The Porsche Cayenne, which won Motor Trend's SUV of the Year for 2011, carries over essentially unchanged into the new year.
Launched in 2002 as a 2003 model, the Cayenne is Porsche's first SUV, though the sports car company has years of experience from its involvement in military vehicles and off-roading like the Paris-Dakar endurance race. Porsche tapped partner Volkswagen and competitor Audi in developing the Cayenne which shares many of its mechanical underpinnings with the Audi Q7 and the VW Touareg SUVs.
The Porsche Cayenne underwent a significant refresh for the 2009 model, adding new engines and transmission. In 2010, the Cayenne went through another update for model year 2011 where the SUV received its current front, side, and rear styling. The 2011 update also reduced the Cayenne's weight by more than 500 pounds, introduced the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, and saw the debut of new, more powerful, engines and features. Most changes for 2012 include a reshuffling of features and packages.
Currently the 2012 Porsche Cayenne lineup includes the base Cayenne, the sporty Cayenne S, fuel-efficient Cayenne S Hybrid, and the powerful Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Like all Porsche vehicles, the Cayenne can be configured with a dazzling number of (expensive) options though each is well equipped with plentiful standard features. Options include different wheels, sunroof, rear-row DVD entertainment system, and premium stereo and speaker systems.
Body style: SUV
Engines: 3.6-liter V-6, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, 4.8-liter V-8, 4.8-liter twin turbo V-8, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 + electric motor
Transmissions: six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic
Models: Porsche Cayenne, Porsche Cayenne S, Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid, Porsche Cayenne Turbo
The Porsche Cayenne SUV was extensively revamped in 2011 and thus there are few changes for model year 2012, most of them new options. The 2012 Porsche Cayenne has available HID headlights with black trim, sport tailpipes, contrasting stitching, and mahogany trim. A new SportDesign package is available while the Cayenne Turbo gets an optional power kit, boosting its already prodigious output an additional 40 horsepower.
Exterior colors Sand Yellow and Amethyst have been dropped for 2012.
The Porsche Cayenne SUV was extensively revised for model year 2011, which included a new front, side, and rear design more in keeping with the Porsche design language. Judicious use of aluminum in the hood, doors, and decklid reduced the Cayenne SUV's weight by 400 pounds. These exterior changes carry over into the 2012 model year.
Porsche updated the Cayenne's interior as well as the exterior for the 2011 model year. Real leather, aluminum, and wood embrace driver and passengers in Porsche's trademark luxury. The instrument cluster and center stack are more high-tech while legroom in the rear row has also increased due to the increased distance between the front and rear wheels. All these changes carry over into the 2012 model year.
Performance & Handling
The 2012 Porsche Cayenne, as expected, is primarily a cruiser and functions best for long distance travel; any tall, two-ton vehicle isn't exactly at home on a twisty road. The steering system and all-wheel drive keep the Cayenne SUV feeling solid and straight, while the suspension system absorbs all but the most severe bumps, cracks, and road imperfections. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo provides exhilarating straight line acceleration.
Like all Porsche vehicles, the 2012 Porsche Cayenne is well-equipped with active and passive safety systems. Standard equipment includes a driver's knee air bag, and front, side, and side curtain bags. Other standard features include antilock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), and traction control. Tire pressuring monitoring system is also standard.
Excellent and available safety systems include blind-spot detection system, front and rear parking sensors, and backup camera. Rear-side air bags are also available.
All Porsche Cayenne models are all-wheel drive. This features helps keep the SUV feel more planted and in control when driving during adverse weather conditions like rain and snow.
EPA Fuel Economy
Porsche Cayenne: 15-16 mpg city / 22-23 mpg highway
Porsche Cayenne S: 16 mpg city / 22 mpg highway
Porsche Cayenne Hybrid: 20 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
Porsche Cayenne Turbo: 15 mpg city / 22 mpg highway
- Brand name
- Premium interior
- Off-roading capability
You Won't Like
- Lack of cargo space
Porsche dressed in SUV drag.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Audi Q7
- BMW X5
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