$50,552 - $132,617

2018 Porsche Cayenne Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Porsche Cayenne was new.


Performance: 9.7

Among luxury midsize SUVs, the 2018 Porsche Cayenne is one of the top performers. It owes its high score to its authoritative engine options, but its handling also deserves special recognition. From behind the wheel, it feels more like a sports car than an SUV, and it also has a comfortable, easy-to-drive demeanor that's essential for a daily driver.

  • "Motivating more than two-and-a-half tons of vehicle to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds is a tall order, but the Cayenne S does so without breaking a sweat. At full throttle, the all-wheel-drive Cayenne launches from a standstill without drama." -- Edmunds
  • "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. … 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 (2017)
  • "Performance varies dramatically from model to model, but the entire 2017 Porsche Cayenne lineup boasts genre-defying performance capabilities." -- Autotrader (2017)

Acceleration and Power

There are five different power plant options for the 2018 Cayenne. Each is attached to a distinctive horsepower rating and price tag, and all come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and an auto stop-start system.  

The base engine is a 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. Its fuel economy rating of 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway is average for a luxury midsize SUV. When it comes running around town or merging on the highway, you won't have any problems. That said, most test drivers prefer the extra power you get with the twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine, which comes in the 420-horsepower Cayenne S and the 440-horsepower Cayenne GTS. Gas mileage drops only slightly, despite the increase in horsepower. The Cayenne S gets 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, and the Cayenne GTS is rated at 16 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway. 

The most powerful trim levels are the 520-horsepower Cayenne Turbo and the 570-horsepower Cayenne Turbo S, both of which employ a turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 engine. The top-line Turbo S has a top track speed of 176 mph and can sprint to 60 mph in as little as 3.8 seconds.

  • "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. … And lastly, for those that want to play in sports car territory with their Cayenne, the turbocharged V8s offer varying levels of thrust, that will leave an impression wherever you go, including the fuel pump." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The GTS version ups the ante, but for truly awe-inspiring performance, the Turbo and Turbo S are the models of choice. Start/stop technology makes for serene red-light experiences, but Sport mode in this SUV transforms it into an aggressive, lurching beast." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "The 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission fires off shifts in milliseconds, obviating the need for any manual option." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

Handling and Braking

Porsche's engineering tricks make the Cayenne a blast to drive. Its steering is responsive, and the SUV is easy to maneuver in parking lots and tight quarters. The standard driving modes effectively alter the setup, depending on whether you want a sportier feel or a more comfortable ride quality.

All-wheel drive is standard in every Cayenne. To increase performance, Porsche offers a number of upgrades, including Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (an active anti-roll system), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (for improved stability when cornering), and an adjustable air suspension system.

  • "The steering response and feel are about as good as it gets in a SUV. The reduced assist (heavier steering feel) in Sport and Sport Plus modes is suitable for enthusiastic driving, while Comfort mode provides effortless parking-lot and around-town maneuvering." -- Edmunds
  • "Similarly, the suspension can transform from floaty to stiff with the touch of a button, and its most aggressive handling modes make it so quick to turn that it becomes easy to forget you're in a hulking animal of an SUV." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "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 (2017)

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