Porsche has hit some roadblocks in their mission to bring a sports-car ethos to larger cars, but they’ve gamely kept up the fight (probably because it’s making them gobs of money). The good news is that they keep getting better – the 2018 Porsche Panamera puts its aesthetic woes in the past and does its best 911 impression. With a staggering 16 models to choose from, it’s one of the most tempting luxury sedans on the market, as long as you have deep pockets, that is.

Best Value

The Panamera E-Hybrid makes a compelling bid, but, in the end, Porsches are about driving, and that means the Panamera 4S wins out for its lower weight and traditional brake feel. In the conventional body style, if you please – the Sport Turismo looks sharp, but the minimal extra cargo space comes at about $3,650 per cubic foot. The 4S starts at $104,050 and gets the twin-turbo V6, which produces 440 horsepower while managing respectable mileage. It comes standard with the usual Porsche comforts, including front and rear parking sensors, navigation, heated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

In addition to the beefier engine, the 4S opens up options for adaptive suspension and rear-wheel steering (which you’ll want). With a couple tasteful package and option selections, you can have a car for all occasions without straying too far from $100,000. Here’s what it would look like:

  • Model: 2018 Porsche Panamera 4S
  • Engine: 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6
  • Output: 440 hp / 405 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 21 City / 28 Hwy
  • Options: Metallic exterior color ($830), Sport Package ($6,940, adaptive suspension, active suspension management, rear-axle steering, Sport Plus mode, personalized performance settings, launch control, sport exhaust), Premium Package ($3,860, keyless entry, remote start, 14-way power seats with memory, blind-spot monitoring, Bose surround sound system), Voice Control ($0)
  • Base Price:$104,050 (including the $1,050 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$115,680

Performance

Porsche Panamera

The Panamera boasts impressive performance throughout the lineup. The cheapest Panamera will still sprint to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds, and the Turbo drops a full two seconds off that time. Turbo and electric powertrains mean wide torque availability and everyday usability. Handling and grip are as formidable as you’d expect from a Porsche, but refined enough to be comfortable on longer journeys. The eight-speed PDK gearbox functions just fine as an automatic, but will also let you fire off lightning-quick shifts with the paddles behind the wheel.

The Panamera manages its bulk well, but it's not a light car at 4,001 pounds. E-Hybrid models add up to an additional 1,000 pounds, which dampens the fun to be had in corners. E-Hybrid models also suffer from awkward brake feel because of overlap between mechanical and regenerative braking. The Panamera is capable in all guises, but hybrid models are best suited to those who are willing to sacrifice a little responsiveness for efficiency.

Style

The first Panamera was – how do we put this – quirky in the looks department, but the 2018 version is a step up in all respects. The roofline is slightly lower, complemented by a long hood and wide hips designed with the 911 in mind. Wraparound taillights are connected with a thin strip of LEDs, and elegant chrome badging is the cherry on top. The interior is tech-focused and comfortable, with capacitive touch switches and a central 12.3-inch screen.

The lower roofline means that head room is only average, and cargo capacity is more in line with a sedan than a hatchback. If you were hoping to seat five, look elsewhere. The Panamera Sport Turismo is available with a rear bench, but the middle is nowhere you'd want to sit for very long.

The Best and Worst Things

The handling and performance are everything we hoped, but it would be nice if the Sport Turismo could add more space (or a real fifth seat).

Right For? Wrong For?

Porsche Panamera

The Panamera is an excellent choice for a wide variety of buyers. It’s as good on a back road as it is a daily driver. It’s perfect for the parent who can’t quite get away with driving a sports car, but still wants a car with real verve. As a bonus, the all-wheel drive means the Panamera can thrive in any climate.

If the family includes five, however, it’s best to look elsewhere. The Panamera also won’t replace a crossover or SUV – it carries more like a spacious sedan than a true hatchback.

The Bottom Line

Minor annoyances aside, it’s hard to find a real downside to the 2018 Porsche Panamera. The styling is more palatable than ever, the fun factor is plentiful, and it's easy to find your preferred level of performance and luxury with the wide array of models. The days when purists can claim that the Panamera isn't a true Porsche ought to be at a close.