2014 Porsche Cayenne Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 13, 2014

Yes, Porsche does make a family car, and this is it; the 2014 Cayenne runs the gamut from sporty errand mule to track-worthy sports SUV, with some interesting green options in between.

The 2014 Porsche Cayenne is no longer an outlier in the Porsche lineup of sports and sporty cars and, increasingly, crossover utility vehicles. With the compact Macan crossover joining it in showrooms, the Cayenne actually provides a large portion of the profits that permit Porsche to persist in designing and selling some of the best-performing and handling sports cars in the world. Lots of Cayennes sold subsidizes excellent sports cars, not that they're not pricey themselves.

While a handful of aging Porsche purists may still begrudge the Cayenne, most will concede that as the brand's top-seller, it has become the benefactor of  the lineup—freeing up the budget for a generation of new Boxster and 911 models. It's been hugely successful, too: It's a highly practical family vehicle that also provides much of the personality of lower, leaner two-seat Porsches. The Cayenne line has expanded correspondingly: Last year produced a Cayenne Diesel (the brand's first-ever in the U.S.) and 2014 adds a Cayenne Turbo S, with 50 horsepower more than the mere Cayenne Turbo.

There are now a seemingly dizzying seven different variants in the Cayenne range, including the base model, powered by a 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine; the Cayenne Diesel, all-new for 2013, with a 245-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. New for 2014 is the 550-hp Turbo S. 

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In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)

For the new Turbo S, the key numbers are 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 176 mph; but 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. Base models remain the only ones offered with a six-speed manual gearbox; otherwise you're leaving the shifting to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic (with manual control, of course).

Wrap a rather sleek, modern utility-vehicle silhouette in with the rough approximation of the 911's curves, and you get the Cayenne—which is at odds with the more traditional SUV. There's very little rugged about this design—even though it's deft off-pavement. Inside, the Cayenne is even less typical, with a coupe-like cockpit up front, with curved surfaces, upscale materials, and even an analog clock.

Across the lineup, 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. The Porsche Adaptive Suspension Mangement (PASM) air-suspension system is a recommended option, as it improves handling while also dialing in better ride quality most of the time.

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.

The 2014 Cayenne starts at around $50,000, but Turbo models can easily top $150k with options, and the top Turbo S starts at $146,975. Go with the base model, and there's really no sacrifice in features versus a BMW or Mercedes-Benz product in the same price range. Bluetooth, iPod/USB, and more are all standard. Navigation, a panoramic sunroof, and a heated windshield are among many, many options. Sound systems include Bose or audiophile-grade Burmester sound systems, and your budget is really the limit on a wide range of upholstery, trim, paint, and wheel upgrades.

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2014 Porsche Cayenne

Styling

The 2014 Cayenne is unmistakably a Porsche on the outside and a luxury vehicle on the inside—although not everyone will warm up to the SUV shape.

If you blend a rather sleek, modern utility-vehicle silhouette in with the rough approximation of the 911's curves, you'll get the Cayenne—which is at odds with the more traditional SUV, but ever closer to the crossover styling norm with each new model year, it seems.

There's very little rugged about this design—even though it's deft off-pavement. It's also a far cry from the design of Porsche's legendary sports cars, like the legendary 911 and now-iconic Boxster, but it does have just enough of those models' style and panache. You'll notice that the hood is a bit longer than in some other crossover models; there's also in recent years been more of a styling synergy between Porsche's SUVs and sports cars, if only in the grille and front fascia. In back, there's only a gentle hat-tip to Porsche's sports cars, with gentle roof spoilers and an upright-yet-aerodynamic look that flows all the way to the back. 

Visually setting apart the range-topping Cayenne Turbo S from lesser models is a high-gloss black finish on the air intakes, headlight surrounds and lower part of the side mirror housing, unique 21-inch alloy wheels, Cayenne Turbo S badging, and quad-exhaust tips finished in polished aluminum.

Inside, the Cayenne is even less typical, with a coupe-like cockpit up front, with curved surfaces, upscale materials, and even an analog clock. The cabin is characterized by a sweeping yet cockpit-like instrument-panel arrangement, with plenty of curved surfaces, sculpted vertical vents, a sloped center console, and upscale materials—borrowing here and there from the stunning Panamera four-door's interior. Matte-metallic brightwork cheers it up from the drab appointments of Cayenne models past, while there's generally a coupe-like feel from the driver's seat.

In the Turbo S cabin, there's unique two-tone leather trim, special carbon fiber inserts, Alcantara headliner, and the aforementioned Sport Chrono package.

Otherwise, visual variation between models in the lineup—including the Cayenne Hybrid—is quite subtle, with wheels and badging being the main differences.

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2014 Porsche Cayenne

Performance

Even in Hybrid or Diesel guise, the 2014 Porsche Cayenne is one of the most fun-to-drive SUVs on the market—while the new Turbo S pushes the performance to new heights.

The array of 2014 Porsche Cayenne models—each offering a somewhat different level of performance—can be positively bewildering. But keep in mind that all of them—even the base model and the Diesel—are strong and satisfying. Although it's worth running through all the levels before deciding which one is the best fit. 

The base Cayenne V-6 has more power and less weight compared to the last-generation Cayenne, and its 300-horsepower 3.6-liter (VR6) V-6 engine is sharp enough to execute quick passes—and relatively fuel-efficient—but do keep in mind that at 7.1 seconds to 60 mph it's not all that much quicker than any number of V-6 crossovers or minivans.

Above the base model is the Cayenne S, which performs considerably better and packs a 400-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 engine. Zero-to-60 mph times are shortened to 5.6 seconds, top speed is 160 mph, and the brawnier powertrain is a more appropriate fit for the look and feel of this performance SUV.

The Cayenne Diesel slots just above the base model. While the diesel is rated at just 245 horsepower, from its 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel engine, it's the substantial 406 pound-feet of torque--37 lb-ft more than the Cayenne S and 111 lb-ft more than the base Cayenne--that really matters. The Diesel can get to 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds--faster than the automatic version of the Cayenne V-6, with a top speed of 135 mph. And like the rest of the Cayenne lineup, it carries a 7,716-pound tow rating.

The Cayenne Turbo remains oriented toward those who want the most performance, and performance that's more on par with Porsche's sports cars; it gets a 4.4-second 0-60 time from a 500-horsepower turbocharged 4.8-liter engine and a top speed of 172 mph.

Yet another model new for this year is the Turbo S. It gains 50 horsepower over the Turbo's 500 hp, plus an extra 37 pound-feet of torque (554 pound-feet in all)--plus a Dynamic Chassis Control system and Torque Vectoring Plus, to help get all that power to the pavement.

Additionally, Turbo S gets the regular Cayenne Turbo’s impressive Porsche Active Suspension Management dampening control and air suspension, but it adds Dynamic Chassis Control which further helps to reduce roll while cornering via hydraulically-operated roll bars. There’s also Porsche’s Torque Vectoring Plus system, which can vary torque between the rear wheels. This works in conjunction with an electronically controlled differential lock offered with the Porsche’s Sport Chrono package, which comes standard on the latest addition to the automaker's lineup.

Meanwhile, a new Cayenne GTS model slots in between the Cayenne S and the Turbo; it gets 20 horsepower more than the Cayenne S, as well as a lowered (20 mm) suspension, lower final-drive ratio, and other appearance upgrades. Performance for the GTS slots in between, as you might guess, at 5.4 seconds and 162 mph.

Rounding out the lineup, and appealing to those who want to be a little greener but not give up the engaging driving experience, is the Cayenne S Hybrid. With its hybrid system, combining an electric motor system and a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine, it makes 380 horsepower, with a top speed of 150 mph.

Compared to virtually any other tall utility, handling is exemplary. Plus, you get excellent steering feel (relative to other SUVs), surprisingly little body roll, and immense cornering traction--especially from the huge wheels and tires that you get in the Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo versions.

You might also be wondering about off-road ability, which remains the cornerstone of utility vehicles. The 2014 Cayenne hasn't completely abandoned it, but there's no dual-range transfer case. Making up for that is an electronic Porsche Traction Management system, which offers three modes for loose sand/snow, wet surfaces and mud, or rocky terrain. In complex ways, PTM helps you out no matter what the situation, so unless you're looking for serious wheel articulation and bouldering capability, the Cayenne probably has plenty of ruggedness for the need.

A six-speed manual is only offered on the base Cayenne, while Cayenne S, Turbo, and Hybrid models all get the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic. All Cayennes have all-wheel drive, but Hybrid and Diesel models come with a permanent all-wheel drive system while the rest of the model line has an active system that can send more torque to the wheels where it's best put to use.

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2014 Porsche Cayenne

Comfort & Quality

Cargo space is a little compromised, but otherwise the 2014 Porsche Cayenne is comfortable and spacious for passengers.

Porsche can be as much a luxury brand as it is a sports-car brand, and the 2014 Cayenne is one of the models that best showcases the luxury side—all without abandoning the sports-car side, of course.

Supportive, comfortable sport seats are what you'll find in front throughout the entire model range; drivers of all sizes should be able to get well-positioned, with decent visibility and a beltline that isn't too high. Rear passengers are able to slide fore and aft, more than six inches if you're willing to give up some cargo space; and the rear seatback angle adjusts. 

Move up to higher model lines, and you'll also step up to higher-rent materials. In the GTS, for instance, you'll get special eight-way sport seats with Alcantara (suede-like) accents, while Turbo S models get.

If folding down the back seats and hauling larger pieces of cargo are part of your normal routine, you might want to double-check the space available in the Cayenne. The rear seatbacks don't fold completely flat, limiting the usefulness of the space, and actual cubes aside its a notch smaller than you might expect from a vehicle this size. Hybrids tend to give up some cargo space, typically, but that isn't the case here as Porsche has packaged the battery packl down below, where the spare tire would otherwise go.

Throughout the Cayenne's cabin you'll find upholsteries, fit, and finish to be all up to par with what's offered in rival Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, or Lexus, and you'll find top-notch fit and finish. About the only issue some might find is that the Cayenne sacrifices some cargo space in order to prioritize the passenger space.

Ride quality is excellent when you opt for the Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM) air-suspension system and Porsche Dynamic Chassic Control (PDCC). With it the suspension can adapt to driving conditions or driving style, and you can dial in Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes, which affect the suspension and powertrain responses together.

Porsche's button-focused control scheme might seem busy at first, but we wager you'll warm up to it, as it escapes the complexity of screen-based, joystick-controlled systems like BMW's iDrive and Audi's MMI.

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2014 Porsche Cayenne

Safety

You'll find plenty of reassurance from the active and passive features in the 2014 Cayenne—even in the absence of crash-test results.

The Cayenne hasn't been crash-tested by either of the U.S. agencies, due to its relative niche status compared to other crossovers—and its very high price tag. Yet there are plenty of assurances built into this Porsche's feature list.

Standard items include anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, a full complement of airbags; pay a little more and you can get active-safety options like Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Change Assistant, and dynamic lighting.

Out on the trail, hill descent control and speed-set control help keep it safe; and whether on- or off-road, the Cayenne's especially capable handling may also prove a safety asset, helping to avoid obstacles and accidents.

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2014 Porsche Cayenne

Features

At the base level, the 2014 Porsche Cayenne is surprisingly sensible—yet you can easily push the price sky high with higher-performance models, accessories and options.

The 2014 starts at around $50,000, but Turbo models can easily top $150k with options, and the top Turbo S starts at $146,975.

Go with the base model, and there's really no sacrifice in features versus a BMW or Mercedes-Benz product in the same price range. Bluetooth, iPod/USB, and more are all standard.

While the top Turbo S models are arguably worth it from a performance standpoint alone, what you get at the base end of the lineup isn't shabby at all. Base V-6 Cayenne models offer 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.

This Sport Chrono package also adds an analog and digital timer located at the center of the dash, keeping the driver updated with information such as the total driving time, lap distance covered so far and individual lap times. It also shows latitudinal and longitudinal acceleration via the TFT display in the instrument cluster.

Available options, some of which are standard on the top-end Cayenne Turbo, include ParkAssist with rearview camera, an electric slide/tilt moonroof, dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system, and both Bose and Burmester audio systems. The Burmester in particular is an auditory feast.

The optional Adaptive Cruise Control system can maintain following distances at speeds between 20 and 100 mph, and it will prime the braking system when needed and even stop. A quick press of the accelerator will reactivate the system.

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2014 Porsche Cayenne

Fuel Economy

The Cayenne Diesel gets almost 30 mpg on the highway, and most of the Cayenne lineup isn't as irresponsibly thirsty as you might think.

For a rather large, performance-focused SUV, the 2014 Porsche Cayenne isn't as bad as you might expect. In fact, with either the Diesel or Hybrid options, it could be called downright responsible.

Base Cayenne V-6 models with the standard manual transmission rate at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The optional eight-speed automatic improves the score to 16/23 mpg, for a combined rating of 19 mpg.

The Cayenne Diesel factors in at an excellent EPA-rated 19 mpg city, 29 highway Meanwhile, the Cayenne V-6 and S Hybrid (20 mpg city, 24 highway) models are quite impressive considering their stunning, quick acceleration.

With the Cayenne S you get an extra 100 horsepower, yet still rates at 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined. The Turbo's massive 500 horsepower output is only marginally thirstier.

The new 2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S returns the same mileage as the Cayenne Turbo: 15 mpg city, 22 highway.

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September 10, 2015
2014 Porsche Cayenne AWD 4-Door Platinum Edition

excellent car!!!

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Small problems creaking hatch, oil consumption 1L / 10000km, the rest ok
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September 9, 2015
2014 Porsche Cayenne AWD 4-Door Diesel Platinum Edition

First impressions of the Cayenne after eight years driving variuos MB ML models, incl Diesel versions.

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The Porsche is mostly very similar to drive than the ML. There are however several pertinent nuances that distinguishes the two from one another. · The ML has more storage spaces and things like remotes... + More »
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April 19, 2015
For 2014 Porsche Cayenne

Cayenne is a quality SUV, but should come standard with more options for the money and competition.

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I really like my Cayenne but my prior SUV, a GMC Acadia Denali, was much better equipped for about the same price. Yes, this is a well known issue with Porsche, but frustrating never the less. The performance... + More »
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April 16, 2015
For 2014 Porsche Cayenne

Best SUV ever owned.

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Bought the Cayenne after test driving the Mercedes GL550. Liked the 550 but the electronic gear shift concerned me a little. Thought it was too fragile. Decided on the Porsche. later on I met someone with a... + More »
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April 13, 2015
For 2014 Porsche Cayenne

The diesel is great

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The diesel is a great car. Plenty of power and great fuel mileage. All wheel drive is really excellent. I would strongly recommend it. Fit and finish is beautiful.
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