The redesigned-for-2019 Cayenne lives up to its Porsche pedigree with sharp handling, quick acceleration, and a beautifully finished interior. But this SUV’s demeanor may be too intense for drivers who care most about comfort.
The luxury midsized Cayenne is slightly larger than the outgoing version, yet it weighs less, is quicker, and it’s also more fuel efficient. The infotainment system is chock full of up-to-date technology.
Most Cayennes are powered by the base, 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine that produces 335 horsepower. This engine catapults the Cayenne from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which is on the quick side for the class. That number doesn’t tell the whole story, though. In lower-speed, more congested driving conditions, the Cayenne’s drivetrain is often caught off guard and can be annoyingly hesitant at crucial moments—such as pulling into traffic, or when getting back on the gas pedal after a rolling stop. The rough engine stop/start feature doesn’t help matters.
When driven with gusto out on the open road, though, the turbo engine always has plenty of power and the eight-speed automatic transmission keeps the engine at an optimal rev range. We measured 21 mpg on premium fuel, a two-mpg improvement over the last Cayenne we tested with a non-turbo, 3.6-liter V6.
There’s no question the Porsche will put big grins on the faces of people who appreciate fine handling. It can be hustled confidently along a winding road, belying its size and weight thanks to its precise steering, taut suspension, and reassuring brakes. Even when driven hard around our track, the Cayenne was an enthusiastic dance partner, coming alive with balance and poise, all amplified by its communicative steering.
The Cayenne’s suspension absorbs most bumps fairly well, but there is an underlying firmness that might come across as too rough for buyers seeking a plush ride; the occasional rut or manhole can punch through into the cabin. The cabin is serenely quiet, though, giving occupants a feeling of vault-like isolation from the outside world.
Interior fit and finish is first-rate. The cabin is adorned with buttery leather, wood, brushed aluminum, and piano black trim, all contributing to a high-quality feel. The driver has plenty of room and a good view out over the hood. The front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive. The contoured rear seats are almost as comfy, and there’s plenty of space for adults.
Porsche’s latest infotainment system combines and easy-to-reach touch screen with a dizzying array of black-on-black buttons on the center console. This complicated layout makes simple tasks a distracting experience, and it doesn’t help that not all of the steering wheel shortcuts are clearly labeled. Even the unintuitive gear selector is a nuisance during parking maneuvers. Taken together, the Cayenne’s controls have a steep learning curve.
All Cayennes come standard with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, but blind spot warning and lane keeping assist cost extra. Adaptive cruise control, night-vision assist, and a surround-view camera system are also available.
Even a base-model Cayenne is an expensive proposition, and buyers will be hard-pressed to find one on dealer lots for much less than $80,000.