Off-Road Rolls-Royce

Off-Road in a Rolls-Royce

by Michael Satterfield -11/23/2021

When most people think of Rolls-Royce they envision something like those 1980s Grey Poupon commercials, stuffy, aristocratic, luxurious but somehow boring. But here in rural Texas, you just don't see a lot of Rolls-Royces, so when we had the opportunity to not just test a Rolls-Royce but test it with the specific instructions of getting it dirty... we were more than happy to oblige. 

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan we are driving costs nearly four times the median home price in Limestone County, Texas where our office is, so it isn't likely that most Americans are going to see the Cullinan unless they live in the wealthiest of neighborhoods and even then it will be a rare sighting. Most Rolls-Royces don't see many country roads, let alone dirt roads. So while the Cullinan has a button in the console that says "off-road" hardly anyone uses it, but Rolls-Royce claims it is a capable off-road vehicle designed for oil barons and cattlemen who need to survey their vast landholding in the lap of luxury.

Off-Road in a Rolls-Royce

To prove this we brought the Cullinan to General Sam's Off-Road Park outside of Huntsville, Texas to see what would happen when we pushed that off-road button. The team from Roll-Royce had the shiny red Cullinan outfitted with standard wheels and winter tires, the best option available since 33inch BFGs aren't on the order sheet. This particular Cullinan is painted "Hell Rot" which is basically fire engine red. Out here in the country, it would be easy to mistake this massive SUV for a firetruck speeding down a dirt road, all it needs is some gold lettering on the door and ladder on the roof and it would be ready for service in the RFD.

We started off light, taking the Cullinan down some dirt roads and improved trails, but eventually, we headed to more advanced trails which would be a challenge for most stock SUVs. The Cullinan took it all in stride, as we explored the trails of General Sam's we expected at some point to get stuck, but we never did. Unlike many SUVs there literally is just one button to push and the Cullinan does the rest, after all, it would be indecorous to have to switch gears or lock hubs. 

Off-Road in a Rolls-Royce

I have never been so comfortable while off-roading, the perfect leather seats, the isolation from outside noise, the ability to focus simply on driving while the Culliana's off-road system figures out the rest, it was everything I have come to expect from a Rolls-Royce. The same road scanning cameras and air ride suspension that make the Cullinan amazing to drive in the city, make it surprisingly capable off-road. The system is designed to take on deep snow, sand, mud, even fording streams, also the owner can get to whatever far-off location, deploy the optional Viewing Suite, and enjoy nature as Rolls-Royce intended it. 

Off-Road in a Rolls-Royce

Slow and careful is generally how you spend more of your time off-roading, but it wouldn't be right if I didn't see how the Cullinan could handle itself with a little speed. After all, there is a high likelihood that you might have to flee a rebel army or some kind of international crime syndicate while driving your Rolls-Royce in exotic locations off the beaten path. The Cullinan is a tank, but it is a fast tank, power sliding through the mud, ripping down dirt trails, and using all 563hp to shuffle uphill at speed, you'd definitely have a fighting chance at outrunning some Bond villains in Defenders. 

Rolls-Royce has a rich history with off-roading dating back to the early 1900s when Roll-Royces were outfitted for the battlefields of World War I. The HMAC Victor and HMAC Tigris were outfitted with armor, turrets, and off-road tires. Why Rolls-Royce hasn't built a tribute called the HMAC Cullinan special edition is a mystery to me. Plus the only thing more awesome than off-roading a Rolls-Royce would be off-roading a Rolls-Royce with a gun turret. Something tells me the turret won't be making the list of bespoke options for 2022, but we can hope. 

Off Road in a Rolls-Royce

In the world of SUVs, the Cullinan is in a league of its own, even the Bentley Bentayga which is one of my all-time favorite SUVs has a starting price of 'just' $177,000. The Cullinan... has a base price of $330,000 and with options, the one I am driving comes in at just over $417,000. But the Cullinan is hands down, by far, the best SUV I have ever driven and that is what makes it a Rolls-Royce. 

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