Buyers Guide

Porsche Cayenne

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Porsche Cayenne

Porsche’s Cayenne was the first crossover that the German automaker added to its lineup, and although it did cause a stir in the enthusiast community, it has since become one of its best-selling vehicles. The Cayenne lineup has also grown extensively and now includes a number of performance variants as well as a plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 14 miles in EV mode.


Introduced for the 2003 model year, the first-generation Porsche Cayenne represented a major move for the German automaker as it marked its entry into the SUV segment. The Cayenne launched with the Cayenne S, powered by a 340-hp 4.5-liter V-8, and the Cayenne Turbo and Turbo S making 450 hp using a twin-turbocharged version of that engine. A base V-6 model was added in 2004, powered by a 247-hp 3.2-liter V-6 until 2007 when it was replaced by a 290-hp 3.6-liter unit. In 2006, the Cayenne Turbo S arrived with a 520-hp version of the twin-turbo V-8. A six-speed manual or six-speed automatic were the transmission choices available for the first-generation model. Porsche refreshed the car for the 2008 model year, which saw the addition of the 405-hp Cayenne GTS, slotting between the Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo. The Cayenne S switched to the same 4.8-liter V-8 as the Cayenne GTS but it was tuned down to 385 hp. Turbo and Turbo S variants received a twin-turbocharged variant of the 4.8-liter V-8 rated at 500 hp and 540 hp respectively.

The second-generation Cayenne was introduced in 2010 for the 2011 model year, and for the first time, it was available as a hybrid. Base models retain the carryover 3.6-liter V-6 but it’s now rated at 300 hp while the Cayenne S and GTS retain the same 4.8-liter V-8 now rated at 400 hp and 420 hp, respectively. The Cayenne S Hybrid, on the other hand uses a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 coupled to an electric motor for a combined output of 380 hp. A six-speed manual gearbox was offered only for a few years but it was eventually discontinued leaving the eight-speed automatic as the only transmission available. The Cayenne Turbo and Turbo S feature a carryover turbocharged 4.8-liter V-8 from the previous models.

Motor Trend named the second-generation Cayenne the 2011 SUV of the Year due to its improved powertrain, attractive exterior design, and excellent driving dynamics on- and off-road. “It’s that breadth of performance capability, combined with the Cayenne’s roomy and comfortable interior and reasonably capacious cargo hold, that helped it nail our performance of intended function criteria. With strong showings in the engineering excellence and efficiency areas, attractive exterior and thoughtful interior design, a full roster of active and passive safety gear and the value rating fig leaf of the V-6’s affordable opening price, the Cayenne won over the thoughtful adults as well as the boy-racers to win by a supermajority,” we said.

The Latest Generation

Porsche refreshed the Cayenne for the 2015 model year and along with it was a new plug-in hybrid variant that replaces the standard hybrid. Dubbed the Cayenne S e-Hybrid, this electrified SUV uses the same powertrain combination as the old car but it is now coupled to a more powerful electric motor for a combined output of 416 hp and 435 lb-ft. The Cayenne S and GTS now use a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 rated at 420 hp and 406 lb-ft, and 440 hp and 442 lb-ft, respectively. Porsche also upgraded the 4.8-liter twin-turbo V-8, which now makes 520 hp and 553 lb-ft in the Cayenne Turbo and 570 hp and 590 lb-ft in the Turbo S.

In a 2016 First Drive of the refreshed Cayenne GTS and Turbo S, we said that both cars are “brash and rorty when you want them to be, quiet and civilized when you don’t.” Both cars also featured well-trimmed interiors with high quality materials. The GTS, however, is sportier than the Turbo S especially when equipped with the available air suspension and sport exhaust.

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