$46,316 - $112,684

2017 Porsche Cayenne Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Porsche Cayenne was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 9.2

Given the Porsche moniker, it should come as no surprise that the 2017 Cayenne is fun to drive. However, the base engine’s performance doesn’t quite meet the standards set by the Porsche brand, according to critics. However, the rest of the lineup provides plenty of power. A few models, like the Turbo and Turbo S, might have too much power for some. The midrange Cayenne S provides the best mileage-power ratio. In the handling department, the Cayenne’s performance sets it apart from other luxury midsize SUVs. Upgrading the suspension takes an already composed Cayenne and enhances it to have almost no body lean, allowing it to tackle twisty roads like a sports car.

Although the Cayenne isn't known for off-roading in the same way the Land Rover Range Rover and Jeep Grand Cherokee are, its all-wheel-drive system can handle light off-roading with ease. Sand and light rockiness are fine, but with a maximum ground clearance of only 8.5 inches, you wouldn't want to take the Cayenne on the Rubicon Trail.

The Cayenne's towing capacity is 7,716 pounds. This number measures up well against many other luxury midsize SUVs and equals that of the Cayenne’s mechanical siblings, the Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg.

  • "However, there's much more to the Cayenne than outright speed. Cornering precision is beyond what you should rightfully expect from any SUV, and the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is tuned to perfection. And it's all delivered with the refinement of a world-class luxury car." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Regardless of engine choice, the Cayenne's competent handling and sublime steering make it a rewarding SUV to drive." -- Edmunds
  • "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

Cayenne shoppers can choose from plenty of engine choices. The standard engine, which comes in the base Cayenne and the Platinum Edition, is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower. S and GTS models use twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engines that make 420 and 440 horsepower, respectively. Likewise, the Turbo and Turbo S trims use two versions of the same engine, a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8. It generates 520 horsepower in the Turbo and a whopping 570 horsepower in the Turbo S. All engines come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The base engine doesn’t live up to the Porsche nameplate, though some critics note the entire Cayenne lineup provides an enjoyable driving experience. S models and above are faster, and choosing them doesn’t mean you have to take a huge hit on fuel economy. Base Cayenne models earn 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Upgrade to the S, and you only lose 1 mpg in the city, with no drop in highway mileage. Both fuel economy estimates are average compared with the rest of the class.

The Turbo and Turbo S models have serious power. According to Porsche, the Turbo S accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, which is only one-tenth of a second behind the Chevrolet Corvette. However, some drivers might find it has too much power and not enough fuel efficiency. The Cayenne S strikes the best balance between power and fuel efficiency.

  • "The word 'slow' has never been used to describe a Porsche Cayenne. Neither have the words 'uncomfortable' or 'imprecise' or 'unrefined.' Cayennes are simply impressive from behind the wheel. Each is a blast to drive. … The 570-horsepower Turbo S hits 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds. That's crazy quick." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • While it reduces the barrier to entry of the 2017 Porsche Cayenne, the base engine offers neither the performance promised by the badge nor much benefit in fuel economy. The S is the real jumping-off point here and the model we'd recommend, with impressive acceleration and just a marginal hit to EPA city fuel economy estimates." -- Edmunds
  • "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

Standard all-wheel drive is common among many luxury midsize SUVs, but the Cayenne’s drivetrain and impressive cornering ability set it apart from the rest. When equipped with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), an active anti-roll system, the Cayenne handles corners with virtually no body lean. This pairs well with the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus). In turns, this system controls the power sent to the rear wheels and applies the brake on one side or the other to improve traction and control. These two systems, when combined, makes the Cayenne drive more like a sports car.

Although ride quality is on the firmer side, the Cayenne soaks up bumps nicely. The adjustable suspension, which comes standard in the Turbo trim, lets you customize the Cayenne’s ride, whether you want a softer ride for cruising or a more responsive tune for spirited driving.

  • "One of the reasons the new all-wheel-drive Porsche Cayenne doesn't handle or feel like a ponderous SUV is the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) system. It sends more power to the outside wheel during cornering, which helps the Cayenne achieve additional traction and higher levels of agility." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Regardless of engine choice, the Cayenne's competent handling and sublime steering make it a rewarding SUV to drive. The PDCC system's active anti-roll bars has it cornering flat through the twisty bits, while PTV helps it carve lines like a much smaller vehicle. These options together are must-haves for buyers looking to maximize their fun quotient. During more relaxed driving, the Cayenne's ride is noticeably firmer, but we wouldn't call it harsh or uncomfortable." -- Edmunds
  • "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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