The Porsche Cayenne SUV is a large crossover, crossing over into the world of Porsche Turbo sports cars. It isn’t rugged, but it is deft off road. All-wheel drive is standard. It most closely competes with the full-size Range Rover.
This is the second generation of the Cayenne, launched as a 2011 model, so it’s a bit long in the tooth. The 2017 Cayenne gets the latest version of Porsche Communication Management infotainment system as standard equipment. And the 2017 Porsche Cayenne lineup adds a new Platinum Edition package for the base and S E-Hybrid models.
Cayenne comes in six variations: The base Cayenne comes with a 3.6-liter V6 making 300 horsepower, capable of accelerating from zero to sixty in less than 7.3 seconds, according to Porsche, and is rated by the EPA for 18/24/20 miles per gallon City/Highway/Combined on Premium gasoline.
Also available is the 2017 Platinum Edition.
The Cayenne S model puts a twin turbo on that engine to make 420 horsepower, for 0-60 in 5.2 seconds, or 5.1 with the Sport Chrono option, and 17/24/20 mpg.
The GTS model twists up the boost to get 440 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque out of that twin-turbo V6, to get a zero-to-sixty time of 4.9 seconds, quite quick.
The Cayenne Turbo is a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 making 520 horsepower and hitting sixty mph from zero in a very quick 4.1 seconds. You want faster? The Turbo S makes 570 horsepower from that engine, and will go about 180 miles an hour.
Even the S E-Hybrid gets 416 hp from its supercharged 3.0-liter V6 mated with an electric motor for 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, along with an EPA rating of 47 MPGe with 14 miles of all-electric range.
The Cayenne won’t be crash-tested, because it’s low volume and high cost.
The 2017 Porsche Cayenne comes in Cayenne ($59,600); Cayenne S ($76,200); Cayenne GTS ($97,200); Cayenne Turbo ($116,500); Cayenne Turbo S ($159,600); Cayenne S E-Hybrid ($78,700) versions.
Navigation, Bluetooth, iPod/USB connectivity are standard. Panoramic sunroof and heated windshield are not.
The GTS gets its own exhaust system, air suspension and dampers, and bigger brakes with bigger air intakes in the nose.
Standard equipment includes all the dynamic aids and chassis systems, like Torque Vectoring Plus, Active Suspension Management, and Dynamic Chassis Control, that electronically sets at any given micro-second the resistance of the hydraulic rollbars, to keep the car flat in corners.
Cayenne styling looked weird 10 years ago, even sounded weird, the morphing of a Porsche and an SUV. This is the baby that came out, and some said it was tragically ugly. But no, for the last ten years others have used the Cayenne for direction and inspiration.
In front, the quad headlamps are familiar. The hood is long. In the rear are subtle hatch spoilers and an upright-yet-aerodynamic look.
The S E-Hybrid has the neon green trim that’s on every electric Porsche, including the calipers.
The Turbos have aggressive fascia.
The Cayenne feels like a coupe inside, with a lot of curves in upscale materials, and that analog clock. It feels like the Porsche Panamera, with its sweeping instrument panel, sculpted vents, and slanting console with its spine of buttons. The matte-metallic brightwork is cheery. The standard 7.0-inch touchscreen has voice navigation, and brings you Google Earth and Google Streetview.
Fit and Finish is as good as Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, and Lexus.
The instrument panel’s many buttons might seem busy at first, but it’s not, because it’s simpler and more efficient to get done what you want to get done, with buttons, dials or switches. You don’t need BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI, to get the same things done with less confusion. No digging into menus. But there aren’t that many buttons. There are actually fewer of them for 2017, with the center touchscreen that steals work from some of the buttons.
Front seats are supportive and comfortable, fairly adjustable to size, decent visibility, window line not too high. Optional Alcantara leather inserts are available.
The rear bench seat slides six inches fore/aft, seatback leans forward or back, but doesn’t fold flat. And the hatch slopes, so the cargo space is squeezed from top and bottom. If you have three passengers in the rear, one of them will be unhappy. Or two. Or three.
The handling is exemplary, compared to virtually any other tall utility. The steering feel is excellent, relative to other SUVs. Surprisingly, there’s very little body roll. The grip in the corners is immense, on huge wheels and tires. This is not a sports car, however. The base model weighs nearly 4,500 pounds.
The ride can be stiff, which can be solved by buying the Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management air-suspension system, which we recommend. It improves handling and offers modes for the driver to set. It can make the ride both smoother and firmer.
The 3.6-liter V6 doesn’t deliver enough power to adequately propel 4,500 pounds, its 300 horsepower not meeting the standards of Porsche buyers who expect something special. The Cayenne S is more like it, with its twin-turbo V6 making 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.
The Cayenne Turbo makes 520 hp from its twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8. It rockets to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. The Turbo S makes 570 hp and 590 lb-ft.
The S E-Hybrid plug-in, makes 416 hp and 435 lb-ft of torque from its supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and electric motor. It shoots to sixty in 5.4 seconds, and can go 78 mph without even using the gas.
Off road, don’t expect a two-speed transfer case like Land Rover has. Instead Porsche has the Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system with modes to get optimum grip on surfaces from snow to rocks.
The Porsche Cayenne is the result of a Porsche sports car meeting a large SUV. The current generation is a dated product, but it’s still an impressive vehicle.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.