Vehicle Overview The Cayenne is a jack-of-all-trades, which could be the reason it continues to be the best-selling model for Porsche. It's a midsize SUV that comes standard with all-wheel drive for year-round use and, depending on the configuration, possesses some serious performance prowess. From the base level 300-horsepower V6 engine, to a plug-in hybrid, to a heavy-hitting 570-horsepower turbo V8, the Cayenne is able to satisfy a wide range of needs and/or sporting fantasies.
Regardless of where you start in the Cayenne model line, there is no shortage of options to equip and customize it to your liking. There are more than a dozen choices of wheels alone, a number of two-tone leather interior arrangements and trim accents like aluminum, carbon fiber, sueded Alcantara or even more leather. Porsche offers an adjustable air suspension, electronically controlled dampers and active anti-roll bars that endow the Cayenne with physics-defying levels of handling. Or if going the rugged route, you can get off-road underbody protection for the rocker panels, engine, fuel tank and rear axle. Flexibility is a wonderful thing, but a word of caution, as the more exotic packages and items can essentially double the price of a base-model Cayenne.
The Cayenne's closest dynamic counterpart is the BMW X5 (and X5 M variant), which offers a number of great engines and performance upgrades that will appeal to the buyer that favors the "Sport" in their "Utility Vehicle." For more relaxed driving, the Mercedes-Benz GLE delivers a first-class interior in a whisper quiet cabin for truly pleasant transport you'll look forward to driving daily. If you're searching for a family-friendly crossover, the 2017 Audi Q7 still handles curves surprisingly well and some may find its ride a little more comfortable than the BMW and Porsche. Lastly, the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is one competitor that makes a style statement that stands out from the rest.
There are many great choices in this segment depending on your needs, but the Porsche Cayenne is definitely a standout in many categories, and one we could easily recommend.
Performance and MPG All 2017 Cayennes employ an eight-speed automatic transmission, which includes an automatic stop-start system for reduced fuel consumption. All-wheel drive is standard as well, but there are two versions: The S E-Hybrid feature a single-mode system with a self-locking center differential, while the other models come with an active system that adds two additional off-road modes and a locking rear differential.
The base 2017 Porsche Cayenne is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Porsche says the entry-level model accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy to be 20 mpg combined (18 mpg city/24 mpg highway).
Under the hood of the Cayenne S lies the first of the truly performance-oriented engines. Its turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 pumps out 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, a Cayenne S with 21-inch wheels took just 5.4 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill. The EPA rates the S at 20 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway).
The GTS model bumps the output of this engine to 440 hp and 443 lb-ft. Porsche estimates the GTS accelerates from zero to 60 in just 4.9 seconds, while fuel economy is lowered 1 mpg all around compared to the S.
The plug-in S E-Hybrid features a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that works in parallel with an electric motor to produce a maximum of 416 hp and 435 lb-ft. Like many plug-in hybrids, the S E-Hybrid should be capable of driving in pure electric mode (about 14 miles) before the gas engine kicks in. Recharging a drained battery takes about 2.7 hours using the standard 3.6-kilowatt onboard charger and high-voltage current; an optional 7.2-kilowatt charger cuts that time in half. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 22 mpg combined (22 city/22 highway). Despite the fuel efficiency that its name suggests, the S E-Hybrid is no slouch on the track. This hot-rod hybrid made the zero-to-60-mph run in 5.2 seconds in recent Edmunds testing.
A turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 with 520 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque moves the Cayenne Turbo. Porsche says the Cayenne Turbo can make the zero-to-60-mph sprint in 4.2 seconds. The Turbo S ups the ante by boosting engine output to 570 hp and 590 lb-ft. This should further reduce the zero-to-60 time to an astounding 3.8 seconds. Both Turbos carry an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg combined (14 city/21 highway).
In all versions of the Cayenne except the S E-Hybrid, a Sport Chrono package is offered, which shaves a tenth of a second from these zero-60 times when its launch control program is activated. The Turbo S comes equipped with Sport Chrono standard.
All Cayennes except the S E-Hybrid are rated to tow a healthy 7,716 pounds.
Safety The 2017 Porsche Cayenne comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The standard "multi-collision brake system" automatically slows the vehicle down to 6 mph after an initial collision occurs in order to minimize further damage; note that the driver can override it by pressing the accelerator.
Available electronic safety features include front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a surround-view camera, a blind-spot monitor and lane departure warning. The optional adaptive cruise control system is bundled with a forward collision mitigation system that provides automatic pre-impact emergency braking if a collision is deemed imminent.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Cayenne S came to a stop from 60 mph in 106 feet, while a Cayenne S E-Hybrid stopped in 118 feet. Other Cayennes we have tested offer braking performance similar to the S. These are exceptional braking distances for an SUV.
Additional Information It would be easy to dismiss the 2017 Porsche Cayenne as just an SUV with a fancy sports car badge. After all, do you really expect it to drive like a 911 and still carry a family, as well as a 50-inch television in the cargo area? Well, you shouldn't. But the Cayenne is nevertheless one of the best SUVs to drive and actually one of the most well-rounded luxury models, offering a little something for everyone. Well, everyone with an ample enough budget.
If you want the closest thing possible to a sports car SUV, order up the GTS or Turbo model, or at least specify an upgraded suspension or brake package. If you're after a winter sports-mobile, the Cayenne has standard all-wheel drive and plenty of roof space for racks — that should do the trick. Looking for a luxurious suburban runabout? It can be that, too, as a properly provisioned Cayenne with leather-wrapped everything and a liberal sampling of the options list will comfort and cosset you whether you're driving to work or to the dog park.
But, with so many variations, it can be difficult to figure out which is best for you. For the most part, each of the Cayenne models is tied to a different engine. There's the base Cayenne (300-horsepower V6, 20 mpg combined); the Cayenne S (420-hp turbocharged V6, 20 mpg combined); the Cayenne GTS (440-hp turbocharged V6, 20 mpg combined); Cayenne Turbo (520-hp turbocharged V8, 17 mpg combined); and Cayenne Turbo S (570-hp turbo V8, 17 mpg combined). The diesel-powered Cayenne has been discontinued, thanks to the Volkswagen Group's emissions cheating scandal. That means there really isn't an appealing fuel-saving version anymore. (We don't recommend the unrefined and irritating-to-drive Cayenne S E-Hybrid.)
There are changes for 2017, the most notable being the new PCM 4.0 touchscreen interface that boasts improved functionality as well as the ability to add optional Apple CarPlay functionality. There are also two new Platinum Edition models, which add a selection of popular options plus exclusive trim and 20-inch wheels to the base Cayenne and the E-Hybrid.
The Cayenne is not perfect, however. Its cargo capacity is small for its segment and there are a variety of optional features that should probably be standard, given its price point. That said, the Cayenne is one of our top recommended luxury SUVs. Let us help you find the one that's perfect for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.