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.

Performance Pros

Porsche Cayenne

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.

Performance Cons

  • 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.

Interior Pros

  • 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.

Interior Cons

  • 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.