Though purists scoffed when Porsche first released its Cayenne mid-size SUV, the luxury 'ute soon became one the of the German automaker's best-selling (and most profitable) models. Now in its second-generation, the Cayenne offers the handling, comfort, and family-friendly size that made the original a hit in a lighter package with greater power and fuel efficiency.
Along with the eight-cylinder Cayenne S discussed herein, the SUV is also available as the V6-powered base Cayenne, the gas-electric Cayenne S Hybrid and the range-topping Cayenne Turbo. New additions to the model lineup include the efficient-yet-torquey Cayenne Diesel and the sporty Cayenne GTS.
The exterior of the latest Cayenne follows in Porsche's philosophy of evolutionary design, though it does feature a much sleeker appearance than the outgoing model thanks to more organic body lines.
With a redesigned interior packed with cues from the Panamera sedan, the Cayenne sports a long, sloping center console and a plethora of buttons and switches thanks to the lack of an iDrive-style control system. Thanks to the extra 1.6 inches in the wheelbase, cabin dimensions have grown from the old model. Rear-seats now enjoy 6.3 inches of fore-and-aft sliding, as well as an adjustable backrest.
Other interior features include Bluetooth, Bose surround sound and a Burmester high-end surround sound system.
The Cayenne range starts out in base Cayenne form, featuring a 300 horsepower 3.6-liter V6. But for those seeking the growl of a V8, there is of course the next step up: the Cayenne S.
The Cayenne S packs the Panamera's 400 horsepower, 369 lb-ft of torque 4.8-liter V8 engine, mated to the Tiptronic S automated transmission. This combo is good for a zero-to-60 jaunt of only 5.6 seconds, over a second faster than the base Cayenne. Top speed also increases from 142 mph to 160 mph.
Despite the added power, fuel economy nearly matches that of the V6-powered, manual-equipped V6 Cayenne at 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
From a handling standpoint, the latest Cayenne (except Turbo) comes standard with a steel suspension, but have for the first time available Porsche Active Suspension Management, or PASM. PASM is an advanced suspension system that provides for infinite damper control for both the front and rear axles, and a choice of three settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport.
All Cayenne S models come standard with dual front, side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assist.
Those looking for a mid-size luxury SUV with V8 haste should also consider alternatives to the Cayenne S such as the BMW X5 and the Infiniti FX50, while the Audi Q7 is also fleet of foot thanks to its supercharged V6.