By KBB.com Editors
When in 1998 Porsche announced it was going to build an SUV, the proclamation was greeted with scoffs and pure horror. How could Porsche turn its back on its heritage by introducing a lumbering sport utility vehicle, many asked. But days after the vehicle, called Cayenne, came to market in 2002, it was clearly a success. It didn't so much change Porsche's basic character as extend it, because the Cayenne quickly became renowned as the sports car of the SUV set—a vehicle with off-road credentials that was also a fulfilling to drive. Now the second generation of the Cayenne has arrived, and though it takes a practiced eye to discern the changes from the outside, the changes on the inside have enhanced its previously high capabilities. For example, power and fuel efficiency are both up across the board.
If you like the command-position of a taller vehicle and off-highway capability combined with an uncommon level of performance and handling, we think you'll like the Porsche Cayenne.
If you seek an SUV for the ability to tote and tow giant loads while feeling like a rec room on wheels, you may not find all you seek in the Cayenne.
Porsche calls its 2008 Cayenne the second generation of the vehicle, but that is not nearly as noticeable from the exterior styling as it is from the engine choices and the new level of equipment.
Driving Impressions While we expected the Porsche Cayenne to excel in spirited on-road driving, it was the extensive off-road driving we did in the Cayenne that was a revelation to us. Thanks...largely to its very sophisticated systems like the optional air suspension system, traction management and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, the Cayenne is a superior off-highway performer, making quick work of imposing grades. As you'd guess, the 500-horsepower Cayenne Turbo is an exciting performer, but buyers with smaller checking accounts (or perhaps simply more conservative with their auto expenditures) will find satisfaction in the V6-powered Cayenne and the V8-powered Cayenne S. In back-to-back comparison, the optional active Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control offers advantages in counteracting body roll but at a stiff price versus the already exemplary Cayenne suspension. For a vehicle with such a wide variety of capabilities, ride quality is excellent and attention to detail borders on sublime.
The Sport Button
There is something appealingly cartoon-like about a button on the dash that, when pushed, offers, as Porsche describes it, "extra dynamism." Who doesn't want that?
Real Off-Road Capabilities
It would have been simple for Porsche to go light on the all-terrain capabilities of its SUV, since it is likely many of its drivers will never venture off asphalt, so it is more than reassuring to know that Porsche engineers took their rough-country mandate seriously and created a vehicle that can slog through slime.
While the Cayenne is the most commodious of all Porsche models, its interior retains the same sophisticated luxury feel offered by sports cars like the 911. In proper Porsche fashion, the ignition lock is placed to the left of the steering column, while the instrument faces have the no-nonsense look of a sports model. The switches that adjust the suspension are integrated into a busy center console. The "offroad switch" is a toggle that allows quick adjustment of various chassis and suspension settings, and it is accompanied by the Sports button, which alters the responsiveness of the engine and the suspension. Both rows of seats are finished in leather, and leather also decorates the steering wheel rim, door handles, grab handles and other areas where many luxury models use simulated coverings. With rear seats up, the Cayenne accommodates a substantial 19 cubic feet of cargo, but unlike several other European luxury SUVs there is no third-row option.Exterior
If you are a fan of the previous-generation Porsche Cayenne, you will like the new model. The changes are subtle, but they make both esthetic and functional sense. For instance, the headlights have been moved to the outside of the front fascia and covered with clear glass, improving looks and offering an aerodynamic benefit. The coefficient of drag has been lowered substantially offering potential fuel economy benefits. Even the standard 17-inch wheels have presence, but the available 20- and 21-inch wheels really show off the huge brakes and calipers that are fitted on the car, a utilitarian style statement.
Befitting a Porsche SUV, the Cayenne is fitted with a highly sophisticated four-wheel-drive system called Porsche Traction Management (PTM). Using a multiplicity of sensors and inputs, PTM determines the optimum front-to-rear power split with the ability to provide up to 100 percent of engine torque to the front or rear wheels. Also standard is Porsche Stability Management (PSM), which guards against rollover and increases the effectiveness of the brakes on loose and slippery surfaces. Safety gear includes airbags for driver and front passenger, two thorax side airbags and two side curtain airbags. A full complement of convenience items like power seats, power door locks power-operated rear lift gate and 12-speaker audio system are also standard.
The most notable of the Cayenne's options is the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system, which uses computer-controlled hydraulics to counteract body roll in cornering and transient maneuvers. The system uses active, motor-driven anti-roll bars instead of passive anti-roll bars to aid the Cayenne in achieving flatter attitudes for a feeling of security. PDCC is only available on Cayennes affixed with the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) air suspension. Standard on the Cayenne Turbo and optional on Cayenne and Cayenne S, the system offers integrated self-leveling and ride-height adjustment depending upon conditions and driver desires. Somewhat more mundane but still useful options are a trailer hitch and a cargo-area management system.
The engines in the various Cayenne trim levels represent an embarrassment of riches. All threeש.6-liter V6, 4.8-liter V8 and 4.8-liter biturbo V8—offer more overall horsepower and torque output and better fuel economy than the previous Cayenne engine lineup. One key reason is the use of direct gasoline injection technology, which results in up to 15 percent lower fuel consumption plus up to 12 percent better vehicle acceleration. Variable valve timing and a two-stage input in the naturally aspirated V8 are other contributors.
290 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
273 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (manual and 6-speed automatic)
385 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
369 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/19 (w/6-speed automatic)
4.8-liter twin-turbo V8
500 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
516 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 (w/6-speed automatic)
By JFMIII on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Extremely fast and fun to drive!"
Cons: "Poor gas mileage & expensive to service and repair"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"If you are going to purchase a Cayenne, I can only suggest you get a Turbo. Even if you do not want to pay new car prices, find one that is a dealer lease return with some factory warranty still intact. I would also advise getting an extended warranty. Mine has paid for itself...Nothing major as far as repairs, but the parts can be costly."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Blake on Monday, August 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 170,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "smiles per gallen"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"best car ever,bought brand new 8 years ago wish i did not haft to give her up. my son is going to college so he needs a car instead of buying him a 115,000 2014 new cayenne just so he could wreck it like the panorama i gave to my older son then he totaled it in college so i gave him the 06 cayenne and i got the brand new 150,000 cayenne. so overall the cayenne is the suv to get its also super handling and power."
8 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By cn1057 on Sunday, August 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 208,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "The engine is a strong V8 that seems to go and go"
Cons: "Everything else except the engine"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought an 04 Cayenne S new thinking I was buying a great vehicle that would last a long time with minimal maintenance. When spending $70,000 in 2004 for a car one would think it should be solid. Think again! It's not the engine, it's everything around it that goes bad. Coolant Pipes exploded (lawsuit ongoing)$1500. Fuel Pump $500 twice (same one) Drive Shaft $900 (went out at 60,000 miles) Wheel bearings $600, Rear Transfer Case while in the mountains with no cell service and 4 hours from home. Porsche in the North Carolina mountains. wants $6,000 to fix! Got it done for $1,800 back home. Rear Main Seal $900. Gear knob $500. Water Pump $1200. Hatch Strut $500 twice. That's about $15,500 repairs that I can remember!!! Easily add another couple grand on minor things I can't remember and another $3,000-$5,000 on misc maintenance. That's roughly $20,000-$25,000 to own this junk!!! Last week I had to walk away from a conversation with Porsche Service who said "Yes the drive shafts go out around 70,000 miles. That's how they're designed. If they didn't you wouldn't have bought the car because the driving experience would feel average." Wow!!! Great sales slogan. Had I been told the drive shaft is designed to fail at 70k, oh and the coolant pipes will most likely explode while driving, I can promise you I would have bought ANYTHING else and saved my money. I can't speak for models after 2006 but if you're looking to buy a used Cayenne DON"T BUY YEARS 2004-2006."
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By JD305 on Sunday, June 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,750overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smiles Per Gallon!"
Cons: "NONE ... if Sports and Utility is your thing!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My first Porsche! I could never afford a brand new one, so I am part of that demographic that has to wait until they come down in price. I can honestly say (not because I own one) but it has been a great experience owning a 2008 Cayenne S. When people talk about cars and gas mileage, they talk about "miles per gallon" ... a Porsche owner talk about "smiles per gallon!!!' Every morning when I turn on the ignition (on the left hand side) ... this SUV roars ALIVE!!! It's a great feeling...that sound is my 'cup of coffee' in the morning! The comfort and utility of an SUV with the agility and power of a 911 carrera! Great handling around corners and enough power to pass most any car on the road. Comfort ride and a superior build quality that you can always expect from a German made vehicle! The only reason I would sell my Cayenne S ... is to upgrade to a GTS or Turbo! Which I will be doing soon!"
11 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Nosubsti2t on Thursday, May 29, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Expensive and unreliable
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"OK, it is a very fun to drive SUV. This was an $85000 vehicle when it was sold. I was the third owner, but got the maintenance records from the previous owner. He spent over $15000 during the last 4years he owned it for service and repairs. I purchased an extended warranty at about 66000 miles that ultimately paid out over $10000 in just 1year. This vehicle left me stranded twice within the first 5 months I owned it. So there is definitely a problem with a vehicle that costs this much new, then requires tens of thousands of dollars to keep it going for 80000 miles. If this is quality I am not seeing it. Why can't they make it last and be a reliable vehicle for nearly the price of the average home in America? Yes it is fun to drive, but a vehicle has to be more than that! If you buy a first generation Cayenne, get a good extended warranty or plan to pay $269 per oil change, $2600 every tune up, and it will need tires every 15-20k miles ( $1300-$1600) a set plus about $300 for the alignment. The coolant pipes will burst and that will cost about $3000 plus there will be uv joint problems, and starter problems that will cost $1500-$2000 to fix each. The navigation system is useless! Still want one?"
13 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By TURBOCAYENNE on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive"
Cons: "Dealer is a little far from where I live"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the best SUV in the planet! The turbo with PDCC is as fast as a 911. Awesome vehicle. Reliable too! My next car will be a Porsche Cayenne."
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful