One of the few dedicated performance crossover models, the five-passenger Cayenne offers all-weather capability along with exhilarating handling and potent acceleration on dry pavement. The uninitiated will be amazed at how well a vehicle with four doors and cargo space can deliver genuine sports car excitement. Cayennes come in a broad range of performance levels, with turbocharged V6 and V8 engines that range from 300 to 570 horsepower.
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2017 Porsche Cayenne Overview
What's New for 2017
A new Platinum Edition model has joined the Cayenne lineup, with a sportier appearance that includes 20-inch RS Spyder wheels. All Cayenne models get the latest update of the Porsche Communication Management system. In the wake of the falsified-emissions scandal at Volkswagen, Porsche’s parent company, a diesel engine is no longer available.
Choosing Your Porsche Cayenne
With the departure of the diesel engine, the base Cayenne engine is a 3.6-liter gasoline V6 that develops 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg in city driving and 24 mpg on the highway.
The Cayenne S steps way up to a 420-horsepower twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6, generating 406 pound-feet. Fuel economy is estimated at 17/24 mpg (city/highway). In the GTS edition, V6 output rises to 440 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, with a 16/23 mpg gas-mileage estimate.
Performance really takes off in the Turbo model, with its twin-turbo 4.8-liter V8 whipping up 520 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. So equipped, the Cayenne can hit 60 mph in as little as 4.1 seconds and reach a track speed of 173 mph. In top Turbo S trim, the V8's output increases to 570 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, shrinking the sprint to 60 mph to just 3.8 seconds.
An eight-speed automatic transmission mates with each engine.
Porsche’s sophisticated all-wheel-drive system includes two off-road modes and a locking rear differential. Cayennes can tow up to 7,716 pounds, which is a lot more than you’d expect from a performance crossover.
A separate trim level corresponds to each available engine:
Available options range from high-end sound systems and rear-seat entertainment to sport exhaust systems, to such performance extras as Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus and ceramic composite brakes. Premium and Premium Plus option packages add various convenience features, such as front/rear parking sensors, auto-dimming mirrors, and comfort lighting. Enthusiasts should appreciate the Sport Chrono package, which adds a Sport Plus driving mode with launch control, along with in-dash analog and digital stopwatches.
Because the price difference between most models is substantial, some careful thought is needed making a decision—which is made even harder with the many available options The Cayenne S is very competitively priced for a performance-luxury crossover of this capability. The V8-powered Turbo and Turbo S are emphatically more exclusive, and priced accordingly.
2017 Porsche Cayenne Review
The Cayenne contradicted the Porsche ethos when it first hit showrooms in 2003, but it’s now one of the brand’s top-selling models, its sales helping finance low-profit projects like the 918 Spyder. That said, it still runs counter the typical Porsche grain, as its base model leaves a lot of performance potential on the table in favor of providing a low-for-a-Porsche base price that more families can afford.
Pricing and Equipment
With a starting price of $60,650 (destination fees included), the Cayenne is pricey for a crossover but relatively affordable as a Porsche. Because the Cayenne caters to more mainstream buyers, the base model is likely the most popular trim. This crossover is well-equipped with premium features, like:
- Eighteen-inch wheels
- Xenon headlights
- Heated, power-folding mirrors
- Power liftgate
- Partial-leather upholstery
- Ten-speaker stere
Including its four other trims and dozens of standalone options, there is plenty of customization available that can shoot the Cayenne’s price well over $150,000.
While the base model may be more of a mainstream luxury vehicle, the Cayenne’s higher trims quickly propel it into insane levels of performance.
- Handling is superb in the S, GTS, Turbo, and Turbo S trims.
- Above the base model's 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 the Cayenne’s engines are very Porsche-like. A twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V6 is available in either a 420- or 440-horsepower guise on the S and GTS, respectively, while the Turbo and Turbo S use a twin-turbo, 4.8-liter V8 – the former produces 520 hp while the latter pumps out 570 ponies.
- Acceleration to 60 mph is incredible above the base model, ranging from 5.2 seconds in the Cayenne S to a wild 3.8 seconds in the Turbo S model.
- The air suspension and anti-roll system make the Cayenne far more agile than most of its competitors.
- The base 3.6-liter V6 may disappointment the typical Porsche buyer with its very average 7.3-second 0-to-60 time.
- From bottom to top, the Cayenne is one thirsty beast, ranging from 17 miles per gallon combined in the Turbo S to 20 mpg combined in the base trim.
- The range of customization is incredible, like all Porsche models.
- The cabin relies on dozens of buttons within the driver’s reach instead of a complex array of menus on a touchscreen.
- The Cayenne’s seats are supportive and comfortable, and they place the driver in a great position for optimal visibility.
- The button-heavy interface could be a little overwhelming at first (muscle memory does develop quickly, though).
- Customization is an expensive proposition for some families, due to the numerous high-cost extras available.
- For its size, the cabin feels smaller than it should, mostly due to its sloping roof.
- The lack of a third row eliminates it from contention for larger families.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
For a larger crossover, the Porsche Cayenne’s handling with the right option boxes checked is far better than we could have ever expected. The air suspension, anti-roll system, and larger wheel options do a fantastic job keeping this 4,488-plus-pound crossover on its best behavior.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
While its base price is not bad for the badge it wears, the Cayenne quickly gets ridiculously expensive. This is especially true for buyers looking for true Porsche-like performance, as the lowest-cost model that offers this is the $77,250 S trim.
The Bottom Line
The Cayenne is a superb luxury vehicle in its base trim, but it’s not going to live up to the Porsche reputation without ponying up a lot more cash for higher and more powerful trims. However, buyers with a larger budget can unlock an unmatched level of performance in a larger crossover.