2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan First Drive: Getting Mud In The Grey Poupon

I see a deep, muddy puddle and stab the throttle, turning the big steering wheel to align the passenger-side tires with it. Water sprays across the long hood, dousing the delicate chromed Spirit of Ecstasy and the acres of real estate behind it in brown, murky water.

This isn't normally how I'd treat a $325,000 vehicle, but it's precisely the rough treatment that the team behind the 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is encouraging when nearly half the drive route is rough, rutted, dirt two-tracks that are ubiquitous in the rural areas near Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park.

If dirt roads seem like an odd place to test a Rolls-Royce, it's because the Cullinan is unlike any car to roll out of Goodwood in the company's 114-year history. That's not just because it has all-wheel drive, a button marked “Off Road”, or usable ride height (Rolls-Royce has an overland history dating back to T.E. Lawrence, after all). See, as Rolls-Royce tells it, the Cullinan is a family car, rather than a limousine driven by a chauffeur or a two-door tourer designed for well-heeled couples. And that pitch is working – Rolls-Royce says it's had excellent responses from ultra-wealthy consumers with families during ramp-up events, and that over half the Cullinans currently on order are for first-time owners.

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

“We wanted to have open space, and a luggage compartment with enough...