Everyone's got a tell. A tick, a nod, a wink, a sideways glance — if someone's looking closely, there's no way to hide your true nature. The 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel is very good at hiding its oil-burning nature, but it, too, has a tell.
The exhaust pipes don't give it away, nor does the body. Even the wheels, 21s on our test vehicle, keep the secret. It's not even when you fire up the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 — which starts with a decidedly non-diesel quickness — that you get wise to the unusual powertrain underhood.
But then you grab the shift lever and shift into Drive. It's then, when the eight-speed automatic hooks up to the smoothly idling engine that the diesel creeps in. Not through the firewall or the floor or the exhaust, but a subtle vibration through the shift lever is the only giveaway that this Cayenne is something different. Something special.
Sharing Is Caring Let go of the shift lever, put both hands on the immaculately trimmed Porsche wheel and you would probably never know that this engine works any differently from any other Cayenne offering. And that's because this 3.0-liter V6 is a tried-and-true luxury offering initially developed for Audi and Volkswagen.
"We couldn't have done this without the merger," a Porsche engineer tells us over dinner, referring to Volkswagen's takeover of Porsche which is still navigating various lawsuits. Porsche could certainly have built a common-rail diesel V6 with a variable turbo on its own that would match the fuel economy, horsepower and torque that the VW-built unit provides, but certifying it for the strict diesel emission regulations in the U.S. would have been a financial stumbling block. Thankfully, the work has already been done and this power plant is Tier 2 Bin 5 certified — and VW/Audi is all too happy to share the wealth and spread the cost.
When sitting between the strut towers of the 5,508-pound Audi Q7, the 3.0-liter V6 now makes a respectable 225 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, which is good for a 0-60 sprint of about 8.5 seconds. It's a decent number, but Porsche doesn't do decent.
Lightness + Power Way back in 2011, Porsche redesigned the Cayenne. By making extensive use of aluminum and trimming the fat wherever it could, the current-gen Cayenne is some 400 pounds lighter than the SUV it replaced. In diesel guise, the Cayenne weighs in at 4,795 pounds — more than 700 pounds lighter than the Q7 TDI and the Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec and 400 pounds lighter than the BMW X5 diesel.
But simply having fewer pounds wasn't enough, Porsche made some software tweaks to the engine to produce 240 hp at 3,500 rpm and 406 lb-ft of torque starting at 1,750 rpm.
With power running through an eight-speed automatic (the only transmission available), the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel will hit 60 in 7.2 seconds (Porsche estimates), while the EPA says this Cayenne should deliver 19 city/29 highway mpg and 23 mpg combined. After some seat time, we think both sets of numbers can be beat...though not necessarily at the same time.
Drives Like a Porsche, Not a Porsche Tractor Twist the key and the engine fires up immediately with no telltale diesel pause or clatter. Porsche's "preglow" system is responsible for this smoothness, as the plugs get to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit in under 2 seconds and the engine settles into a low idle a fraction of a second thereafter. From there on out, everything is routinely Cayenne.
Steering is unchanged from the gas-burning Cayennes and offers the same lighter-than-expected, more-precise-than-necessary feel that helps define Porsche. And while Porsche's Torque Vectoring Plus is not available on the diesel, our tester was fitted with the self-leveling air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) that "offers continuous adjustment of individual damping forces based on current road conditions and driving style."
Perhaps we'd miss this feature on a tight, twisting road in Malibu, but on the epic mile-long sweepers of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula and a brief, 8-minute/8-mile sojourn down a two-lane dirt road, we never once missed the inability to select our own damper settings.
On the road and in the dirt, the oil-burning V6 is a natural match for the Cayenne. Keeping the shifter in Drive, the Cayenne Diesel rides wave after wave of torque with the effortlessness of an Aleut kayaker on the open sea. Unlike the Aleut, however, you don't have to wait for the next wave of torque. The eight-speed automatic shifts with the quickness and precision you'd expect from a Porsche box, and the diesel V6 responds with uncommon rev-ability.
Move the shifter into Manual mode and you'll have to pick between watching the tach like a hawk or banging off the rev limiter. Neither of which is made any easier by Porsche's shifter lever orientation (forward for upshifts) nor its awkward steering wheel buttons.
The High Cost of Low Consumption The 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel is priced at $56,725, $3,900 more than the base Cayenne V6 with the optional Tiptronic transmission. Even at Cayenne prices, this is not an insignificant amount of money. In traditional Porsche fashion, though, that's only a rough starting point. The vehicle we tested was loaded with the Premium Package Plus, 21-inch Cayenne Sport Edition wheels (painted black), Burmester surround-sound stereo, two-tone leather, 18-way adaptive sport seats and a few sub-$1,000 niceties that cranked the as-tested price to $98,146.
Some will be drawn to the diesel for its 7,716-pound towing capacity. Others will want the diesel for its bladder-bursting 765-mile projected range. Most buyers, though, will gravitate to the diesel for the fuel economy gains even though it will take seven years to pay off the premium over the gas-burning V6.
Even with this slow payoff, Porsche expects the diesel to account for 10 percent of all Cayenne sales. Year two, Porsche expects between 15 and 20 percent of Cayenne sales to be oil burners. Many of these sales they say will be conquests from Audi and VW TDI drivers hooked on oil, but ready for something better.
The Best Cayenne Yet The Porsche Cayenne is available in some of the most wonderfully preposterous configurations of any SUV. The GTS packs a 420-hp V8 with a performance exhaust that will ruin children's expectations of sports cars. The S pumps out 400 hp and is considered, for the class, "normal." And then there's the Turbo: 500 hp, 5,100 pounds, zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds and a $120,000-plus sticker price. It. Is. Awesome.
Compared to the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel, though, these are all toys, status symbols, showpieces for the country club and PTA parking lot.
Porsche's first diesel in the U.S. was a small farm tractor which, when new, was its best-selling vehicle. And with an EPA estimate of nearly 30 mpg, class-obliterating driving dynamics, Porsche-spec amenities and trucker-mocking range, the 2013 Cayenne Diesel is likely to follow that trend.
A diesel Porsche SUV is the last thing Porsche purists ever wanted, but they complained about water-cooled 911s, too, and look how that decision turned out.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Is the 2013 Porsche Cayenne a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2013 Porsche Cayenne and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2013 Cayenne featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2013 Porsche Cayenne? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2013 Porsche Cayenne and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2013 Cayenne 3.1 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2013 Cayenne.
Review So, let me see, after less than six months of ownership and less than 3,000 miles of driving, this is what has gone wrong with my new 2013 Porsche Cayenne Turbo: after bringing in my car for loud clanging noises when I backed the car up, they replaced my entire catalytic converter. Ten days later, due to different clanging noises, they replaced all of my muffler tips and replaced my electronic key fobs as the car was not recognizing them. Are you kidding me? I should have bought the Range Rover Sport for $40,000 less from the dealer less than a mile from my home. My neighbors who have bought Range Rovers have reported no such major repairs and certainly not to a brand new vehicle.
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What options are available on the 2013 Porsche Cayenne?
Available Porsche Cayenne 2013 Submodel Types: SUV, Hybrid, Turbo S
Available Trims: Base, S, Platinum Edition, GTS, Tiptronic, Turbo, S E-Hybrid, S E-Hybrid Platinum Edition, S Hybrid, Turbo S
Exterior Colors: Black, Meteor Grey Metallic, Crystal Silver Metallic, White, Jet Black Metallic, Rhodium Silver Metallic, Carrara White Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, Sand White, Moonlight Blue Metallic, Mahogany Metallic, Dark Blue Metallic, Titanium Metallic, Umber Metallic, Jarama Beige Metallic, Macadamia Metallic, Basalt Black Metallic, Dark Sea Blue, Jet Green Metallic, Marine Blue Metallic, Olive Green Metallic, Prosecco Metallic, Purpurite Metallic
Interior Colors: Black leather, Luxor Beige leather, Black leather/sueded microfiber, Black/Luxor Beige leather, Black, Sand Beige premium leather, Black premium leather, Platinum Grey leather, Agate Grey leather, Havanna/Sand Beige premium leather, Luxor Beige leather/sueded microfiber, Saddle Brown leather, Saddle Brown/Luxor Beige leather, Stone Gray/Steel Gray, Stone/Steel Grey leather, Black/Cohiba Brown leather, Chestnut/Black premium leather, Havanna/Sand Beige leather, Sand Beige, Stone Grey leather/sueded microfiber, Stone Grey/Steel Grey leather, Umber/Cream premium leather, Umber/Light Tartufo premium leather
Popular Features: AWD/4WD, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Trip Computer, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Auto Climate Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Alarm, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Leather Seats, Bluetooth, 6000lb Towing Capacity, Aux Audio Inputs, Automatic Emergency Braking, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Navigation, Upgraded Headlights, USB Inputs, Parking sensors, Sunroof/Moonroof, Heated seats, Keyless Entry/Start, Back-up camera, Upgraded Stereo, Cooled Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, Towing Hitch, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Entertainment System