Porsche raised the public's collective eyebrow when it decided to enter the sport-utility vehicle business in 2003 with the bulbous Cayenne. However, despite the grumblings of purists, this midsize luxury SUV has proven itself worthy of the vaunted Porsche name over the course of two generations.
With a lineup that stretches into six-digit territory when new and engines that range from a hybrid V6 to a twin-turbo V8, the Porsche Cayenne isn't your typical midsize SUV. Nor is it the most practical or family-friendly. Indeed, the Cayenne's relatively small cargo area, high load floor and lack of a third-row seat option limit its real-world functionality.
But in terms of spirited driving, there are few better. Thanks to its all-wheel-drive system, razor-sharp steering and superb brakes, the Porsche Cayenne demonstrates surprising dexterity around corners. The current generation isn't quite as adept off-road as the original Cayenne, but it's also lighter and more nimble, a trade-off that most shoppers will likely appreciate. New or used, a Cayenne is one of the best luxury SUVs you can get.
Current Porsche Cayenne
The Porsche Cayenne is a five-seat midsize luxury SUV with numerous trims that correspond to engine choice. The base Cayenne features a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower, along with all-wheel drive and a novel six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic is optional with the V6 and standard on everything else. Stepping up to the Cayenne S gets you a 4.8-liter V8 that gets the party started with 400 horses. The Cayenne Turbo rocks a turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 rated at 500 hp, while the Turbo S ups the ante to 550 hp. Should you care more about efficiency than performance, the Cayenne S Hybrid produces 380 hp but beats the base V6's fuel economy, while the Diesel's torque-rich 240-hp V6 uses even less fuel and still delivers authoritative thrust.
Inside, the Cayenne employs an enveloping, cockpit-style layout reminiscent of the Porsche Panamera, with ample standard features and as many options as your bank account can handle. The center console, adorned with upwards of 50 buttons, rises rakishly to meet the dashboard and its large touchscreen display. As with other Porsches, the Cayenne's interior boasts sumptuous materials and excellent build quality. The sculpted rear seats not only recline but slide fore and aft as well. Maximum cargo capacity, however, is more in line with compact crossovers at just 62.9 cubic feet.
In reviews, we've been astonished by the current Porsche Cayenne's athleticism. It can be hustled along a curving road with gusto, yet the ride manages to stay supple, even with the optional active dampers in their most aggressive setting. And although this Cayenne isn't meant for serious off-road use, it can still hold its own in light-duty applications. If we were making a list of the most capable vehicles across all driving scenarios, the Cayenne would be right there at the top.
Read the most recent 2014 Porsche Cayenne review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Porsche Cayenne page.