it the most expensive production SUV in history, far eclipsing the top Range Rover models, which struggle to crack the $200,000 figure, and even well above the Bentley Bentayga, which starts at a mere $230,000.

But then again, the Cullinan is also likely the most luxurious SUV ever, bringing a level of refinement and comfort to the SUV market that's fitting of its massive price tag. I'll know for sure just how refined it is when I drive it in a few months, but I'll say this now: Based on the equipment, the interior and the quality, it clearly feels like the most luxurious SUV ever made -- precisely what you'd expect from Rolls-Royce.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Video | Here's Why the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Is the World's Most Expensive SUV - Autotrader