Some people thought Bentley was crazy for introducing an SUV with a starting price of $229,000 back in 2016. Now, Rolls-Royce is taking things a step further with a $325,000-plus entry of its own that promises to be the most well-appointed off-road-capable vehicle ever built. The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is more expensive, and perhaps more opulent than the Bentayga, but does that mean it’s also the better-looking of the pair?
Both SUVs do a good job of sticking with the style traditions of their respective brands. Up front, the Cullinan features a protruding rectangular grille and boxy headlights much like the new Rolls-Royce Phantom. In fact, the entire front end, including the vents, is dominated by boxy shapes. Bentley’s entry has a slightly softer look, with less aggressive hood lines, circular headlights, and a mesh grille instead of the stark vertical slats that are on the face of the Rolls. The lower vents are more pronounced on the Bentayga, however, and the front corners are somewhat squared off to give it a more commanding presence.
Rolls-Royce took very few liberties in the design of its new SUV. Peering at it from the side profile, it looks like what you’d expect of a Rolls-Royce, with conservative body lines and door handles that are positioned together. You could almost say it looks like a big box. On the other hand, the Bentayga features noticeably curvy hips. Also note that the Cullinan measures 210.3 inches long while the Bentayga is considerably shorter at 202.4 inches.
In the rear, the Cullinan features vertically oriented taillights that sit discreetly on the edges. The Bentayga’s taillights are much bigger in comparison. The Cullinan’s square theme continues in the rear, while the Bentayga features rounder edges on the rear window, taillights, and license plate holder. The Bentayga dons a rounded lip just below the glass, giving it a bit of a droopy appearance. The Rolls is once again boxier, and its bumper is more prominent than the one on the Bentayga.
More important than the exterior design of an ultra-luxury SUV is its interior. Owners who have this kind of money can customize the interior in limitless ways to their liking, so it’s of little use to debate the fit and finish we see in these photos. But it’s interesting to examine the different layouts of the two models. The Cullinan features a new central screen that can be controlled by touch or via the Spirit of Ecstasy controller on the center console. Bentley’s entry looks older and has more extraneous buttons. Unfortunately, its center screen looks like it could be lifted from a lower-cost model. There is also a rotary knob like on the Cullinan, but it houses the engine start button and different driving modes rather than infotainment controls.
So who has designed the better ultra-lux SUV: Rolls-Royce or Bentley? Let us know on Facebook.