$44,091 - $94,333

2016 Porsche Cayenne Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Porsche Cayenne was new.


Performance: 9.4

The 2016 Cayenne impresses test drivers with its incredible acceleration, slick-shifting automatic transmission and sports car-like handling. Though some are disappointed by the base engine not living up to expectations, they report the optional engines are all exceptionally potent, especially in the Turbo and Diesel models. The base Cayenne earns average fuel economy ratings for a luxury midsize SUV, however the Cayenne Diesel uses more fuel than its diesel-powered competitors. Reviewers say the Cayenne corners with ease and its ride is comfortable.

  • "The 2016 Porsche Cayenne leaves no doubt that anything wearing a Porsche badge lives up to the brand's dominating performance capabilities." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Regardless of engine choice, the unflappable handling and sublime steering make the Cayenne an excellent sport SUV." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2015 Porsche Cayenne lives up to its performance heritage and sets the standard by which all other luxury performance SUVs are judged." -- Autotrader (2015)
  • "We'd never deign to suggest the Cayenne as an alternative to a 911, but of all the SUVs claiming to have sports-car traits, of the few that come anywhere close to delivering, this is the one." -- Road and Track (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2016 Porsche Cayenne comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The Cayenne S and Cayenne GTS have twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engines generating 420 and 440 horsepower and 406 and 443 pound-feet of torque, respectively. The Cayenne Diesel has a 3.0-liter diesel V6 engine that delivers 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The base Cayenne earns an EPA-estimated 19/24 mpg city/highway, which is average for the class, while the Cayenne Diesel earns an EPA-estimated 20/29 mpg city/highway, which is slightly lower than the fuel economy of other diesel-powered luxury midsize SUVs, but still good for the class overall.

A twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 engine powers the Cayenne Turbo, and it makes 520 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. A 570-horsepower version of the same engine making 590 pound-feet of torque comes in the Cayenne Turbo S. According to Porsche, the Cayenne Turbo S has a top speed of 176 mph and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard in all models.

Some test drivers say the base Cayenne's V6 delivers less power than expected and they suggest opting for one of the more-powerful engines, such as the twin-turbocharged V6 in the Cayenne S, which they report provides strong acceleration, decent fuel economy and impressive torque. Auto journalists write the Cayenne Turbo has ferocious acceleration and add the Cayenne Diesel's V6 offers a pleasing combination of fuel efficiency and muscle. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly enough that reviewers say even drivers who like to throw their own shifts likely won't miss having a manual transmission.

  • "… the base engine offers neither the performance promised by the badge nor the fuel economy of the diesel motor. The S is the real jumping-off point here, with much better acceleration and just a slight hit to EPA estimates." -- Edmunds
  • "The 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission fires off shifts in milliseconds, obviating the need for any manual option. Then there's the Cayenne Diesel, with its copious torque and near 30 mpg on the highway, making it the most livable of the Cayenne family." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "A highway stint in the Turbo delivered wickedly quick acceleration, aided by its power boost to 520 horsepower, while an off-road jaunt in the surprisingly capable Diesel offered stunning proof that these seriously rugged sport utes are wasted on city-slicker sports-car types." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • "The Cayenne Turbo is heroically, stupidly, unbelievably fast. Unnecessarily fast? Just as when we drove a Porsche Panamera Turbo, we can't help but think the twin-turbo V-8 engine is overkill outside the autobahn network. The standard Cayenne S has so much low-end torque that it feels just as quick as the Turbo in real-world driving, and we'd be happier with the V-6's lower price and fuel consumption, too." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)

Handling and Braking

All-wheel drive is standard and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), which keeps the 2016 Cayenne level around corners, is optional, as is an adjustable air suspension that lets drivers select from three driving modes. Test drivers agree the Cayenne has better handling than most SUVs on the market thanks to its precise steering and ability to take corners without leaning. With the adjustable air suspension in Sport Plus mode, some report the Cayenne almost feels as composed as a sports car. They add the ride is firm, but not uncomfortably so, and the optional air suspension makes even city driving pleasant. 

  • "Cornering precision is beyond what you should rightfully expect from any SUV." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The PDCC system has the Cayenne cornering flat through the twisty bits, making it a must-have for buyers looking to maximize their fun quotient. During more relaxed driving, the Cayenne's firm ride is noticeable, but we don't consider it overly harsh or uncomfortable." -- Edmunds
  • "We lock the suspension in Sport Plus to set the air springs and active antiroll bars as firm as possible, and the setting keeps this big SUV level as a sports car no matter how hard we brake for and whip around the switchbacks that lead between tiny Spanish villages." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)
  • "Due to an adjustable suspension the Cayenne can be comfortable around town, but then be stiffened to tackle corners with aplomb." -- Autoweek (2014)

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