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TheCarConnection.com’s expert reviewers have compiled their own driving impressions together with a thorough search of the web’s road tests and reviews to compile a comprehensive review to help you make the best buying decision possible.
The Cayenne is Porsche’s only SUV, and it’s the brand’s best-selling vehicle in North America. Such a successful recipe is worth sticking with, and accordingly Porsche has announced no updates for the 2010 model year, though two special-edition models are available: The Transsyberia S and the GTS PD Edition 3. Those models offers unique equipment and appearance packages on the standard S and GTS layouts, respectively.
The 2010 Porsche Cayenne sees essentially no visual updates inside or out, with the front and rear exterior updates of 2008 and the intake/exhaust updates of 2009 carrying forward to 2010. The contoured taillamps and Turbo-specific LED versions are still characteristic of the vehicle’s styling, and the prominent lower air dam up front balances the dual exhausts out back.
In base V-6 form, the 2010 Porsche Cayenne won’t easily be confused for a fast vehicle of any form. It gets to 60 mph in about 8 seconds, which is downright anemic for a Porsche-branded vehicle. Slow response off the line is to blame for most of the sluggish times, as in-gear passing power is good with both the standard six-speed manual transmission and the more common six-speed Tiptronic automatic.
Two V-8 engines are available for 2010: a 4.8-liter rated at 385 horsepower sits under the hood of the Cayenne S, while the Turbo S gets a twin-turbocharged version of the same engine rated at 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That much power delivers truly Porsche-like acceleration without questions, hitting 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds.
Handling is better than you’d expect for a 5,000-pound-plus SUV, with crisp steering response, though the high level of boost takes away some of the natural feel. Long, sweeping corners are dispatched with ease thanks to a solid, poised chassis. Tight, quick corners can unsettle the vehicle though, in part due to its tremendous weight. Still, equipped with either V-8 engine, there’s no shortage of fun to be had behind the wheel.
Sitting behind the wheel, the visual impression is a lot like Porsche’s sports cars, with a simple instrument panel surrounded by dark, drab plastics. Despite the less-than-luxurious appearance, it’s clear and easy to read, obviating the complexity and confusion that sometimes befalls more ornate setups. Backseat passengers will find room adequate, but not excellent, and without a third-row seat, the lack of rear cargo space is all the more disappointing at 62.5 cubic feet with the seats down and 19 cubic feet with the seats up. Comfort is high thanks to a suspension that manages to balance its superb handling ability with compliance. Up front, the seats are spacious and supportive, with the driver’s seat positioned just right for spirited driving.
Off-road capability isn’t what the Cayenne is all about, but it still offers enough to satisfy all but the most hard-core. Able to ford up to 19 inches of water and clear most mild-to-moderate trail obstacles, the Cayenne also employs full-time all-wheel-drive to make the most of its traction. Up to 62% of the Cayenne’s power can be sent to the rear wheels during normal conditions, but a full 100% can be sent either frontward or rearward should the need arise. The optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system maximizes the Cayenne’s off-road capabilities by employing hyrdaulically adjustable stabilizer bars which can be effectively detached--automatically--for trail duty. Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM) also boosts the Cayenne’s versatility, offering on-the-fly adjustments to suspension firmness with settings ranging from Comfort to Sport.
There’s no shortage of features and options available on the 2010 Cayenne, but be careful: their cost adds up quickly. The interior can be upgraded with many types of leather seats, ranging in cost from $1,290 to $6,110. The power moonroof runs $1,190, while a Panoramic Roof System will cost $3,900. Wood trim packages can cost as much as $3,195, and the navigation will set you back $3,300. A 410-watt, 5.1-channel 14-speaker Bose Surround Sound audio system costs $1,690. Dynamic Curve Lights, which help illuminate into corners, are standard on the Turbo and optional on lower models.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA have crash-tested the 2010 Porsche Cayenne, but Porsche engineering and a wide selection of standard safety equipment, including front-seat side airbags, rear seat thorax side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags, plus a bumper system with high-strength cross-members and two crush elements.