2019 Porsche Cayenne First Drive
- All-new lightweight chassis
- New, more powerful, turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
- Complete redesign of the passenger cabin
- Improved driving dynamics for sportier handling
- Standard 19-inch wheels
Lighter and faster, the sportier third-generation 2019 Porsche Cayenne drives more like a 911 than the outgoing version, and with a starting base price of $65,700.
How are the driving dynamics on the 2019 Porsche Cayenne improved?
With an all-new chassis made of 47-percent aluminum, the Cayenne is 120 pounds lighter and up to 1.4 seconds faster to 60 mph depending on which model you drive. Replacing the naturally-aspirated 3.6-liter V6 is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that develops 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque (a twin-turbo V6 is available in the Cayenne S, while the Cayenne Turbo gets a twin-turbo V8). Top speed with the standard engine is 152 mph.
Porsche reconfigured the engine so the turbo sits between the cylinder banks instead of beneath it, making the entire package more compact and allowing the powerplant to be mounted lower into the body of the Cayenne (engineers call this a “hot V” configuration). This position lowers the Cayenne’s center of gravity, anchoring it for better balance at higher speeds and especially around turns.
A new 8-speed transmission delivers that power expeditiously and smoothly. While not the lightning-fast PDK dual-clutch gearbox used in Porsche’s smaller Macan, the ZF-sourced automatic works better in the Cayenne because it is smoother (more luxurious) and it delivers improved towing capability.
A new aluminum front axle with a multi-link design replaces the traditional double wishbone setup to help in the weight reduction department, and also improves steering response. Turn-in on this midsize luxury SUV is stunningly quick and precise for a sport-utility vehicle.
Active Porsche Traction Management comes standard on all models, enhancing the Cayenne's all-wheel-drive capability by shifting power and torque to either the front or rear axle as is needed in specific driving conditions. An off-road package adjusts the suspension and traction system for driving in mud, snow, sand and dirt — for those who venture off the beaten path. Coupled with the 2019 Cayenne’s 9.4 inches of ground clearance, this is a sporty and capable SUV.
It’s an SUV, but is the 2019 Porsche Cayenne's ride comfortable?
Steel springs make up the standard suspension, which feels firm and even jerky at times, making for a more visceral ride feel. To that suspension, you can add PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), which includes dual-mode shock absorbers and adapts to changes in road conditions and your driving style.
At the top of the Cayenne's ride/handling ladder is an optional air suspension system that includes five additional ride heights, and both smooths the ride and sharpens the overall handling. For a majority of people using the Cayenne as their daily driver instead of a track toy, the air suspension should land in the must-add category from Porsche’s encyclopedic option sheet.
Porsche’s standard brakes are excellent, but if a driver wants more stopping power there are two additional options. The tungsten carbide surface coated brakes are massive 16.3-inch rotor, 10-piston caliper monsters that aggressively squeeze the wheels to a decisive stop. That coating also reduces fade and brake dust by about 90 percent, according to Porsche. For those seeking even more braking capacity, the automaker’s carbon-ceramic brakes (PCCB) may also be ordered. While we are not quite sure either upgrade is necessary on the base model, both will make a marked difference on higher powered S and Turbo trims.
To really push the sports car envelope with the 2019 Porsche Cayenne, add the Sport Chrono Package ($1,130) with Sport+ mode and launch control. Additionally, the rear axle steering and the improved turn-in capability makes you forget you’re driving a family hauler.
How did the interior and exterior design change on the 2019 Porsche Cayenne?
The exterior changes are subtle but definitely borrow from the 911’s athletic looks. The Cayenne is longer by 2.5 inches while the wheelbase stays the same. Its shoulders are broader and the same rear horizontal tail lights seen on the fifth-generation 911 show up here as well.
For the first time on the Cayenne, Porsche has staggered the wheels, meaning the tires on the back are wider than the front. That configuration means more grip from those rear tires on the road, and you really do feel the difference when it comes to driver confidence. Standard equipment for the 2019 Cayenne includes 19-inch wheels instead of 18s, but drivers can opt for up to 22-inch wheels and rubber.
Inside, the Cayenne has had a major redesign. The digital dual seven-inch screen gauge cluster reads easily and is highly configurable. But the 12.3-inch touchscreen headlines the show. A lot of the previous Cayenne's physical buttons are gone, replaced by haptic feedback buttons on the center console, surrounding the transmission shifter. Haptic feedback buttons are the closest you can get to a physical button, and they eliminate wading through a touchscreen interface to control features you'll use constantly, such as the climate control, seat heaters, and drive mode selection settings.
Available seating options include gorgeous premium leather, additional power adjustment for the driver and front passenger, and seat heating and ventilation front and rear. Massaging front seats are also available, and with the new Cayenne, Porsche also provides a reported 15-percent increase in cargo space.
With a nod to safety, collision warning with brake assist can help drivers avoid other vehicles and objects, including pedestrians and cyclists. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and night vision assist are available as options.
What will a 2019 Porsche Cayenne cost?
If you’re buying a Porsche whose base price starts at $65,700 chances are you’re not all that concerned with gas mileage estimates, but here they are for the base 2019 Cayenne, just in case: 19 mpg city/23 mpg highway. Numbers for the S and Turbo versions weren't available at the time this article was published.
Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo models, which add some creature comforts that are options on the base model, start at $82,900 and $124,600 respectively. By comparison, both standard Cayenne models we tested, which added such features as upgraded brakes, power-adjusted and heated seats, air suspension, and interior comfort features, carried prices in the mid-$80s.
Other sporty SUV options in the luxury space include the Audi Q7 (which shares a platform with the Cayenne), the Range Rover Velar, the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE. Competition is fierce, but luckily for Porsche, customer loyalty is voracious.
Luckily for their fans, Porsche has made some great improvements to an SUV that was already pretty good. With improved dynamics and modern design and tech, the third-generation Cayenne is more than ready to hit the road – and off-road, too.