Intro: When the name "Porsche" comes to mind, sport utility vehicles are not the first vehicle you may think of, but the Cayenne SUV has been one of Porsche's best selling vehicles since it was first introduced in 2002. For 2011 the Cayenne has been redesigned. It's now lighter, and more focused on performing like its sportscar brethren.
A weight reduction of about 400 pounds is evident in the new Cayenne's more svelte appearance. True to form, the front end boasts the iconic Porsche styling, while out back the large "Porsche" lettering is a design cue finding its way onto other new Porsche models.
Performance: Trims for the Cayenne are Base, S, and Turbo. The base engine is a 300 horsepower 3.6-liter V6, sending power to either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. The Cayenne S gets a 400 horsepower 4.8-liter V8, while the Cayenne Turbo gets a 500 horsepower twin-turbocharged version of that V8. Both V8's send power to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, and all models send power to an advanced full time all wheel drive system.
To get the most capability out of the Cayenne, we suggest the available Porsche Traction Management, which has up to three off road modes, depending on model selected.
Fuel Economy: Here are the highest and lowest EPA estimates for fuel economy:
Features: Inside, the Cayenne is treated to a leather and chrome laden interior. The center console is higher than in the previous model so that controls rise to the driver's fingertips. Those controls include the heated front bucket seats, "Sport" mode toggle, and individual controls for the dual zone climate control.
The instrument panel features a performance-minded center tachometer and a very useful digital screen to its right. The screen is customizable via the toggle on the multifunction steering wheel, which also has push-pull gear changing.
Two options we recommend are the vivid navigation system, and the Bose audio package. Together they bring high tech functionality and amazing sound to the Cayenne.
Safety Features: Standard safety features include an automatic brake differential, Porsche stability management, brake pad wear indicators, and a full array of front and side impact airbags. A recommended option for those who often parallel park is the available front/rear park assist sensor system.
Pricing: Base MSRP for the 2011 Porsche Cayenne is $47,700. A range-topping Cayenne Turbo starts at $106,000
Warranty: The Cayenne is backed by a 4-year, 50,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Summary: With lavish premium appointments, available off-road options and Porsche's time honored adherence to a thrilling ride, the 2011 Cayenne takes its place as the standard bearer, for the performance-luxury SUV. (2:52)