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Though it's been in Porsche's range for nearly a decade, the Cayenne remains a controversial subject for brand loyalists who see the sports car as the true heart of the marque. Nevertheless, the Cayenne's success for Porsche can't be denied, and with the addition of a new diesel model for the 2013 model year, it looks as though its position will be further solidified.
That's a very good thing for SUV lovers, however, as the Cayenne is one of the best in the business. It has a unique look--one that not everyone will love. Wrapping a rough approximation of the 911's curves around the large SUV results in a smooth, curvaceous, swooping form that sits at odds with most of the rest of the large SUV segment, which is largely composed of squared edges and bluff faces. Inside, the Cayenne is even less typical, with a coupe-like cockpit up front, with curved surfaces and upscale materials. All models now come with an analog clock for 2013.
The five different variants in the Cayenne range include the base model, powered by a 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine; the Cayenne Diesel, all-new for 2013, with a 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel engine; the Cayenne S, rated at 400 horsepower from a 4.8-liter V-8; the Cayenne S Hybrid, good for 380 horsepower from its combination of electric motor and a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6; and the Cayenne Turbo, the speed demon of the group, rated at 500 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V-8.
Even base Cayennes are relatively quick, getting to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds with the Tiptronic S automatic transmission, or 7.1 seconds with the six-speed manual. The more potent models are even quicker. The Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic is the only transmission offered on non-base model Cayennes.
Each of the five flavors also offers its own set of design and features as part of the package, wrapping its five-passenger interior in slightly different trims, though each offers an almost impossibly multi-faceted list of upgrades and customizations. Seating is comfortable and supportive, and the materials and fit and finish are all top-notch. Ride quality can be a bit stiff, however, particularly in the sportier models. Our editors strongly recommend the Porsche Adaptive Suspension Mangement (PASM) air-suspension system, which improves the ride signficantly while also improving handling.
Priced from just below $50,000 to nearly $150,000 (or more with enough options), the Cayenne offers a respectable base set of features--nearly complete, in fact, with all of the luxury, connectivity, technology, and comfort features you'd expect. Bluetooth, iPod/USB, and more are all standard. Optional upgrades include navigation, a panoramic sunroof, a heated windshield, and Bose or audiophile-grade Burmester sound systems, plus a wide variety of wheel, trim, paint, and upholstery options.
- Brisk acceleration
- Comfortable, sporty cabin
- Deft handling for its size
- A potent, capable Hybrid
- Ample individualization options
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- Less-than-efficient use of space
- A small second row and no available third row
- Base V-6 model underwhelms