Exhilarating performance is rarely attributed to crossover SUVs, but in the case of the Porsche Cayenne, this descriptor fits perfectly. Designed to provide family-friendly utility to driving enthusiasts, the Cayenne borrows heavily from Porsche’s iconic 911 sports car in the areas of style and performance.
2011 to Present: Porsche Cayenne
The second-generation Porsche Cayenne is five-passenger all-wheel-drive luxury crossover SUV from the brand known for driver-centric vehicles that typically serve as segment benchmarks. The Cayenne’s second generation began for 2011 and received a significant mid-cycle refresh for 2015.
The current Porsche Cayenne offers a host of powertrain options, and most models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The base Cayenne is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 300 horsepower. The Cayenne S model receives a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 or a 4.8-liter V8, depending on the model year. The Cayenne GTS features a more muscular version of the engine found in the S. Performance enthusiasts will delight in the Cayenne Turbo’s 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8.
The Cayenne also features a duo of efficient alternatives to gas-only engines. Discontinued in 2017, the Cayenne Diesel featured a 240-horsepower, turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6. The Cayenne S E-Hybrid holds the distinction of being the first luxury SUV with plug-in hybrid capabilities. Powered by a supercharged V6 and a synchronous electric motor, it can be driven in all-electric mode for ultimate gasoline savings.
The Porsche Cayenne rises to every motoring occasion. Whether you choose to use the nicely equipped and well-appointed crossover as your daily commuting vehicle, take it to the race track or wander off the beaten path during a camping expedition, the Cayenne serves up luxury, power and off-road performance. An advanced suspension system provides a comfortable ride.
Porsche takes pride in building high-performance vehicles that are also fuel efficient, and the current-generation Cayenne is no exception. The latest versions of this SUV utilize forced-induction engines, and these yield high horsepower and torque while using less fuel than their normally aspirated counterparts. Auto start/stop technology helps the marque's engines yield more miles per gallon in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
A true luxury crossover SUV, the Cayenne arrives with a high level of standard features. Xenon headlights, lightweight alloy wheels, a power tailgate, heated mirrors and a split-folding rear seats are included on every model. Base models also come with Bluetooth connectivity and a touch-screen audio system. All second-generation Cayennes are available with front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera.
Often regarded as the leader in areas of performance, luxury and all-around levels of fit and finish, the Porsche Cayenne serves in many ways as the segment benchmark. Other competitors include the BMW X5, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Infiniti QX70.
Earlier Porsche Cayenne Models
The first-generation Cayenne, launched for the 2003 model year, took the automotive community by surprise, as it was the first foray into the SUV segment from a company known for building sports cars. The earliest Cayenne was powered by a 4.5-liter V8 engine good for 340 horsepower. A turbocharged variant with 450 horsepower was also offered. In 2004, Porsche would add a 247 horsepower V6 engine, replacing the V8 in the base model.
The Cayenne’s standard all-wheel drive, sharp six-speed automatic transmission and sport-tuned suspension result in a fun-to-drive crossover that lives up to the Porsche legacy. All models are nicely equipped with heated mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column and dual-zone automatic climate control.
In 2006, power for the top turbo model increased to an impressive 520 horsepower.
Refreshed for 2008, the Cayenne received a more aggressively styled front fascia and a new series of power plants. The mid-cycle refresh gave the Cayenne more power under the hood and added features such as adaptive headlights.