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.
Three V-8 engines are available for 2010: a 4.8-liter rated at 385 horsepower sits under the hood of the Cayenne S, the GTS gets a 405-horsepower variant of the same engine, and the Turbo S gets a twin-turbocharged version rated at 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. All Cayennes are all-wheel-drive.
Car and Driver is pleasantly surprised to find that, on the 2010 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, "the 0-to-60-mph run takes 4.8 seconds." Even on the base Cayenne, The Detroit News reports it’s capable of that getting to “60 mph in 7.5 seconds starting from a stop,”--not shabby, but not inspiring, either. In all but the V-6 trim, the Cayenne is “fast as stink,” according to Automobile.
Despite Porsche’s success with its sports car transmissions, the manual gearbox on the Cayenne frequently takes a lashing. Car and Driver calls it that "a lifeless stick that feels even more out of place because the parking brake isn't on the center console." Motor Trend writingpulls no punches, saying "the six-speed is notchy and rubbery, with long throws and an indeterminate gate, characteristics far from helpful in ensuring smooth progress." Edmunds provides a balancing viewpoint, noting that only the base Porsche Cayenne and the 2010 Porsche Cayenne GTS are even available with the manual, while the Porsche Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo come standard with the six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, which is an optional upgrade on both the base and GTS. Choosing the automatic over the manual on the GTS does cost you 0.4 seconds on the 0-60 mph dash, however.
The 2010 Porsche Cayenne gets predictably poor fuel economy. Official EPA estimates for the 2010 Porsche Cayenne are 14/20 mpg city and highway for the base V-6, no matter whether equipped with the manual or automatic transmission. The GTS returns an even less inspiring 13/18 mpg with the automatic transmission and 11/17 mpg with the manual. The Cayenne S rates 13 mpg city and 19 highway, and the Turbo and Turbo S both offer 12/19 mpg.
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.
There is a lot to love from the Cayenne’s suspension. Car and Driver remarks that the Cayenne’s adjustable air suspension offers “a terrific, supple, well-controlled ride in the comfort setting and a fair amount of precision in the sport setting." Almost all reviewers suggest buyers opt for the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control system, which Kelley Blue Book says "offers advantages in counteracting body roll." The Detroit News writesfinds that when the PDDC system is on, "the body roll typically found in heavy, tall vehicles is gone." Motor Trend doesn’t precisely praise the Cayenne’s steering feel, but says that it is "less corrupted than in other all-wheel-drive SUVs." Edmunds adds that the "brakes are strong and linear."
Kelley Blue Book may be stretching it a bit when they say that the "Cayenne is a superior off-highway performer, making quick work of imposing grades," as Car and Driver sums up the 2010 Cayenne’s off-road capability thus: “It's not a Rubicon runner but, then again, it's not meant to be.”