By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.0
As the "Porsche" badge would require, the 2014 Cayenne is arguably the sportiest SUV on the market, striking a truly unique compromise between performance and utility. Quick acceleration, lively handling and lots of pure driving pleasure characterize this family hauler. Unlike many performance-oriented luxury SUVs, the Porsche Cayenne is also a highly proficient off-roader, and it can tow as much as 7,716 pounds. Meanwhile, it comfortably accommodates up to five passengers and lots of gear. The 2014 lineup is comprised of seven unique trims, each with its own engine, including the fuel-efficient Cayenne Diesel and the ferocious 550-horsepower Turbo S. The BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class provide competition, but don't match the wide-ranging talents of the Porsche Cayenne.
Despite a conservative shape, the 2014 Cayenne is all Porsche. It might be the ideal choice for any sports car enthusiast who needs the additional versatility and cargo space of an SUV.
Though the Cayenne's starting price is competitively low (under $50,000), adding even some basic equipment gets expensive quickly. If you need to carry more than five passengers, look at the 3-row Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Audi Q7 or Infiniti JX (renamed the QX60 for 2014).
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Since the high-efficiency diesel variant joined the Cayenne family last year, and the top-of-the-line, 550-horsepower Turbo S went on sale recently, there are no substantive changes for 2014. The Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus becomes an option across the line.
Driving Impressions Compared to its predecessor, and to most any other performance-oriented SUV on the market, the current, 2nd-generation Cayenne is remarkably Porsche-like in the way it translates driver input into action....... Its ability to leap from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 175 mph puts the Cayenne Turbo S at the top of the performance-SUV heap. But even in base form, the Cayenne outfitted with a manual transmission is hardly a performance slouch. The Cayenne S Hybrid also delivers impressive performance, though in normal traffic conditions, it can suffer some of the brake and throttle quirks typical of many hybrid vehicles. Our favorite member of the group may be the Cayenne Diesel, which offers much of the same stirring performance of its gasoline-burning siblings while also delivering well over 30 mpg on the highway, according to our road test data.
PORSCHE TORQUE VECTORING PLUS
Porsche's available PTV Plus torque-vectoring system sends a little extra thrust to the appropriate outside rear wheel when cornering, helping the Cayenne track truer to steering input. Combined with active suspension management and dynamic chassis control, PTV Plus helps the Cayenne respond like a lightweight sports car instead of an SUV.
CERAMIC COMPOSITE BRAKES
At nearly $9,000, the optional ceramic-composite brakes are brutally expensive. But shorter braking distances, better fade resistance, longer rotor life and boundless sex appeal are real benefits.
Inside the 2014 Porsche Cayenne are sumptuous, finely stitched leather and overlays of wood and metal. The look strongly recalls the up-market Porsche Panamera sedan. Rear-seat passengers enjoy a sliding and reclining seat and a pair of LCD screens in the front headrests. Like all of Porsche's current offerings, the Cayenne's cockpit is filled with buttons, knobs and switches, and while that might sound complex, most of us still find operating conventional controls far less distracting than sifting through multiple on-screen menus.Exterior
An abundance of muscular curves and a forward-leaning rear window convey the Cayenne's purpose of speed. Big brake calipers peeking through the wheel spokes also relay this Porsche's sporting ambitions. Black calipers denote the base V6 and Diesel models, silver the Cayenne S and Cayenne S Hybrid, and red the high-performance GTS and Turbo models. The high-end ceramic brake option sports a yellow-painted setup. Up front, we like the larger trapezoidal grille of the Turbo models and the four exhaust outlets at the rear.
The 2014 Porsche Cayenne comes in seven trim levels: Base, Diesel, S, S Hybrid, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S. Base models include all-wheel drive, water-repellent front side windows, a height-adjustable power liftgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a 10-speaker audio system with a 7-inch touch screen. For improved fuel economy, especially in the city, all Cayennes with the automatic transmission include a start/stop function that automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, then restarts it when the brake pedal is released. Safety comes in the form of six airbags, a full suite of electronic stability aids, and complimentary roadside assistance through the duration of the warranty.
Anyone who wishes to take the Cayenne's already impressive handling capability to another level should opt for Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control. This real-time roll-control system adjusts sway bar loading in response to conditions and selected drive mode. If your tastes run to exceptional sound quality, you can choose the 1,000-watt, 16-speaker Burmester audio system option. In-vehicle connectivity, formerly a Porsche weakness, is well covered in the 2014 Cayenne via the Aha Radio smartphone application, which offers a variety of customizable news, music and social networking services.
Seven engine choices are available in the 2014 Porsche Cayenne, each representing a distinct trim. The base Cayenne uses a 300-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 linked to a 6-speed manual transmission or, as with every other model in the lineup, an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic. The Cayenne Diesel has a highly efficient, torque-rich turbocharged V6. Moving up to the Cayenne S brings a 400-horsepower naturally aspirated V8, while GTS models use a version tuned for 420 horsepower. The Cayenne S Hybrid employs a 333-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V6 along with a pair of electric motors that add 47 horsepower to the total. At the top of the line are the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Turbo S – they deliver a whopping 500 and 550 horsepower, respectively.
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)
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6
240 horsepower @ 3,500-4,000 rpm
406 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/29 mpg
400 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 mpg
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
420 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
380 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg
4.8-liter twin turbocharged V8
500 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg
4.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8
550 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
553 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-4.500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a base 2014 Porsche Cayenne with a manual transmission starts just under $50,000. Opting for the excellent 8-speed automatic transmission adds $3,000. The Cayenne Diesel begins about $58,000, while the range-topping Porsche Turbo S comes in at around $147,000. The 2014 Cayenne shares a similar starting price with its BMW and Mercedes-Benz rivals. Be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price below to see what others in your area are currently paying for the Porsche Cayenne. At resale time, the 2014 Cayenne is expected to retain a good percentage of its original value after five years of ownership, though likely won't quite match the strong values of the BMW X5 and the 7-Passenger Audi Q7.