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 - especially in potent Turbo form.
Along with the Cayenne Turbo discussed herein, the SUV is also available as the V6-powered base Cayenne, the eight-cylinder Cayenne S and the gas-electric Cayenne S Hybrid. New additions to the model lineup include the efficient-yet-torquey Cayenne Diesel, the sporty Cayenne GTS, and the new range-topper in the Cayenne Turbo S.
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 tame 300 horsepower 3.6-liter V6. One step up in the Cayenne S, packing the Panamera's 400 horsepower 4.8-liter V8 engine. But for those seeking a blend of true performance and utility, the Cayenne Turbo sits nearly at the top of the Cayenne hierarchy and it awaiting you with a 500 horsepower, 516 lb-ft of torque twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8. It's overshadowed only by the new, 550-horsepower Cayenne Turbo S.
The result? Sprinting from a dead stop to 60 miles per hour in a scant 4.4 seconds.
Although fuel economy has never been a strong suit for the Cayenne, Porsche has vastly improved fuel consumption across the range for the new generation. The Cayenne Turbo is 23 percent more fuel efficient than the model it replaces, and now achieves 15 mpg city, 22 highway.
Like all new Cayenne models, the Turbo also features Start/Stop technology, which shuts off the combustion engine while the vehicle is stopped.
From a handling standpoint, the latest Cayenne Turbo comes standard with the Porsche Active Suspension Management, or PASM, while the technology is only an option on other models.
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.
Also contributing to handling is a new active all-wheel drive system with an electronically controlled multiple-plate clutch. This new AWD system reduces weight, and it can also be paired (for the first time) with Porsche's Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus option.
All Cayenne Turbo 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.
For those unwilling to compromise on anything (expect for fuel economy), high-performance SUVs provide blistering acceleration, family-friendly space and decent handling given their size bunk. Besides the Cayenne Turbo, options in this segment include the BMW X5 M, the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the Range Rover Sport Supercharged and, for those willing to trade a bit of power for a much lower purchase price, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.