Full 2010 Porsche Cayenne Review
What's New for 2010
In its final year before a full redesign, the 2010 Porsche Cayenne receives new special-edition models: the Cayenne S Transsyberia and the Cayenne GTS Porsche Design Edition 3. There are also more interior color customization choices for 2010.
No matter how much you may get used to them, some things will always seem strange. The California governor is an Austrian, body-building Kindergarten Cop. A small Starbucks coffee is called tall. Kim Kardashian is a celebrity. And then there's the 2010 Porsche Cayenne. We'll admit, a Porsche SUV still seems like a bizarre concept (what, no Ferrari minivan?), but after eight model years, continuous improvement and relatively substantial sales, the Cayenne has grown on us.
Now in its final year before a complete redesign, Porsche's SUV maintains its sizable lineup of models that range widely in performance and price, from the V6-powered base to the 550-horsepower Turbo S. Whichever level of spiciness you choose, however, you'll be driving one of the sportiest crossovers on the market; that Porsche badge isn't simply for show. True, the Cayenne doesn't exactly handle like a sports car, but for those who venture into the hills for a weekend family vacation, few other crossover SUVs will exhibit the same composure on serpentine roads.
Unlike other performance-oriented SUVs, the Cayenne has a decent amount of off-roading potential. Packing a rear-biased permanent all-wheel-drive system, air suspension and Porsche's Active Suspension Management, the Cayenne can also be equipped with optional items like a locking differential and underbody reinforcements. To highlight this capability -- and Porsche's participation in the 4,400-mile Transsyberia Rally -- a new trim known as the Cayenne S Transsyberia debuts for 2010. Strangely, the Off-Road Technology package is optional, so the Transsyberia is pretty much just an appearance package with the GTS engine.
The 2010 Cayenne isn't alone among performance-oriented SUVs. BMW's X5 and X6 (including the M editions), the Infiniti FX, Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG and Range Rover Sport are strong competitors. Some of these also undercut the Porsche's price considerably. Items that are normally standard at this price range, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, satellite radio and keyless ignition/entry are optional on the Cayenne. Other options are pricier than they should be, and given the sheer number of them it's actually possible to double the price of the Cayenne.
Then there's the matter of the fully redesigned model for next year. It's going to be much lighter (excessive weight is a current Cayenne criticism), while boasting a sharper-looking interior and streamlined styling. We think it'll be worth the wait, but should there be a good deal to be found, the 2010 Porsche Cayenne is still one of the most impressive SUVs on the road.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Porsche Cayenne is a midsize crossover SUV available in Cayenne, Cayenne S, S Transsyberia, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S trim levels. Standard on the base V6-powered Cayenne are 17-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, front and rear foglamps, heated side mirrors, a power tailgate (with adjustable height), cruise control, eight-way power front seats (including adjustable lumbar), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery and a 12-speaker sound system with CD player. The Cayenne S adds a V8 engine, 18-inch wheels, driver memory functions and dual-zone automatic climate control.
The Cayenne S Transsyberia adds the more powerful V8 from the GTS, contrasting-color 18-inch wheels, an air suspension, a biplane spoiler, roof-mounted lights, skid plates, faux-suede interior upholstery and sport seats. The optional Off-Road Technology package can be added that includes a lockable rear differential, rock rails and reinforcements for the engine, fuel tank and rear axle.
The Cayenne GTS gains 21-inch wheels, summer performance tires, a sport-tuned air suspension, a lower ride height than all other Cayennes, a sport body kit, faux-suede and aluminum interior trim, and a power-adjustable steering wheel.
The Cayenne Turbo is equipped similarly to the GTS, but features a twin-turbo V8, 19-inch wheels, a height-adjustable air suspension, a slightly different body kit, automatic and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, front and rear parking assist, a touchscreen interior electronics interface, a hard-drive-based navigation system, front and rear heated seats, a heated steering wheel, upgraded driver memory functions, upgraded leather upholstery and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
The Turbo S further adds a more powerful turbo V8, 21-inch wheels, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (for improved handling), sport seats, a two-tone interior color scheme and upgraded interior trim. Most of the added equipment on the Turbo models is available on the lower trim levels as options.
Of course, there's even more should one want to customize the Cayenne even further. Highlights include the Off-Road Technology package, various wheel designs, ceramic composite brakes (not available on the base Cayenne), variable-assist power steering, a towing package, keyless ignition/entry, a sunroof (regular or panoramic), quad-zone climate control, sport seats, Bluetooth, a rear-seat entertainment system, a six-CD changer, an iPod/USB interface, satellite radio, voice-recognition capability and numerous customized interior details (colors, materials, etc.).
Powertrains and Performance
All 2010 Porsche Cayennes are equipped with all-wheel drive. The base Cayenne is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 producing 290 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard, and a six-speed automatic (Tiptronic) is optional. According to Porsche, the Cayenne with the automatic goes from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. The Cayenne S is equipped with the automatic only and features a 4.8-liter V8 good for 385 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. In our testing, the Cayenne S completed the 0-60-mph sprint in 7.1 seconds.
The Cayenne GTS and Transsyberia get the same basic V8 as the S, but it's massaged up to 405 hp. The six-speed manual is standard on the GTS, while the automatic is optional on the GTS and standard on the Transsyberia. An automatic GTS yielded a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds at our test track.
The Cayenne Turbo gets a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 with 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, while the Cayenne Turbo S squeezes 550 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque from the same engine. Both Turbo models are only available with the automatic. In our testing, the more powerful Turbo S managed a 5-second run to 60 mph. If you have enough autobahn, the Turbo S won't quit until it reaches 174 mph.
Naturally, fuel economy is not a Cayenne strong suit, ranging from 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined for the Cayenne V6 to 11/17/13 for the manual-transmission GTS. Towing capacity for all Cayennes is a robust 7,700 pounds when properly equipped.
Antilock disc brakes are standard on the 2010 Porsche Cayenne, as are front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Stability control is standard as well, and the system features a rollover sensor. Active bi-xenon headlights and front and rear park assist are standard on the Turbo models and available on all other trims.
Multiple Cayennes we've tested (S, GTS and Turbo S) have come to a stop from 60 mph in about 110 feet -- fantastic results for an SUV.
Interior Design and Special Features
With a 911-style instrument cluster and left-side ignition switch, the Cayenne's interior is pure Porsche. Materials quality is superb -- every major surface feels worthy of a vehicle with such a large price tag, right down to the richly carpeted footwells. As you add things like extended leather and an Alcantara headliner, that quality improves even more. Fit and finish, especially with the optional wood or metallic accent packages, is excellent, and the various front seat designs are all supportive yet comfortable. Rear seat comfort is mediocre, however, and maximum cargo capacity, at 62.5 cubic feet, is on the small side for a midsize luxury SUV.
In terms of performance and handling, the 2010 Porsche Cayenne fully lives up to its Porsche heritage. Even with its massive heft, the Cayenne displays remarkable agility. The GTS and Turbo models offer particularly sporting drives. Swift acceleration from nearly any speed is always at hand, even with the base V6, while cornering is controlled and confident, especially when the dynamic chassis control option is specified. The ride is firm but never harsh, and the brakes are strong. The Cayenne can also be a capable SUV when it comes to off-road work, but only with the optional Off-Road package.