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.You'll Like This Car If...
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.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's New for 2008
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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)
The Porsche Cayenne is offered in three distinct trim levels with the highest-priced version, the Cayenne Turbo retailing for about twice as much as the base Cayenne. The V6-powered Cayenne's starting price is about $45,000; the naturally aspirated V8-powered Cayenne S has a starting price of about $59,000; and the twin turbocharged Cayenne Turbo retails for about $95,000. Both V6- and V8-powered Cayennes' prices are similar to those of the competitive BMW X5 and Audi Q7 models. On the upper end of the spectrum, the supercharged version of the Range Rover Sport is some $20,000 less expensive than the Cayenne Turbo but also offers 110 fewer horsepower. We expect the Porsche Cayenne to enjoy very high re-sale value, topping the impressive residual values of competitors like the X5, Q7 and Range Rover Sport. Porsche Cayennes frequently sell near, at or even above manufacturer's suggested list prices.