Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
Cayenne Turbo pushes the vehicle further toward track-car territory
and away from the soccer mom scene.
The all-new 2019
model, featuring a new engine, chassis, suspension, brakes and more,
will now turn any Walmart parking lot into a lap at Willow Springs.
This is an essential
vehicle for the German car company. Once derided by car snobs as a
people pleaser and a cheap bid for popularity, the Cayenne is now
Porsche’s top-selling vehicle. As of March, it is far outselling
the popular, less sporty Macan SUV and, for 2019 so far, has sold
more units than all of Porsche’s other vehicles combined.
The new version, in
its Turbo iteration, is powered by a twin-turbocharged four-liter
V-8 engine that makes 541 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque.
(The Cayenne also can be had in other trims — the standard Cayenne
with a mono-turbo three-liter V-6 engine, the Cayenne S with a
twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6, and the E Hybrid with a combination of the
V-6 and an electric motor.)
That beefy power
plant, new for 2019, is capable of pushing this 5,000-pound grocery
hauler from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds, and to a top
track speed of 177 mph.
There’s even a
“sport response” button that will maximize power for a short
20-second burst of acceleration for passing or, presumably, showing
Porsche has mated
that new engine to an undated version of its eight-speed automatic
transmission, fitted with paddle shifters, that the company boasts
will offer quicker shifting and better throttle response. The first
gear has been made shorter to assist in towing and allow a towing
capacity of 7,700 pounds, while the seventh and eighth gears are
taller and have a coast function to improve high-speed highway
driving and increase fuel economy.
The transmission is
an all-wheel-drive setup that offers a variety of on-road and
off-road settings to ensure the Cayenne does its job on all
terrains. On the Turbo, the “normal” and “sport” options are
joined by “sport plus” and “individual” settings for spicier
Cayenne cruising. In the sportier settings, the suspension drops,
the shift points quicken and the rooftop spoiler angles in to help
keep the car steady on the ground at high speeds.
On all the Cayennes,
there is also the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control system,
which adds rear-axle steering — a first for the Cayenne, where the
rear wheels turn slightly to improve cornering precision — and
anti-roll bars. Upping the sports car side of this SUV’s
personality, Porsche has also given the Cayenne staggered tires for
the first time. That means the front tires and rear tires are no
longer all the same size — bigger ones on the back for maximum
traction and smaller ones in front to maximize handling.
prepare the vehicle for gravel, mud, sand and rocks, while offering
three chassis heights to maximize ground clearance — 9.4 inches in
its tallest setting.
It did not appear to
me that the sportier adjustments diminished comfort or luxury. The
Cayenne interior is elegant and snug, with the feel of a very
high-end cockpit, clothed in leather — now standard on all trim
lines — and dripping with chrome. It felt a little like Berlin in
the 1930s, or something from the set of the first “Batman”
The spacious front
seats are 14-way adjustable. The rear seats, also spacious, get
their own climate control, reading lamps, coat hooks and USB and
12-volt outlets. They can be folded down to increase cargo space to
59 cubic feet — plenty of room to store golf bags, camping gear or
more than you really needed to buy from Costco.
Sadly, that enormous
sun roof, which extends from windshield to past the back seats,
cracks open only an inch.
I’ve always enjoyed
the Cayennes, and I liked this one better than the previous
iterations. Around town, it’s easy to operate — the
state-of-the-art sensors and cameras help, and add to the already
excellent visibility — and on the highway it’s a delight. The
safety and driver-assist features, predictably, were a paragon of
I didn’t have time
to thrash it properly outdoors, and the spring weather didn’t give
me a chance to dance it over any local snow or ice. I was very sorry
to see it go when my allotted time was up.
What didn’t I like?
Not much, except some of the bottom-line numbers. I do wish a
vehicle of this power and grace could get better fuel economy. And
then there’s the real bottom line. Though the entry-level Cayenne
starts at $66,950, the Turbo model can’t be had for under about
twice that — base price, $125,850 — and gets more expensive
quickly with the addition of luxury or performance enhancements.
But as the
Cayenne’s success demonstrates, apparently there are plenty of
people — soccer moms and otherwise — willing to pony up.
2019 Porsche Cayenne
Best-in-class SUV got better
quick, SUV solid
Lows: Um, the MSRP?
Four-door, five-passenger SUV
Base price: $125,850
Price as tested:
Four-liter, turbocharged V-8 gasoline engine
Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic
economy rating: 15 miles per gallon city / 19 highway / 17 combined