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2013 Porsche Cayenne Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Porsche Cayenne was new.


Performance: 8.7

Critics call the 2013 Porsche Cayenne one of the best-performing SUVs on the market. They say it offers excellent handling and powerful engine options that make the Cayenne fun to drive. One test driver says that while the diesel isn’t as exciting to drive, it holds its own and offers excellent fuel economy.

  • "The Cayenne has been such a success because it retains the automaker's basic DNA; all of its countless variants have been inherently enjoyable to drive." -- Autoblog
  • "And despite the lamentations of dedicated automotive purists, the Cayenne earns its Porsche crest by being one of the most rewarding and involving SUVs to drive on the highway." -- Edmunds
  • "Even on this too-small, too-wet track, the GTS managed to vastly outperform the low expectations one has of any SUV of this size and weight, provoking the giddy laughter in the driver." -- Motor Trend
  • "That said, if you plan to use your new Porsche SUV not as a stoplight bazooka but for, you know, actual SUV things, the oil-burner is about perfect." -- Motor Trend (Diesel)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Porsche Cayenne has several powertrain options. The base Cayenne comes with a 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 paired with a six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic transmission is available on the base trim and comes standard on all other models. Porsche offers a range of more powerful engine options, including a 4.8-liter V8 engine that makes 400 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque (S model) and a turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 that generates 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque (Turbo model). There is also a Cayenne S Hybrid, which is reviewed separately. The base V6 gets up to 17/23 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission, which isn’t much better than higher trims equipped with V8s.

For the 2013 model year, Porsche adds two models to the Cayenne lineup: the Cayenne Diesel and Cayenne GTS. The new diesel model has a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine that produces 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The new GTS trim uses a modified version of the S’ V8 engine and adds 20 more horsepower and 11 more pound-feet of torque. The diesel model gets the best fuel economy out of the lineup, with an EPA-estimated 19/29 mpg city/highway.

Reviewers say acceleration ranges from adequate with the base V6 to lightning-quick with the optional V8s. Test drivers also like the diesel’s acceleration from a stop, which is thanks to its high torque output. One critic praises the eight-speed automatic gearbox for its prompt and smooth shifts.

  • "The base V6 delivers merely average acceleration, but it's not what anyone would describe as pokey." -- Edmunds
  • "Long story short: As much as we love the insane level of launch offered in the upper-end Cayenne Turbo, and even the hybrid model, the V6 turbodiesel may be the perfect engine for the Cayenne. It offers great pull off the line, feeling almost turbine-like in delivery. ..." -- AutoWeek (Diesel)
  • "The 8-speed automatic transmission is both quick-witted and smooth, with precision-tuned software that seamlessly selects the appropriate gear for the current driving condition." -- Kelley Blue Book (Diesel)
  • "Thanks in part to the shorter gear ratio, the GTS explodes away from each turn with more verve than its 420-hp rating might suggest." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

Regardless of the model, reviewers say the Cayenne handles extremely well. Given how much the Cayenne weighs, test drivers are surprised at how well-controlled body lean is, saying that it stays flat in corners. In addition, critics note that it has nicely-weighted, responsive steering. One critic goes as far as to say it’s the best-handling SUV on the market.

  • "Handling is exceptional, and it only gets better as you select certain high-tech chassis-enhancing options or go whole-hog with the new sport-tuned 2013 Cayenne GTS." -- Edmunds
  • "The Cayenne Diesel's hydraulic-boosted variable-rate steering is wonderfully communicative with just the right effort and precision for good lane control." -- Automobile Magazine (Diesel)
  • "Show me another SUV than can handle like a Cayenne. You won't." -- Jalopnik
  • "In a vehicle estimated to weigh 5000 pounds, it's strange not to get any sensation of body roll in something this tall." -- Car and Driver (GTS)

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