The first generation Cayenne was heavy, it could definitely go off road and it was much more capable then most any owner would ever demand of it. But was it a good vehicle? That depends on your definition of good.
As I just mentioned above, the first generation was heavy. The interior was not made of the best quality materials in certain spots (far too many certain spots). Sure, it could go off road but who really did that with it once they owned it?
What about on-road driving? Yeah it drove like a Porsche of SUVs, but you could feel the heft. Yet despite that, the first generation Cayenne quickly become the best-selling Porsche model. So did the second-generation fix those problems and finally become the true Porsche of SUV’s?
The front of the Cayenne has evolved. It has taken on the look of the new Panamera sedan. The headlights are very similar and the LED daytime running lights are great looking. The rear is no longer blocky and square looking, rather it has hips (if you will) and they curve with the tail lights which are LED and very bright at night. The tail lights are also similar to those found on the new Panamera. The sides have a nip and tuck towards the bottom with some nice sculpting. The exterior has been throughly updated and overall feels more taught. The styling falls right in line with the new Panamera.
As mentioned before, the last generation’s Cayenne interior was nothing to write home about. In fact it was worse then that, but we wont go into that. Good news! The interior of the latest Cayenne is all that and a bag of Skittles. Have you been in the new Panamera? Have you been in the last generation Cayenne? Mix the few good things from the old Cayenne and most everything else from the new Panamera and you have the new Cayenne. The grab handles between the seats are still there, but the rest was dumped for the new Panamera interior. The center console rises to meet the dash between the seats. The touch screen works well and is not ridiculously confusing. The materials are top notch, though like the Panamera there is a sea of buttons. Luckily, they are grouped together by function. The rear seats slide fore and aft to either give rear seat occupants more leg room or to gain more cargo room. The interior fit and finish, along with materials all meet the bar that was raised in the Porsche line up by the Panamera.
The new Cayenne has three current engine choices, with a hybrid model on the way. For now, we will focus on the Cayenne S model I was in. The Cayenne S features the same 4.8-liter direct-injection V-8 that is in the Panamera S sedan. Pumping out 400 horsepowerp and 369 lb-ft to all four wheels, this is no slouch of an engine. The power is put down through an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Note that this is not the newer PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) transmission in some other new Porsches. This setup is good for a quoted 5.6 second 0-60 run and a top speed of 160 mph (after all, it is a Porsche). The Cayenne S is rated at 16/22 MPG and I saw an average of 16.2 mpg in mixed city driving. The engine features auto start/stop technology for fuel savings at stop lights and in heavy traffic.
This is only when enough energy has been stored from braking. It is fairly smooth and not intrusive, but you can notice when the V-8 shuts down and starts up. To lose some of that weight (the new Cayenne is over 400 pounds lighter then the last generation) Porsche dropped the mechanical locking differential and went to a electronic locking differential, among other things. The weight loss is hugely noticeable! It feels like the Cayenne went to fat kid camp and came back not only looking leaner, but driving leaner as well.
Overall, this new Cayenne is better in every way compared the original. I sincerely doubt most any owner is going to miss the mechanical locking differential and accompanying hardware. The weight loss is noticeable and makes for a better overall vehicle. The look is leaner, more taught and overall a nice evolution.
The Cayenne S has a base price of $63,700, but as with any Porsche the options list is more then plentiful and they add up quite quickly. The options list on this exact Cayenne S is a small laundry list but added up to a total of $21,940! Again, that was not fully loaded. Total price for the Cayenne S I was in came to $86,615.
While that is not a cheap date, it certainly more worthy of its price tag then the last-generation Cayenne. This lighter, more luxurious, better handling, better looking Cayenne is the Porsche of SUV’s. One last thing – there is a lot of competition with more coming so while it is the Porsche of SUV’s, is that enough? Probably, and it will most likely continue to be one of Porsche’s best selling vehicles, right next to the Panamera.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by a local Porsche dealership