People love SUVs because the space is useful, the cabin is comfy, and some come with credible towing capability. The Porsche Cayenne offers all of that but what puts it above the usual snore-utility vehicles is its rapid pulse. It’s fun to drive and quick on its feet thanks to either a 355-hp turbo V-6, 434-hp twin-turbo V-6, or a more potent 460-hp twin-turbo V-8 exclusively available on the sporty Cayenne GTS. A 455-hp plug-in hybrid is feisty too, with a penchant for fuel saving as the most efficient Cayenne available. Its fiercest competitors, such as the Genesis GV80 and BMW X5 all have lower starting prices but they also have trouble keeping up with the peppery Cayenne when the driving gets speedy.
What’s New for 2023?
Porsche keeps almost everything the same this year for the 2023 Cayenne, though Chromite Black Metallic paint has replaced the previously offered Jet Black Metallic.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’re very fond of the normal Cayenne, which comes standard with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a 10-speaker stereo, and a Wi-Fi hotspot—among other popular equipment—and our preferred configuration would expand upon that with thoughtful options. We’d add the Premium package that includes 14-way power front seats, adaptive LED headlights, blind-spot monitoring, a more powerful Bose surround-sound system, hands-free passive entry, heated front seats, and a panoramic sunroof. We’d also optimize its on-road performance and off-road capabilities with the Sport Chrono package (expanded drive modes and launch control, the Off-Road package (extra underbody protection and additional displays), and the adaptive air suspension. Individual options that would improve its style and increase its luxury include a set of 20-inch wheels, four-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, massaging front seats, and soft-close doors.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
If you want more giddy-up than what the base Cayenne’s 355-hp turbo V-6 provides, the 434-hp Cayenne S offers an even zestier setup courtesy of its twin-turbo V-6. The plug-in hybrid (called the E-Hybrid) marries an electric motor and a turbocharged V-6 for a combined 455 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The Cayenne GTS boasts a 460-hp twin-turbo V-8 with the great-sounding exhaust note and breathtaking acceleration. All engines pair with an astute eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. While making anything that weighs more than two tons move gracefully is challenging, the engineers in Stuttgart were successful with the Cayenne. The S model that we tested moved quietly and steadily at highway speeds before seamlessly transitioning to twisty sections, where it showcased surprising athleticism for its size. However, the largest rollers diminish its ride quality on uneven roads. Most models have performance options that include adaptive dampers with or without an adjustable air suspension, four-wheel steering for improved maneuverability, and active anti-roll bars for flatter cornering. The Cayenne’s brakes can be upgraded to Porsche’s tungsten-coated iron rotors (called Porsche Surface Coated Brakes, or PSCB) or costly carbon-ceramic stoppers. The base model we tested had neither setup but still needed only 159 feet to stop from 70 mph.
Towing and Payload Capacity
Have a spare Cayman GTS kicking around yearning for its next track day? No problem, says the Porsche Cayenne’s 7700-pound max towing capacity; throw the two-seater on a trailer and go have fun.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Cayenne E-Hybrid is the thriftiest of the bunch, earning a combined city and highway rating of 21 mpg. It also has an all-electric range of 17 miles. The base Cayenne and Cayenne S share a 22-mpg highway rating, but in the city, they’re rated at 18 and 17 mpg, respectively. The GTS has estimates of 15 mpg city and 19 highway. The Cayenne S we evaluated on our 75-mph highway route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, earned 25 mpg—matching the E-Hybrid we tested. Despite its unimpressive highway number, the plug-in hybrid is the most eco-friendly option for folks who live in urban areas. For more information about the Cayenne’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Porsche essentially provides a blank canvas inside the Cayenne for customers to outfit as they see fit. Everything from the interior trim to the seatbelt colors to the surface materials can be individually selected. The driver faces a snazzy gauge cluster with an analog tachometer flanked by two 7.0-inch screens that display selectable information. In addition to traditional options such as heated and ventilated front and rear seats, the Cayenne offers desirable upgrades, including more supportive seats, massaging front seats, four-zone climate control, and more. Whereas the rival Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90 have three rows, the Porsche has only two. Still, its back seat is adjustable and provides plenty of stretch-out space. The Cayenne entices Porsche enthusiasts with ample passenger capacity and cargo volume, which are obviously far greater than any 911’s. It’s the largest Porsche SUV and provides 27 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and up to 60 cubes with the seats folded flat. Interior cubby storage is unremarkable, with most small items seeking refuge in the door pockets or the shallow center-console bin. Every Cayenne includes a power-operated liftgate; the optional passive-entry system (called Comfort Access) allows it to be opened or closed with a foot gesture.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The infotainment system uses a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen mounted in the middle of the dashboard. Its slick interface includes a configurable home menu and many personalized settings. While the system was responsive and easy to operate during our testing, the screen attracted smudges. A rotary controller would help reduce distractions during driving. Every Cayenne has Porsche Connect Plus, which includes a Wi-Fi hotspot as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A set of upgraded audio systems includes a 14-speaker Bose unit or a much pricier Burmester setup that pumps 1455 watts through 21 speakers. An available rear-seat entertainment system attaches two 10.0-inch displays to the back of the front-seat headrests.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Cayenne is available with a bevy of driver-assistance technology to help keep occupants safe. Every model has forward-collision warning and parking sensors at both ends. It even supports night vision with an optional infrared camera. For more information about the Cayenne’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first year or 10,000 miles
2019 Porsche Cayenne S
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$98,970 (base price: $84,150)
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
177 cu in, 2894 cc
434 hp @ 6600 rpm
405 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 16.3-in vented tungsten-carbide-coated disc/14.4-in tungsten-carbide-coated vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero, F: 285/40R-21 (109Y) N0 R: 315/35R-21 (111Y) N0
Wheelbase: 113.9 in
Length: 193.6 in
Width: 78.1 in
Height: 66.8 in
Passenger volume: 107 cu ft
Cargo volume: 27 cu ft
Curb weight: 4802 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 4.2 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 10.6 sec
Zero to 150 mph: 33.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.3 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.1 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.8 sec @ 109 mph
Top speed (drag limited, mfr’s claim): 165 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 152 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.93 g
Observed: 17 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 20/18/23 mpg
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