When it comes to luxury SUVs, some like it hot. The 2018 Porsche Cayenne pushes all the right buttons in terms of looks, performance, and interior amenities. On the flip side, prices can shoot up quickly, making this SUV easily one of the most expensive models of its kind.

Best Value

The 2018 Porsche Cayenne is a mid-size luxury SUV offering room for five with standard all-wheel drive. You'll find a family of strong gasoline engines and a hybrid drivetrain – sorry, there's no diesel in the mix. Porsche offers six trims: base, Platinum, S, GTS, Turbo, and Turbo S. The E-Hybrid model comes in S and Platinum editions.

The base model doesn’t offer quite the level of amenities you’d expect in a luxury SUV. Choosing the Cayenne S brings in a twin-turbocharged engine, electric power steering, and front and rear parking sensors. You also get 19-inch wheels, a sunroof, and driver seat memory. We added several options that upgraded this model’s appearance inside and out as well as its overall performance. Here's how we'd build ours:

  • Model: 2018 Porsche Cayenne S
  • Engine: 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Output: 420 hp / 406 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 17 City / 24 Hwy
  • Options: Sport Package ($5,990, analog and digital stopwatch, air suspension, Porsche Active Suspension Management [PASM], sports exhaust system, two dual-tube aluminum polished tailpipes, a performance display), Carrara White Metallic paint ($800), 14-Way Power Seats with Memory Package ($1,510), leather seat trim with leather interior ($3,660).
  • Base Price: $78,450 (including the $1,050 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $90,410

Performance

Porsche Cayenne

Even the base Cayenne is fast, but the 2018 Porsche Cayenne S offers a nice middle ground between the base and top trims. This one is powered by a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that generates 420 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, good for a zero-to-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds. Porsche marries this engine to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

It helps that the Cayenne has an excellent steering rack and a robust suspension system to go with it. In the handling department, this SUV benefits from a torque vectoring system that distributes power around the Porsche’s all-wheel-drive system to assist in cornering. Body roll isn’t entirely done away with, but it's manageable and even quite fun.

Style

Design elements of the 911 are apparent on this SUV, but only lightly so. The Cayenne has been on the market long enough for us to accept a Porsche SUV, although there are die-hard holdouts out there. Happily, this model strikes its own approach to the market with its curvy layout and handsome details.

What’s familiar here is the headlight design, which it shares with other Porsche models. The long hood is imposing, but it isn’t an overwrought look. The rear suggests a powerful haunch, but it doesn’t go further than that. We’re glad because when you add all the elements together, you come away with a sensible design.

Inside, the cabin is very comfortable, quiet, and beautifully decorated. We find the Cayenne easy to get in and out of. The driving position doesn’t pretend to mimic Porsche’s sports cars, but it's snug and sporty. The build quality is excellent, though there's more room up front then there is in the back and the cargo space is actually smaller than what most rivals offer.

The Best and Worst Things

You can build the Porsche Cayenne in most any way you want. Yes, there are packages that bundle some of your favorite features, but you also have a choice of individual items. Porsche tries to have something for everyone and that’s a good thing. With so many choices, however, prices can quickly climb. Our sample build tops $90,000, but that’s far below the six-figure number that's easily within reach. The top-end model is extremely expensive and hard to justify from a cost perspective, except for people whose budgets allow it.

Right For? Wrong For?

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche came out with the Cayenne and followed up years later with the Macan. The idea for these two models plus the Panamera sedan was to keep Porsche owners in the fold. Porsche has succeeded in this endeavor. On the other hand, if you’re expecting strong off-road chops, this isn’t the SUV you want. With the right equipment you can handle moderate off-road duty, but you won’t be following a Jeep anywhere it climbs.

The Bottom Line

The 2018 Porsche Cayenne is a standout in a crowded field of luxury SUV models. There are so many ways you can build one and the result is a thoroughly capable road cruiser. Keep a close eye on the options packages. Otherwise, your costs may quickly exceed your budget.