By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/1/2012
The Porsche Cayenne received a major revamp last year and now feels much better than the model introduced in 2003, benefiting from a reduction in weight and gains in both power and fuel efficiency. In short, it now feels less like an SUV and more like a Porsche. Yet the 5-passenger, 2-row Cayenne still offers the cargo-carrying capacity SUV owners crave, as well as surprising off-row prowess and the ability to tow more than 7,700 pounds. The 2012 Cayenne is available in four trim levels, including a hybrid, and ranges in price from under $50,000 for a base version with V6 and manual transmission to more than $120,000 for a fire-breathing twin-turbocharged V8.You'll Like This Car If...
If you seek a luxury carry-all that puts the "sport" in the sport utility vehicle, the Cayenne is a must for your shopping list. It doesn't hurt that this Porsche can also haul cargo - in addition to other things.
Following its 2011 remodel, the Cayenne isn't remarkably changed for 2012. Among the biggest new features is an optional power kit for the Cayenne Turbo that adds 40 horsepower to crank out a total of 540. The turbo version also gets slightly larger front disc brakes, and all models receive upgraded carpet in the cargo hull and on seatbacks.Driving It Driving Impressions
This latest Cayenne is much more Porsche-like in translating driver input into action versus its first-generation predecessor. With the ability to leap from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of over 172 mph, the Cayenne Turbo sets the benchmark for performance SUVs. But even a base Cayenne with manual transmission can hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds and attains a top speed of 142 mph. The Porsche Cayenne Hybrid is also impressive on the track (0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds), but in more normal driving around town, it suffers the little brake and throttle quirks of other hybrids. In general, this generation of Porsche Cayennes is quieter and more comfortable than the first generation, but they are still not the softest-riding in the class.Favorite Features
Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus
Porsche's PTV Plus torque-vectoring system sends more power to the outside rear wheel when cornering, helping the Cayenne track truer to steering input. When combined with active suspension management and dynamic chassis control, the 2012 Cayenne feels like a lightweight sports car instead of an SUV.
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake
At nearly $9,000, the Cayenne's optional ceramic-composite brakes are anything but cheap. But shorter braking distances, better fade resistance and rotor lifespan of up to 200,000 miles are very real benefits.
Sumptuous, finely stitched leather and overlays of wood and metal could very well let you think you're in a Porsche Panamera. Like that 4-door sibling, the Cayenne's cockpit is filled with enough buttons, knobs and other controls to make a fighter pilot wary. In addition to a sliding and reclining seat, rear passengers can be treated to in-car entertainment via LCD screens mounted in the front-seat headrests.
An abundance of muscular curves and a forward-leaning rear window convey the Cayenne's purpose of speed even while standing still. Big brake calipers peeking through the wheel wells also relay this Porsche's sporting ambitions. Black calipers signal a base V6 model, silver equal a Cayenne S or Cayenne S Hybrid, and red are for Cayenne Turbo. Yellow calipers are reserved for the high-end ceramic brake option. Up front, we like the larger trapezoidal grille of the Cayenne Turbo and its four exhaust outlets at the rear.Notable Standard Equipment
All 2012 Porsche Cayenne models come standard with all-wheel drive and a traction system meant to improve grip on road and off. Leather seating, a power liftgate, dual-zone climate control and a 10-speaker/100-watt audio system are also standard fare. All models except the base version with manual transmission feature start-stop technology, which stops the engine at idle to improve fuel economy.
Those seeking audio bliss can opt for the 16-speaker, 1,000-watt audio system from German hi-fi company Burmester. Heated and ventilated front seats, lane-change assist and adaptive cruise control can also be had. On the performance front, options include a torque-vectoring system and air suspension for enhanced handling, ceramic brakes for shorter stops, and underbody protection.Under the Hood
Four engine options are available in the 2012 Porsche Cayenne, beginning with the 3.8-liter V6 that makes 300 horsepower and is linked to a 6-speed manual transmission or, as with every other model in the lineup, an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic. Moving up to the Cayenne S brings a 400-horsepower naturally aspirated V8. The Cayenne S Hybrid employs a 333-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V6 along with two electric motors that add 47 horsepower to the equation. At the top of the lineup is the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, with its 500-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8. Every Cayenne comes with all-wheel-drive, and all engines feature direct injection.
2012 Porsche Cayenne
300 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg (manual), 16/23 mpg (automatic)
0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds (manual), 7.4 (automatic), Top speed: 142 mph
2012 Porsche Cayenne S
400 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 mpg
0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds, Top speed: 160 mph
2012 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid
3.0-liter supercharged V6 + two electric motors
380 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm (net system horsepower)
427 lb-ft of torque @ 1,000 rpm (net system torque)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/24 mpg
0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds, Top speed: 150 mph
2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
4.8-liter turbocharged V8
500 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 mpg
0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds, Top speed: 172 mph
A 2012 Porsche Cayenne begins at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $49,000, including destination, and can climb to more than $140,000 for a fully loaded Cayenne Turbo. The base price is in line with that of the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. When it comes time to sell, your Cayenne will retain its 5-year value very well - comparable to the M-Class and X5 - although it can't quite compete with the Q7, which boasts an exceptional resale value.