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In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2017 Porsche Cayenne
The Porsche Cayenne boasts one of the highest price tags in the category, but it’s for good reason. The SUV is uncommonly sleek, refined, and packed with raw power.
The Cayenne’s base trim runs on a 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The SUV’s family includes four additional, more powerful variants. The 3.6-liter V6 powering the S and GTS trims returns 420 and 440 horsepower, respectively. The top-of-the-line Turbo and Turbo S trims get a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 engine that makes 520 horsepower and 570 horsepower.
Inside Porsche’s largest SUV, you’ll find an abundance of leather – covering the seats and door handles and wrapping around the center console and gear selector. The Cayenne also gets the Porsche Communication Management infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen that you can swipe and pinch. The drawback for large families is that, unlike competitors such as the BMW X5, the five-passenger Cayenne doesn’t come with an option for a third row. Adults fit comfortably in the back row, but the extra legroom comes at the expense of cargo space, which is below average.
The 2017 Porsche Cayenne has not been tested by either of the federal vehicle ratings agencies, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “IIHS doesn’t regularly test high-end sports or luxury models,” explains spokesman Russ Rader. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, a 360-degree view camera, and forward collision warning with automatic braking.
The base trim starts at $60,000. Starting prices for other trims increase up to $159,600 for the high-performance Turbo S trim.
What the experts are saying
“The word ‘slow’ has never been used to describe a Porsche Cayenne. Neither have the words ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘imprecise’ or ‘unrefined.’ Cayennes are simply impressive from behind the wheel. Each is a blast to drive. In fact, even the Cayenne S E-Hybrid is a bona fide hoot, zipping to 60 mph in only 5.4 seconds, yet returning an estimated 47 MPGe in hybrid electric mode. The Cayenne Diesel offers copious torque and near-30 mpg on the highway, while the Porsche Cayenne GTS, with its turbocharged V6, rockets from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The 570-horsepower Turbo S hits 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds. That’s crazy quick. However, there’s much more to the Cayenne than outright speed. Cornering precision is beyond what you should rightfully expect from any SUV, and the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is tuned to perfection. And it’s all delivered with the refinement of a world-class luxury car.” – Scott Oldham, contributing editor, KBB.com
“The 2017 Porsche Cayenne is an ultra-luxury sport SUV that combines the day-to-day utility of a practical SUV with the dynamic drive that only a Porsche can offer. Considered by most to be the car that saved the brand, the Porsche Cayenne has evolved itself into a true New Englander’s dream SUV. A turn of the ignition reveals an engine sound reminiscent of the very DNA that is imbedded deep in the lightweight steel and aluminum chassis of the Cayenne. Put your foot on the rectangle brake pedal, then smoothly glide the gear shifter into the drive position and let the 8-speed Tiptronic transmission guide you to your destination. The multi-function display in front of you on the dashboard allows access to all of the car’s major functions on the go, including a second navigation map, Bluetooth, and radio.” – Mikail Moiseyev, general manager, Porsche of Burlington
An aspirational SUV
“The Porsche Cayenne debuted last decade to some controversy. After all, here was an SUV from a brand renowned for pure sports cars. It has since proven itself an invaluable asset to Porsche and is controversial no more. The Cayenne is a cash machine given the luxury market’s love for SUVs, providing the automaker with the funds necessary to continue developing and making some of the most beloved sports cars on the planet. And, it is a stonking sports machine in its own right, providing an amazing and compelling mix of neck breaking speed, road gripping handling, and SUV functionality. Today’s Cayenne continues to be one of the most aspirational SUVs with one of the best performance credentials in the business. As performance SUVs have become more common in the luxury marketplace, Cayenne remains among the most desirable.” – Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at marketing research and consulting firm AutoPacific