2016 Porsche Cayenne

Rating

85/100

Background

Four available engines in a single car would be enough diversity for most automakers. But Porsche isn’t like most automakers. In addition to last year’s diesel, turbocharged V6, hybrid and turbo V8, the 2016 Porsche Cayenne gains a base V6, sporty GTS and the full-bore Turbo S. Power output ranges from 240 to 570 horses, with combined fuel economy on the spectrum of 23 miles per gallon to "who cares, as long as the tank isn’t empty?" Burger King may have invented the "Have it your way" slogan, but Porsche could easily adopt it for its Cayenne crossover SUV.
Beyond the engines, there’s an extensive feature set that allows the Cayenne to cater to just about every desire. Sports auto SUV? No problem: Just order from an array of high-tech suspension, drivetrain and brake add-ons. Winter sports-mobile? Standard all-wheel drive is there to help you out. Mall-crawler? Don’t worry, friend; the Cayenne is suitably luxurious for any valet line. Really, the only drawbacks to the Cayenne are: a) insubstantial cargo space and b) the substantial impact on your bank account, even as luxury crossover SUVs go.
You can spend less to get one of the Cayenne’s chief rivals, the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. It also offers a range of engines from a diesel to a 550-horsepower supercharged V8. It also has third-row seating for smaller occupants. The 2016 BMW X5 is another sporty choice with several engines on tap, as well as an optional third row. It isn’t as sporty as the Cayenne, but the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE (the newly renamed ML) is all-new and boasts the latest technology features and a truly excellent interior. You really can’t go wrong here, but if you want performance, luxury and efficiency customized to how you want it, there’s really nothing better than the 2016 Cayenne.

Drive

While it reduces the barrier to entry of the 2016 Porsche Cayenne, the base engine offers neither the performance promised by the badge nor the fuel economy of the diesel motor. The S is the real jumping-off point here, with much better acceleration and just a slight hit to EPA estimates. For those who want the best of both worlds, the plug-in S E-Hybrid is even faster and promises full-electric power, if only for a short distance. And the turbocharged V8s are in play to hustle the Cayenne from A to B right now.
Regardless of engine choice, the unflappable handling and sublime steering make the Cayenne an excellent sport SUV. The PDCC system has the Cayenne cornering flat through the twisty bits, making it a must-have for buyers looking to maximize their fun quotient. During more relaxed driving, the Cayenne’s firm drive is noticeable, but we don’t consider it overly harsh or uncomfortable. You may find it difficult to navigate traffic with ease, however, as the small sideview mirrors don’t provide the best coverage.

Exterior

The 2016 Porsche Cayenne is a five-passenger midsize SUV available in seven trim levels that correspond to the engine that lies under the hood: base Cayenne, Diesel, S, S E-Hybrid, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S.
The base Cayenne and Diesel versions come standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights and daytime running lights, foglights, automatic wipers, power-folding heated mirrors, a power tailgate, rear privacy glass, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, partial leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cooled glovebox, a manually sliding and reclining rear seat, 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a 7-inch central touchscreen, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system with a USB interface, an auxiliary input and HD radio.
The Cayenne S substitutes a turbocharged V6 gasoline engine and adds 19-inch wheels, speed-sensitive variable steering effort ("Power Steering Plus"), a power-adjustable steering wheel, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, driver memory settings and mirror-mounted turn signals.
The S E-Hybrid comes with a plug-in hybrid power system, adaptive suspension dampers (PASM), Porsche Car Connect with E-mobility (providing remote access to important hybrid features via a smartphone app), a 3.6-kilowatt onboard charger (a 7.2 kW charger is available) and an energy management display in the instrument cluster.
The new GTS is driven by the most powerful V6 available for the Cayenne. It also adds 20-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, a selectable sport exhaust, high-performance brakes, LED foglights and tinted taillights, 14-way power front seats, partial simulated suede upholstery and headliner and unique exterior styling elements.
A turbocharged V8 is found under the hood of the Turbo variant, in addition to adaptive LED headlights,a heated steering wheel,a full leather interior, 18-way adaptive heated front seats, rear outboard sport seats, heated front and rear seats and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound sound system with satellite radio and HD radio.
The range-topping Turbo S returns for 2016 and adds a more powerful V8, carbon-fiber interior trim and the Sport Chrono package with dash-mounted timer. It also includes handling upgrades such as Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), side-to-side torque-vectoring rear differential (PTV Plus) and ultrahigh-performance carbon-ceramic brakes.
The Cayenne’s dizzying options list starts with four main packages. The Infotainment package, offered on all but the Turbo and Turbo S, adds the Bose stereo, satellite radio and integrated "online services" (including the Aha smartphone app with on-demand music, Internet radio, Facebook and Twitter feeds, traffic and weather reports and Google POI search).
The Sport package, available on the base, Diesel, S, S E-Hybrid and Turbo models, combines (where not already specified) the Sport Chrono package, 14-way power front seats with driver memory settings, sport exhaust, air suspension and adaptive dampers.
Available on all trims except Turbo S, the Premium package adds (where not already specified) Power Steering Plus, extended LED accent lighting, adaptive xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and 14-way power heated and ventilated front seats with memory functions. On the base and Diesel, this package includes the sunroof, while the S, S E-Hybrid, GTS and Turbo get a panoramic sunroof (optional on base and Diesel). On the GTS, this package does not include ventilated front seats or adaptive xenon headlights.
Finally, the Premium Package Plus adds (where not already specified) adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, heated rear seats, power rear window sunshades and a blind-spot monitor (upgradable to a lane departure warning system) to the Premium package.
Many features that come standard on upper trim levels or included in the above packages can be ordered as stand-alone options. They include various wheel designs (ranging from 18-21 inches in diameter), carbon-ceramic brakes, aero body-panel extensions, skid plates, off-road underbody protection, running boards, roof rails, power-closing doors, quad-zone automatic climate control, ventilated rear seats, a surround-view camera and a seemingly endless array of customizable interior bits. There’s also adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking, a blind-spot warning system, voice command functionality, a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system, a 16-speaker Burmester sound system and WiFi hotspot capability.
Unlike many rivals, the Cayenne offers almost all of its high-end options on every trim level. One exception is PDCC, which features active stabilizer bars that promote flatter cornering; another is Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), which distributes torque between the rear wheels to sharpen handling response. Neither is offered on the Diesel or S E-Hybrid trims.

Interior

The cabin of the 2016 Porsche Cayenne is instantly recognizable to anyone who has driven a new Porsche in the last few years. The center console cleanly separates driver from passenger, giving the front row a cockpit-style layout. The 50-plus controls that adorn the console can feel daunting at first, but after a slight learning curve, their arrangement makes sense. The 7-inch touchscreen is slightly smaller and dated compared to other cutting-edge widescreen displays, but is functional and easy to use.
The interior is awash with attractive, soft-touch surfaces. Nearly every plastic piece on the most modest of trims can be replaced by leather, wood, carbon fiber or faux suede. The standard eight-way power seats are extremely comfortable, but 18-way sport seats are available for those who want their seating positions just right. The sculpted rear seats not only recline, but also slide fore and aft to create extra rear cargo space (they also gain cool sport bolsters in Turbo and Turbo S trims).
With the backseat in its aft-most position, the Cayenne has a luggage capacity of 23.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which is a pretty tiny number for a midsize crossover. Maximum space with the rear seatbacks flipped forward is a slightly more respectable 62.9 cubic feet, matching the competitor Range Rover Sport. In the S E-Hybrid, these figures drop to 20.5 and 59.7, respectively, while the Turbo gets the full 23.6 cubes in back but drops to 60.2 in total. On the bright side, the air suspension comes with a retractable load sill that lowers the cargo-area liftover height by a couple inches.

Safety

The 2016 Porsche Cayenne comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The standard "multi-collision brake system" automatically slows the car down to 6 miles per hour after an initial collision occurs in order to minimize further damage; note that the driver can override it by pressing the accelerator.
Available electronic safety features include front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a surround-view camera, a blind-spot monitor and lane departure warning. The optional adaptive cruise control system is bundled with a forward collision mitigation system that provides automatic pre-impact emergency braking if a collision is deemed imminent.
In SUVS brake testing, a Cayenne S came to a stop from 60 miles per hour in 106 feet, while a Cayenne S E-Hybrid stopped in 118 feet. Other Cayennes we have tested offer braking performance similar to the S. These are exceptional braking distances for an SUV.

Specs

All 2016 Cayennes employ an eight-speed automatic transmission, which includes an automatic stop-start system for reduced fuel consumption in all but the Diesel trim. All-wheel drive is standard as well, but there are two versions: The Diesel and S E-Hybrid feature a single-mode system with a self-locking center differential, while the other models come with an active system that adds two additional off-road modes and a locking rear differential.
The base 2016 Porsche Cayenne is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. Porsche says the entry-level model accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.3 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy to be 21 miles per gallon combined (19 city/24 highway).
The Cayenne Diesel utilizes a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 that develops 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. While the Diesel is all about fuel economy, the sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour is estimated by Porsche to take just 7.2 seconds. Fuel economy is a commendable 23 miles per gallon combined (20/29).
Under the hood of the Cayenne S lies the first of the truly performance-oriented engines. Its turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 pumps out 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. In SUVS performance testing, a Cayenne S with 21-inch wheels took just 5.4 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill. The EPA rates the S at 20 miles per gallon combined (17/24).
The GTS model bumps the output of this engine to 440 hp and 443 lb-ft. Porsche estimates the GTS accelerates from zero to 60 in just 4.9 seconds, while fuel economy is lowered 1 miles per gallon all around compared to the S.
The plug-in S E-Hybrid features a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that works in parallel with an electric motor to produce a maximum of 416 hp and 435 lb-ft. Like many plug-in hybrids, the S E-Hybrid should be capable of driving in pure electric mode (about 20 miles) before the gas engine kicks in. Recharging a drained battery takes about 2.7 hours using the standard 3.6-kilowatt onboard charger and high-voltage current; an optional 7.2-kilowatt charger cuts that time in half. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 22 miles per gallon combined (21/24). Despite the fuel efficiency that its name suggests, the S E-Hybrid is no slouch on the track. This hot-rod hybrid made the 0-60-mph run in 5.2 seconds in recent SUVS testing.
A turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 with 520 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque moves the Cayenne Turbo. Porsche says the Cayenne Turbo can make the 0-60-mph sprint in 4.2 seconds. The Turbo S ups the ante by boosting engine output to 570 hp and 590 lb-ft. This should further reduce the 0-60 time to an astounding 3.8 seconds. Both Turbos carry an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 miles per gallon combined (14/21).
In all versions of the Cayenne except the S E-Hybrid, a Sport Chrono package is offered, which shaves a tenth of a second from these 0-60 times when its launch control program is activated.
All Cayennes except the S E-Hybrid are rated to haul a healthy 7,716 pounds.

Value

Rewarding handling; wide range of engines available, from a plug-in hybrid model to the ultrafast Turbo S trim; exquisite interior; highly customizable.

Verdict

The 2016 Porsche Cayenne is both sporty and indulgent, and its comprehensive lineup includes a diesel-powered model, a plug-in hybrid and a turbocharged V8. It might be the best all-around crossover on the market.

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