- Performance, meet SUV
- Sleek interior finally ditches the buttons
- High level of personalization
- Will actually seat five comfortably
- Big SUV with a penchant for fuel
- Might be too stiff for some, even in its softest settings
- Porsche excellence comes with Porsche pricing
features & specs
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne offers hybrid models, but fuel economy isn’t its best look. For that you’ll want to check out the new Taycan electric car.
The Porsche Cayenne ruffled a lot of feathers when it first joined the sports-car maker’s lineup. Now it’s the best-selling Porsche model and takes at least a share of the title of hottest performance SUV. If you’re an automaker trying to make a performance SUV or crossover, the 2020 Porsche Cayenne is your benchmark.
This level of excellence isn’t lost on us. Its ability to channel the most elemental Porsche characteristics into a practical SUV body earns the Cayenne a 7.2 out of 10 on our overall scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
New for last year, the 2020 Porsche Cayenne is joined this year by a Cayenne Coupe. All the excellence that wowed reviewers last year remains, from the attractive, sleek cockpit that has banished nearly all buttons and switches to the familiar shape that tries to fair in some of the 911’s visual cues. With a coupe-like roofline, it looks that much better.
Performance remains stellar. Four powertrains each offer a distinct level of performance. On the low end is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, the high end a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8. In the middle are a plug-in hybrid and a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6. Every engine here will perform sub-six-second 0-60 mph sprints and reach top speeds far beyond what’s permissible on anything but the autobahn.
Yet you don’t need to wring out a Cayenne to triple-digit speeds to be in awe of its performance. Find a twisty road and have at it: this SUV will seem to shrink down and attack corners like a sports car. The chassis grips with tenacity that will shock anyone not familiar with a performance SUV—while it remains composed on both smooth and broken pavement. It feels like a case of stolen identity—who at Porsche is letting the Cayenne masquerade as a 911?
That is the ultimate luxury of this SUV. You get the unflappable might of the iconic German sports car with the leather-and-wood poshness of a luxury SUV. You’ll pay for it, though: from the roughly $65,000 base model, prices stretch up to $200,000 and more.
Still, you’ll be hard-pressed to call it overpriced. The 2020 Porsche Cayenne is an all-rounder like no other. It’s hard to fault this do-anything SUV that can also shame more bona-fide sports cars than we care to admit. When it inevitably becomes the best-selling Porsche of all time, we’ll be OK with it.
2020 Porsche Cayenne
The latest Cayenne successfully pulls off sports-car cues on an SUV body.
Porsche isn’t one for dramatic change, and when the third-generation Cayenne debuted last year it didn’t break any new ground. Yet it did go ahead and ditch its armada of center-console buttons, cleaning up the interior considerably.
These efforts have garnered an 8 out of 10, with one point earned for its classy shape and another two points for the modernized interior. If rated separately, the new Cayenne Coupe may earn a point above that.
You can see the direct lineage to the OG Cayenne from almost 20 years ago, but we don’t consider that a bad thing—like the brand’s 911, they’ve managed to keep the look contemporary without rendering it dated, retro, or anachronistic. It hews to the Porsche look with a front end reminiscent of its sports cars and the Panamera and a rear end whose full-width taillights look pillaged from the latest 911.
Joining the lineup this year is the first Cayenne Coupe. It's still a four-door SUV, but the roofline swoops down far more dramatically than that of the standard model. It's a racier, sportier look that willingly trades off some of the usual SUV practicality for extra style points.
The interior has been thoroughly modernized. A big 12.3-inch touchscreen now dominates the center stack. The infotainment software now harbors many of the controls which in prior generations were actuated by a sea of buttons. The new look is slick and streamlined. Most importantly, it actually works well.
The digital trend continues in the cluster, where dual 7.0-inch screens flank a centrally positioned analog tachometer. We found the setup easy to read and configure. The ignition sits on the left of a decidedly sporty and great-feeling steering wheel. Overall the whole cabin feels luxurious and purposeful, and a definite step forward over the prior generation.
2020 Porsche Cayenne
If you want sports-car performance in a two-ton-plus SUV, the Cayenne won’t disappoint.
Electronics, technology, and plain old mechanical wizardry push the performance envelope of the Cayenne further than ever. What it can accomplish is at odds with our own innate sense of physics.
It’s this harnessing and taming of the impossible that earns the Cayenne an 8 out of 10 for performance. Why not a perfect score? Its ride can be stiff even in its softest setting, and base versions are quick but not Turbo-rockets. The Cayenne Coupe drives identically to the Cayenne, which we appreciate.
Every Cayenne—regardless of roofline—is an admirable performer regardless of which of the three powertrains you opt for. The entry-level unit is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 that makes 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Considering it is tasked with motivating 4,600 pounds of SUV, this engine does an able job—you can expect 0-60 mph times of 5.7 seconds, or 5.6 seconds with the available Sport Chrono package. This is as slow as the Cayenne gets.
Move up to the S model and Porsche rejiggers this V-6 so its running two turbos on 2.9 liters of displacement. The resulting power output jumps up to 434 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Here the 0-60 mph time clocks in at just under five seconds. A top speed of 164 mph is attainable.
Finally, there’s the mack-daddy engine: the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8. This powerplant grunts and roars and bellows. Never mind that at this point a so-equipped Cayenne weighs 5,000 pounds; the 540 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque are enough to hit 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds flat and reach an eventual top speed of 177 mph. These numbers are no joke: A V-8 Cayenne is one of the fastest SUVs extant.
For the mileage-minded, an E-Hybrid option is also available. It can run exclusively on electric power for 14 miles if you’re gentle with your right foot; lay into it and the 455 hp will shrink that range considerably. We found the switch from pure electric to gas-electric operation nearly seamless, and the instant torque can push you back into the seat with ease.
All powertrains mate to an 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. This AWD system has available torque-vectoring that can alter the amount of torque going to each of the rear wheels, which aids in cornering prowess. Because it’s a Porsche, power is always more biased towards the rear. The exact ratio changes based on conditions and the selected drive mode.
If you want to follow a Range Rover into the wilderness, you can, despite the fat summer tires and chic styling suggesting otherwise. The Cayenne will ford nearly 20 inches of water and lumber up a 45-degree incline. There’s also a maximum 9.6 inches of ground clearance when the available air suspension is in its highest setting. Just be careful you don’t dent up the wheels, the smallest of which measure 19 inches in diameter; the largest, 22 inches.
Porsche Cayenne ride and handling
We already mentioned the handling is on the stiff side, and that’s the biggest complaint one can lob at this eager-to-dance SUV. When pushed hard, the Cayenne bristles with excellence as it shuffles down a twisty bit of pavement.
Credit the underpinnings. It gets its chops from a multi-link suspension front and rear, fat tires measuring up to 315 mm in width, and an available air suspension paired with adaptive dampers. Active roll bars and rear-wheel steering are also on the menu; both features seem to downplay the Cayenne’s bulk when its hustled, especially the rear-steer system. And of course there’s the Sport Chrono package, which includes multiple drive modes as well as a launch control—not to mention the cool dash-mounted chronometer.
All the Cayennes that we’ve driven—and we’ve driven every powertrain—have been equipped with a number of those extra goodies, including the torque-vectoring rear end, summer tires, air suspension, and 21-inch wheels. We found that the air suspension enhanced its ability to pick its way over rubbly Greek mountainsides, thanks to its extra 2 inches of clearance over the stock ride height. It also works with traction modes that help the tires grip through gravel, mud, sand or rock.
On paved roads, the Cayenne relaxes, coasting along without indication of the performance it packs underneath. Yet despite the relaxed demeanor the ride and steering are perpetually heavy and stiff and focused—there’s no doubt about the Cayenne’s ancestry. Get the handling-enhancing bits and it becomes even more of a head-tosser, so think twice before ordering up your favorite 911 or 718 features.
2020 Porsche Cayenne
Comfort & Quality
Uncompromised performance meets uncompromised comfort.
This Porsche comes from a royal bloodline: its underpinnings are also found beneath the Bentley Bentagya, Lamborghini Urus, and Audi Q7 and Q8. It’s no surprise, then, that’s cabin comfort and exemplary build quality put it in the same league as those prestige rides. We give it a 9 out of 10 for comfort and utility.
Perhaps most refreshing is its ability to seat five. It’s a feat that seems to be rarer and rarer; that is, putting three people abreast in the back seat. But the Cayenne has a suitable amount of width to do so. The rear seats also recline and adjust fore and aft; the outboard positions can be heated as well.
Its 113.9-inch wheelbase also affords it plenty of leg room, and riders in the back won’t be eating their knees due to the lack of space. Head room is equally abundant. There is no dearth of space in the Cayenne.
Up front, buyers are coddled with standard power-adjustable eight-way leather seats that have just the right amount of bolstering for supportive comfort. If those don’t suffice, there’s power 18-way thrones with both heating and cooling. Massage chairs are also available, as are adaptive sport seats, so you’re covered no matter what seat type you like.
Other luxuries up front include a large center console and a smartphone nook with a wireless signal booster; there’s also available wireless charging, which is new for 2020 and part of the Smartphone Compartment option package. Passengers get three grab handles, which we feel is an appropriate number for this corner-carver.
Some 27.5 cubic feet of cargo space is available behind the rear seats. Fold down the split 40/20/40 second row and that number expands to 60.3 cubic feet.
Despite its name, the new 2020 Cayenne Coupe doesn't sacrifice much in the way of rear seat space. The seat bottoms are shaved down just a fraction of an inch for acceptable head room, and the three-person bench is conveniently swapped out for a two-adult arrangement. (Bench seats are available, just not preferred, if you catch our drift.)
The Cayenne Coupe holds 22 cubic feet of cargo with the seats folded up. Dropped down, the Cayenne Coupe holds 54.3 cubic feet of cargo.
2020 Porsche Cayenne
Because the Cayenne hasn’t been crash-tested, we can’t give it a rating for safety, even if it has a whole arsenal of safety technology.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested a new Porsche Cayenne, so we can’t issue a score for safety. If it does get tested in the future, we’ll update this page.
Though it hasn’t been tested, there is plenty of standard and optional safety equipment. All versions get forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Check a few boxes on the options sheet and you can get adaptive cruise control, active lane control, a surround-view camera system with off-road modes, LED-matrix headlights, and night vision.
2020 Porsche Cayenne
Plenty of features are available, but prices skyrocket quicker than a Turbo model accelerates to 60 mph.
Look at it from a certain angle and the Porsche Cayenne is almost a value at its $66,800 starting price. Look closer and you’ll find there’s options to drown in—but also a great infotainment system right out of the box. We ultimately give it a 7 out of 10 for standard equipment and optional features and its infotainment, but it loses one for value.
Even the most basic Cayenne gets leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, LED lighting, 10-speaker audio, and 19-inch wheels. You can upgrade to 14-way seats, rear-wheel steering, adaptive suspension, and a tow package. If you’re still holding on to your CD collection, the Cayenne even offers a six-disc CD changer option—how many cars or SUVs still offer one of those these days?
Next up on the ladder is the $83,950 Cayenne S, our choice of the lineup. Additional standard features include the adaptive suspension, 20-inch wheels, and a panoramic roof. More options to pick from include summer tires, $7,210 truffle-brown leather, acoustic glass, heated and cooled sport seats, and a surround-view camera system. There’s plenty of active driver-assist systems like adaptive cruise control on the menu as well. And for audiophiles, the $7,000 Burmester 21-speaker audio is a must-have.
Turbos don’t add too much to the S besides the rip-roaring V-8 powertrain, but they do include 21-inch wheels, heated seats front and rear, and an active rear spoiler. The Turbo starts at a tick over $125,000. A fully loaded Turbo with every box checked ran us $187,405.
Cayenne Coupes are new for 2020 and available in base, S, and Turbo configurations for about $8,000 to $9,000 more than their square-backed counterparts.
For the Cayenne, Porsche devised an infotainment system that ties together voice commands, steering wheel controls, and a beautifully rendered 12.3-inch touchscreen. This comprehensive system hides the controls for most of the car’s climate and audio functions, with buttons largely having been eradicated.
Luckily, the system is easy to use, clear to read, and not that hard to learn. Voice commands are better than ever, which is nice when you’re driving and don’t want to fiddle with a series of poking and prodding at the screen. Happily, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, with no upcharge—a rare example of Porsche not charging extra for something desirable.
2020 Porsche Cayenne
The only thing average about the Porsche Cayenne is its fuel economy.
Overall, the Cayenne is about average for this class of SUV, with the V-8 a good bit thirstier than average but the E-Hybrid better than most in the class. All this nets the Cayenne at a 4 out of 10 for gas mileage.
The EPA says the 2019 Cayenne with the single-turbo V-6 checks in at 19 mpg city, 23 highway, 21 combined. The twin-turbo V-6 is rated at 18/22/20 mpg. Cayenne Turbo models with their V-8s are good for a rather depressing 15/19/17 mpg.
The E-Hybrid models counter the gas-drunk V-8s 14-mile all-electric range and 21 mpg combined when putting the gas engine to use.
Cayenne Coupes rate identically to their normal counterparts, despite their slippery shapes.