2009 Porsche Cayenne Review


Pros & Cons

  • Unparalleled handling among SUVs, authoritative acceleration, excellent build quality, highly customizable.
  • Adding options can get hilariously expensive, thirsty, short on cargo capacity versus rivals.
List Price Estimate
$7,711 - $11,384

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Edmunds' Expert Review

It may spit in the face of Porsche's sports car heritage, but the 2009 Porsche Cayenne is a brilliantly engineered and thoroughly competent SUV for families on the (rapid) move.

Vehicle overview

When the Porsche Cayenne debuted a few years back, it seemed like sacrilege. A Porsche SUV was as off-putting to car enthusiasts as a Spago hot dog would be to food connoisseurs. Why would this maker of magnificent sports cars stoop so low as to make a truck? The answer is best expressed in dollar signs -- the Cayenne's sales success has netted the company a fortune. However, it's also a vehicle that fully lives up to the Porsche name, even if it doesn't fit the classic mold. The 2009 Porsche Cayenne may be a heavy SUV, but its unexpected levels of acceleration and handling are attributes that even the crankiest enthusiast can appreciate.

The Cayenne received its first major update last year. Exterior styling was only marginally tweaked, but the engine lineup received substantial changes. The base V6 went from a 3.2-liter laughingstock to a 3.6-liter unit better suited to such a large vehicle. The naturally aspirated and turbocharged V8s were also pumped up, and the new GTS trim level was designed to maximize the Cayenne's handling potential. For 2009, the Cayenne gets even spicier, thanks to the return of the granddaddy Turbo S model, now boasting a whopping 550 hp and 553 pound-feet of torque. With an estimated 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds, the Cayenne Turbo S is as quick as a 911 Carrera.

The other big news for 2009 is the updated electronic equipment that's being applied to all of Porsche's models. The clunky number pad and tiny knob that controlled the old stereo and navigation systems are gone, replaced by a touchscreen interface with more user-friendly physical buttons. Bluetooth, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack are also newly available.

Overall, the 2009 Porsche Cayenne is one of a handful of performance-oriented luxury SUVs. The BMW X5 and X6, the Infiniti FX, the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport are all compelling entries, each offering a distinctive take on this peculiar segment. Nonetheless, while the Cayenne can get very expensive if you sample liberally from the options list, we think it's clearly the top choice in this group. Porsche enthusiasts might still roll their eyes at the Cayenne, but if they were ever to find themselves shopping for an SUV, we're sure the Cayenne would be at the top of their list.

2009 Porsche Cayenne models

The 2009 Porsche Cayenne is a midsize crossover SUV available in Cayenne, Cayenne S, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S trim levels, each with its own engine. 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, five 12-volt outlets, cruise control, 12-way power front seats with power lumbar, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, a trip computer, a refrigerated glove compartment and a 12-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player and steering-wheel audio controls. The Cayenne S adds 18-inch wheels, a V8 engine, driver memory functions and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The Cayenne GTS includes a more powerful V8, 21-inch wheels with summer performance tires, an air suspension, a lower ride height than all other Cayennes, a sport body kit, Alcantara and aluminum interior trim and a power tilt-and-telescoping sport steering wheel. The Cayenne Turbo is equipped similarly but features a twin-turbocharged V8, 19-inch wheels, height-adjustable air suspension, a slightly different body kit, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, front and rear parking assist, power seatbelt height adjustment, 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, leather-trimmed interior panels and a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system. The Turbo S further adds 21-inch wheels, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control for improved handling, sport seats, a two-tone interior color scheme and upgraded interior trim. Most of this extra equipment on the Turbo models is available on the lower trim levels as options.

The options list is one of the longest in the business. It's also among the priciest, so keep an eye on the bottom line. Highlights include dynamic chassis control (standard on Turbo S), an 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 and entry, a sunroof (regular or panoramic), quadruple-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, et cetera).

2009 Highlights

For 2009, the Cayenne Turbo S model returns to the lineup, now featuring 550 horsepower. Across the Cayenne line, the optional Porsche Communication Management interface now utilizes a touchscreen and can be equipped with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. Additionally, the optional navigation system is now hard-drive-based, and satellite radio is newly available. Finally, carbon ceramic brakes become optional on V8-powered models with 20- and 21-inch wheels, and the standard brakes on the Cayenne Turbo have also been enlarged, bringing with them standard 19-inch wheels.

Performance & mpg

All 2009 Porsche Cayennes are equipped with all-wheel drive. The base Cayenne is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 producing 290 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. According to Porsche, the Cayenne with the automatic goes from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. The automatic-only Cayenne S gets a 4.8-liter V8 with 385 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. In our testing, a Cayenne S completed the 0-60-mph sprint in 7.1 seconds.

The Cayenne GTS gets the same basic V8 as the S, but it's massaged up to 405 hp and can be had with a six-speed manual as well as the automatic. The latter transmission 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. The Turbo's estimated 0-60 time is 5 seconds flat, and the Turbo S should be quicker still. Not bad for a vehicle that tips the scales at more than 5,000 pounds.

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. If you have enough autobahn, the Turbo S won't quit till it reaches 174 mph -- a number that might stop those enthusiasts' eyes from rolling. Towing capacity for all Cayennes is a robust 7,700 pounds when properly equipped.


Antilock disc brakes are standard on the 2009 Porsche Cayenne, as are front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Stability control is standard as well, and the system now 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. Ceramic composite brakes are optional on all V8 Cayennes.


In terms of performance and handling, the 2009 Cayenne fully lives up to its Porsche heritage. With its combination of massive heft and remarkable agility, the Cayenne is the automotive version of former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who somehow managed to foxtrot his enormous frame around the stage on "Dancing with the Stars." 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 and linear. The Cayenne can also be a capable SUV when it comes to off-road work, but only with the optional off-road package.


With a 911-style instrument cluster and left-side ignition switch, the Cayenne's interior is pure Porsche. For 2009, the Cayenne gets a new touchscreen for navigation, stereo and phone controls. 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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 Porsche Cayenne.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

GTS "The Best Cayenne" version
GTS Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A)
I had two BMW X5 before I got this GTS, and even though the X5 was THE benchmark of the luxury/sport SUV sector, it was dethroned by the Cayenne GTS. For all of us who enjoy driving sports cars “and” also like to go out with the family, a 911 is no option; this GTS model drives like a true Porsche, not like the other versions of the Cayenne that drive like a SUV built by Porsche. Handling, handling, handling, the Turbo is very fast but falls short in crisp maneuvering. For me the GTS is the perfect balance, it has enough HP (405) and scalpel sharp handling. I got it in GTS Red color, every time I stop at a traffic light, people keep nodding in approval, and giving thumbs up.
Power for the family
Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
Although the interiors are not great at all, once you drive the SUV it feels like a true sports car, the power on the road is amazing and the stability & brakes are fantastic. It's a solid sports car for taking the whole family for a ride (100 mph feels like 60 mph). I can not imagine the turbo version or the GTS performance since I drive the base entry level and love it! Solid powerful German car great for a weekend ride!! Pets included.
GTS 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6M)
Will reiterate everything the pulluru already stated. This is an amazing vehicle. Very hardcore. I'm 6'4", and have ample room in the front and rear seats. The cargo capacity in the rear is compromised, however (i.e, very small for an SUV). The ride is really good, even with 21" wheels, even in San Francisco. Sports-mode transforms the vehicle. Handling is ungodly, with cornering speeds being higher than my 2007 Cayman. PDCC is a must, though I would pass on the variable steering, as it is very artificial and "weird" in 20- 50mph city driving.
Cayenne GTS manual
GTS 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6M)
Was surprised how good the ride, comfort, and build quality was. With winter tires, handles great in snow. My cousin who just bought a BMW 3 series, took it for a hard drive and couldn't stop talking about fun it was to drive. If only I didn't have to fill the tank every other day. Get the dynamic chassis control option if you can; worth all the pennies.

More about the 2009 Porsche Cayenne
More About This Model

Why does Porsche build a 5,500-pound SUV that can leap to 60 mph in 5 seconds and hit a top speed of 174 mph? Well, because it can. And because it knows that there are people who will gladly pay the big bucks to own such an extraordinary vehicle. While the 2009 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S may seem somewhat over the top (not to mention rather pricey) it is also a striking example of how this legendary carmaker can bend the laws of physics almost to the breaking point.

After digesting the above numbers, try to wrap your head around the fact that the Cayenne Turbo S can also whip through the slalom quicker than a Jaguar XFR sport sedan. And that it's also very capable off-road, as we discovered in the sand dunes of Dubai. The Cayenne Turbo S may be built like a Great Dane, but it moves like a Border Collie.

When it's not putting the hurt on high-brow sport sedans or rugged terrain, the Cayenne Turbo S makes for a docile daily driver. In spite of its imposing performance, it's just as happy sauntering down to Neiman Marcus as it is showing you a good time on your favorite back road. At a starting price of $125,000, the Turbo S is the top dog in the Cayenne kennel. Its 25 percent price premium over the Cayenne Turbo gets you 50 more horsepower, larger tires and some eye candy such as carbon-fiber cabin accents and unique exhaust outlets.

All things considered, the 2009 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S is an incredible vehicle that's essentially a class of one. Which brings us to one last question: How can Porsche charge nearly $1,500 extra for satellite radio and Bluetooth on this $125,000 Cayenne when both are standard on an $18,000 Ford Focus SES? Because it can.

Used 2009 Porsche Cayenne Overview

The Used 2009 Porsche Cayenne is offered in the following submodels: Cayenne Turbo S, Cayenne SUV. Available styles include S 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A), Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A), Turbo S 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl Turbo 6A), GTS 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6M), 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6M), GTS Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A), and Turbo 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl Turbo 6A). Pre-owned Porsche Cayenne models are available with a 4.8 L-liter gas engine or a 3.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 550 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Porsche Cayenne comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2009 Porsche Cayenne comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Porsche Cayenne?

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Porsche Cayenne?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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