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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Zero-to-60-mph times range from around 8 seconds flat for the V6 to around 5 seconds flat for the Turbo
Hydraulic actuators that keep PDCC-equipped Cayennes flat through turns also work while driving in a straight line
Wheel control and chassis composure on undulating pavement will blow your mind
Performance is the 2008 Porsche Cayenne's reason for being, since it certainly isn't the most practical, comfortable, or luxurious SUV on the market. In terms of overall performance, the Porsche Cayenne exhibits some marked strengths and few major weaknesses.
The 2008 Porsche Cayenne lineup offers four engines: one V-6 and three V-8s. Edmunds notes that the base Porsche 2008 Cayenne features "a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 290 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque," while "the Cayenne S packs a 4.8-liter V8 with 385 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque," and the Cayenne GTS has the same engine, but it "produces 405 hp." Edmunds also writes that the Porsche Cayenne Turbo "has a twin-turbocharged version of the V8 that makes a mighty 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque." While many reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the engine choices are impressive, Automobile feels that "the engine doesn't outshine the chassis" on the Porsche Cayenne, and they say that after a while "boredom sets in." Other reviewers are more impressed by the engines, and Car and Driver is pleasantly surprised to find that, on the 2008 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, "the 0-to-60-mph run takes 4.8 seconds." Even on the base Cayenne, The Detroit News determines that it "can hit 60 mph in 7.5 seconds starting from a stop," which is impressive for a vehicle that weighs more than 5,000 pounds.
Although many reviewers approve of the engines on the Porsche 2008 Cayenne, the manual transmission is another story. Motor Trend is particularly scathing in their review, writing "the six-speed is notchy and rubbery, with long throws and an indeterminate gate, characteristics far from helpful in ensuring smooth progress." Car and Driver adds "it's a lifeless stick that feels even more out of place because the parking brake isn't on the center console." Fortunately, Edmunds points out that only the base Porsche Cayenne and the 2008 Porsche Cayenne GTS are available with the manual, while the Porsche Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo "have a six-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission," which is optional on the base and GTS. Edmunds adds that the Porsche Cayenne in every trim is "all-wheel drive."
Fuel economy on the 2008 Porsche Cayenne is dismal, as one would expect from a heavy, high-performance SUV. While Cars.com notes "gas mileage is projected to be 8 to 15 percent better than before," the EPA ratings are still quite low. The official EPA estimates for the 2008 Porsche Cayenne are that it will return 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with the base V-6, while the GTS offers 13/18 mpg with the automatic transmission and 11/17 mpg with the manual. The Porsche Cayenne S gets an EPA-estimated 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway, while the Turbo offers 12/19 mpg.
One area where many reviewers praise the Porsche Cayenne is for its overall handling. Reviewers unanimously recommend the "optional active Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control," which Kelley Blue Book says "offers advantages in counteracting body roll." The Detroit News writes that when the PDDC system is on, "the body roll typically found in heavy, tall vehicles is gone." Car and Driver reviewers remark "the adjustable air suspension is very flexible, offering both a terrific, supple, well-controlled ride in the comfort setting and a fair amount of precision in the sport setting." In terms of steering feel, Automobile considers it "light and responsive," and Motor Trend contends that it is "less corrupted than in other all-wheel-drive SUVs." Kelley Blue Book is even impressed by the Porsche Cayenne's off-road capabilities, and they claim that the "Cayenne is a superior off-highway performer, making quick work of imposing grades." Edmunds adds that the "brakes are strong and linear."
The 2008 Porsche Cayenne handles like a dream, but stay away from the manual transmission.