by Michael Butler
It has been nearly two decades since Porsche entered the luxury SUV fray with its popular Cayenne SUV, and boy has this millennial grown up! The 2019 model comes hot off a full redesign that sees the exterior receiving a redesigned front grille, streamlined hood, and perfectly crafted rear end. Under the hood, the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 in the range-topping Turbo gets a bump in power, now delivering 541 horsepower and 567 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to get to sixty in under four seconds. That's supercar quick from an SUV that can haul mountain bikes, kids, and dogs to the park. On the road, no other SUV can touch it for driver engagement, and it's quite comfortable too. The only issue we have with the Cayenne Turbo is that, for the $124,600 asking price, you get very little in terms of standard features, especially in the safety department, which is exactly where competitors such as the BMW X5 shine. If you want to go seriously fast, but still need to be able to help your less-successful brother move into his new apartment, there is simply no other choice.
2019 sees the Porsche Cayenne Turbo going through a full redesign, entering its third generation with sharpened exterior looks, more power, and new standard features. The new model sees the Cayenne transition to the Volkswagen Group's MLBevo platform, shared with corporate siblings like the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga, and Audi Q8. The engine is new to the Cayenne, too, and is shared with numerous Audi products - a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 542 hp. Outside, it's clear to see that the Cayenne turbo has gone through a major update: in the front, you'll find a reshaped grille with adjustable air slats, which blends in with the enlarged air intakes on either side. The sweeping headlights now house standard LED lights across the range with optional dynamic lighting or LED Matrix units. In the rear, a solid line of lights replaces the bug-eyed look of the previous model, bringing it in line with cars such as the 911 and Panamera, and the redesigned rear spoiler features active adjustability which keeps it folded down in eco mode, and raises itself by nearly an inch in Sport Plus mode. Inside, the dash has been redesigned and now sport restyled air vents, the center console has been put on a diet, and loses most of the physical buttons present on the previous model. The infotainment display grows to 12.3-inches, and there's an old school tachometer in place, surrounded by two seven-inch color displays.
Porsche has given the 2019 Cayenne Turbo a once over as part of its major redesign, and while most won't really take notice, current owners and those interested in purchasing one will pick up on some of the more noticeable differences, such as the redesigned front grille and larger front air intakes. The hood is more streamlined, and in the back, the rear spoiler has received some minor tweaking, and the bug-eye rear taillights have been replaced by a solid light bar, which brings the overall design up to speed with the rest of the Porsche lineup. Exterior features on the 2019 Turbo include standard LED headlights with Porsche Dynamic Lighting, and active rear spoiler, as well as auto-dimming wing mirrors. The Turbo rides on a set of 21-inch alloy wheels finished off in Dark Titanium and covered by extended wheel arches, which, along with Turbo-specific twin-tailpipes, gives this Cayenne a more muscular look over the rest of the model range.
Officially classified as a mid-size luxury crossover SUV, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo measures 193.9 inches in length and is 86.3 inches wide when you include the wing mirrors. At 65.8 inches in height, the Turbo sits almost three inches lower than the BMW X5, and three higher than the Porsche Macan. The wheelbase measurement tells the same story: the Cayenne Turbo's 113.9-inch wheelbase is around three inches shorter than the BMW's, and 3.4 inches longer than the Macan's. Seeing as the Cayenne Turbo offers the illusion of off-road capability, it would be worth noting the 27.1-degree approach and 24.1-degree departure angle, as well as the 21.1-degree breakover angle at its most aggressive suspension settings. Ground clearance is 7.4 inches - not exactly confidence-inspiring when you're facing a rocky trail - but lift the air suspension to its maximum height in Off-road II mode, and you get an impressive 9.6 inches. Weighing in at 4,795 pounds, the Cayenne Turbo weighs almost 300 pounds less than the X5, but 300 lbs more than the Cayenne S.
The Cayenne Turbo suffers from a serious case of multiple personality disorder; some love it for its SUV practicality, while others think of it as an all-out performance car. These views are all justified, and the exterior color palette backs that theory up with a range of eleven hues of German flavor. White and Black are the two standard colors on offer at no cost, but you also get to choose from eight no-cost metallics, which include exotics such as Biscay Blue Metallic, Mahogany Metallic, and Quartzite Gray. For those who want something a bit more exclusive, Porsche offers one special color; Palladium Metallic. The Cayenne Turbo, with its more muscular look, deserves a paint job that will show off its curves, that's why we suggest going with something like Quartzite Gray Metallic
When the Porsche Cayenne made its debut back in 2002, it heralded in a new trend in modern motoring; the fast SUV would soon become one of the most popular choices for those seeking the thrills of a 911 with all the practicality of an SUV. The 2019 Cayenne Turbo is more powerful and accelerates to sixty faster than a 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo S: the official number for the Cayenne Turbo is 3.9 seconds, decreasing even further to 3.7 seconds when fitted with the Sport Chrono Package, which adds launch control. The quarter-mile line is crossed in 12.3 seconds and it will continue on to a top speed of 177 mph, which should give you an idea of the level of performance we're talking about here. The brand new twin-turbocharged V8, gets a healthy bump in horsepower and torque for 2019 and delivers mountains of torque from way down low in the rev range; this means the big Porsche is a pleasure to drive around town, feels like a cruise missile on the open road, and is capable of towing 7,716 lbs of braked trailer weight, but only 1,653 lbs of unbraked load. The ease with which the Cayenne Turbo delivers its power out in the real world makes it one of the easiest cars, nevermind SUVs, to drive fast.
Unlike Porsche's traditional sports cars, you won't find an engine in the back of the Cayenne; instead, you get a massive 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 in the front, that churns out 541 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. It is an undeniable fact that the Cayenne Turbo is a fast car, even by sports car standards, but the manner in which it delivers its power is deceptive, to say the least. The V8 engine delivers its torque over a broad range, which denies the driver the satisfaction of an old-school gut-punching shove - but it also means that the Cayenne picks up speed at a rate which is almost unimaginable for a family SUV. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission that's buttery when cruising around town, but offers convincingly responsive shifts when placed in a sportier setting. Leave the Cayenne Turbo in its most relaxed setting, and you'll be treated to wave after wave of linear, yet brute, acceleration that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
We've become accustomed to modern SUVs handling like regular sedans - or at least attempting to - but the Cayenne Turbo doesn't pretend. It does. The Cayenne Turbo feels like a Porsche when you get behind the wheel: the steering is precise, and although some concessions have had to be made to make it easy to drive around town, you can still place the car with good accuracy and confidence. The damping in Sport Plus mode makes a noticeable difference to how the Cayenne responds to demanding corners, but it always manages to keep a level head and communicate when it's getting close to the edge. The optional rear-axle steering with torque vectoring technology makes the Cayenne even more telepathic: you can feel the car steering around the corner, it's back wheels following the line of the front, which adds even more driver confidence. The optional dynamic chassis control works hand-in-hand with the standard air suspension system to quell body roll while maintaining good low to mid-speed comfort. Rear-axle steering and it's PTV Plus torque-vectoring tech makes a noticeable difference to mid-corner performance and steering feel, but takes some time getting used to.
Getting an SUV to sprint and speed like a true sports car comes at a cost to gas mileage figures. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S' twin-turbo V8 and 4,795-pound curb weight results in a measurement of 15/19/17 mpg city/highway/combined, which is a hard pill to swallow if all you're looking for is a practical SUV with some pace. But obviously, those buying the Turbo will have a good reason to do so. In comparison, the BMW X5 xDrive50i with its turbocharged V8 will get 17/22/19 mpg, although it should be noted that it produces almost 100 hp and 100 lb-ft less than the Porsche. The Macan manages 19/23/21 mpg. The Cayenne Turbo is fitted with a 23.7-gallon fuel tank, which gives it an estimated maximum range of 403 miles.
The Cayenne has always offered a premium luxury experience inside the cabin, and with the redesign for 2019, it looks more attractive than ever. What Porsche has done is redesign the dashboard to give it a less cluttered, and more contemporary look, which includes getting rid of most of the knobs and buttons found on the previous model, as well as redesigning the air vents. The slanted surface surrounding the gear shift knob looks like something straight out of Star Wars. Despite sitting at the top of the Cayenne range, most of the interior features are reserved for the options list, and you get very few as standard. What you do get is steering wheel heating, 18-way power-adjustable heated sports seats in leather, and Porsche's exemplary digital instrument cluster. Things like a panoramic roof, privacy glass, a heatable windshield, and a CD player are all optional extras. Despite being relatively devoid of standard features, the interior of the Cayenne Turbo is a luxurious and comfortable place to be, and combines practical SUV elements such as off-road type hand grips, with the focus of a sports car in the shape of body-hugging seats and a sporty steering wheel.
Front passengers will enjoy the hugging bucket seats: they're not as hardcore as the ones you'd find in a 911 or Cayman, but they offer good support during hard cornering, are supremely comfortable when you're not driving like a hooligan, and even offer optional massage and ventilation functionality, while heating and 18-way power adjustability is standard. Hats off to Porsche for that one. Porsche doesn't provide any official numbers for the amount of legroom and headroom on offer, but we found that six-foot-tall passengers had adequate space in the front. Naturally, space in the rear is tighter, but it should still provide enough space for three average-sized adults. The driving position is good, despite feeling a tad lofty, but this is to be expected from an SUV. Seat and steering wheel adjustability is good, and drivers of all shapes and sizes should find a comfortable seating position without much hassle.
As we've come to expect from Porsche, the interior is filled with premium materials that feel every bit as luxurious as cars double the price. The Cayenne Turbo comes standard with two no-cost seat materials: Black leather and Slate Grey leather with the two-tone Black and Mojave Beige asking a small premium. Covering the dashboard and other trim pieces in solid leather is an optional extra, and Porsche gives six options, which include a Black and Bordeaux Red combo or Graphite Blue and Chalk. For those who want something even more exclusive, Porsche offers two Club Leather packages: Truffle Brown and a Truffle Brown and Cohiba Brown mix. Other options include an Alcantara headliner, Dark Walnut, Anthracite Chestnut, or Red Gum insets, in addition to the standard Turbo-specific cross-brushed aluminum, as well as must-haves such as Aluminum or carbon fiber door-sills, dash inserts. You can even get carbon fiber floor mats if you feel like being excessive.
The Cayenne Turbo is, first and foremost, a practical SUV that offers lots of interior space for privileged families around the world. With the second-row seat in the upright position, the Cayenne Turbo offers up a useful 26.3 cubic feet of space, which grows to 59.3 cubic feet when folded down, and gives a good indication of the Cayenne's superior practicality when compared to the Porsche Macan's maximum capacity of 53 cubic feet. The big Porsche loses out to the BMW X5 when it comes to overall cargo space; behind the second row, the X5 offers 35.8 cubic feet, growing to 76.7 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down. Porsche does, however, attempt to aid easy loading, with the air suspension able to lower the body by 2.21 inches in Loading Level state.
A medium-sized center console storage bin can swallow a phone or two, and the door pockets offer enough space for two Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire books.
Porsche tends to keep the standard features list short, and it has been made abundantly clear on the Cayenne Turbo that you'll have to check a significant amount of boxes to get it up to the level of the BMW X5. What you do get is adaptive air suspension with ride-height adjustment, active aero, auto-dimming wing mirrors, LED headlights, and front and rear parking sensors on the outside, while the interior is blessed with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, two-zone climate control a heated steering wheel, heated power-adjustable sport seats, and heated rear seats as well as an Alcantara roof lining. Not that impressive, is it? Optional extras include four-zone climate control, a panoramic roof, ventilated seats in the front, a head-up display as well as soft-close doors, a hands-free tailgate, a surround-view camera system, and privacy glass. The unavoidable fact is that, for nearly half the asking price, the BMW X5 offers more standard features.
Sure, the solid LED rear taillight looks great, and the increased engine output is appreciated, but those features quickly fade into the background when you get used to the Cayenne Turbo through day to day use. The updated infotainment system is the gift that keeps on giving and plays one of the most significant roles in making the 2019 car genuinely feel like a redesigned model. The big 12.3-inch infotainment display screen dominates the center of the Cayenne's dashboard and contributes significantly to the overall clean and streamlined look of the interior. The Porsche Communication Management system is a joy to use, and in combination with a responsive touch screen, delivers one of the best infotainment experiences in its class. Features include navigation with voice control, optional Apple CarPlay, and two USB charging ports in the front and rear as well as Bluetooth streaming, an SD card slot, and CD/DVD player. The standard Bose sound system features ten speakers with 150-watt output; a more advanced surround sound Bose system adds four more speakers, including a separate subwoofer and 14-channel amplifier, but for the serious audiophiles, Porsche offers a 21-speaker Burmester 3D surround sound system which will blow the doors off at full tilt, as well as dedicated displays for back seat passengers.
The Porsche Cayenne, despite its hefty price tag and insane levels of performance, will still be required to perform the duties of a regular family SUV; hence, it is a prerequisite that it be dependable all year round. According to the NHTSA, the Porsche Cayenne has been recalled five times in the last year; the recalls issued for problems ranging from loosening shock absorbers to seatbelt quality issues. Still, J.D. Power gives the 2019 Cayenne an impressive score of 90 out of a possible 100. Porsche covers the Cayenne Turbo with a competitive four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which includes twelve years of corrosion cover, a four-year/50,000-mile drivetrain warranty, and four years worth of roadside assistance.
The low-volume Cayenne hasn't been crash-tested by either the NHTSA or IIHS, nevermind the exclusive Turbo version, but we can confirm that the 2017 model achieved a full five stars on the Euro NCAP rating scale, which is no mean feat; and, considering this third-generation has been built with more safety features than ever before, we expect it to be safer than anything that's come before it.
Porsche has been close-fisted with its safety feature offering on the 2019 Cayenne Turbo, which is not surprising seeing as they've operated on an options-reliant sales model for ages, but skimping out in this category seems almost inhuman. Standard safety features include auto-forward braking, big brakes, eight airbags including front knee airbags, with the option for two more rear-seat side airbags, and stability control. If you want anything more advanced, you'll have to reach for your wallet. Optional driver assistance features include a head-up display, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, and even night vision, as well as lane change assist, and rear side airbags. With a starting price of over $120,000, it is almost unacceptable that Porsche hasn't included even basic features such as blind-spot monitoring. In comparison, the 2019 BMW X5 offers auto headlights, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, as well as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, all as standard.
The 2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo is a magnificent car in the sense that it delivers a truly electrifying performance that fools the driver into thinking that he or she is driving a sports car of much smaller dimensions and weight. In fact, it is so good that it has become a completely acceptable surrogate for car buyers who have traditionally split their garages between a 911 and a traditional SUV: exactly what Porsche was aiming for. In town and on long road trips, the Cayenne Turbo offers top-class comfort and practicality and has enough passenger and cargo space to make it a viable option for medium-sized families. The gorgeously crafted interior looks better than ever thanks to a major overhaul which sees most of the hard buttons being replaced by smooth surfaces, and the 12.3-inch infotainment display is one of the best we've come in contact with. There are some downsides, however: Porsche forces you to make extensive use of the options list, as you get a very basic list of standard features; but what is worse is the fact that they've withheld most of the active safety features which competitors offer as standard. At the end of the day, no other SUV comes close to offering the balance of practicality, luxury, and performance, but it comes at a hefty premium.
Class-leading performance comes at a price. The 2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo starts off with an MSRP of $124,600 excluding a destination fee of $1,050, but you'd be fooled to think that you'll get away with that price: the Cayenne Turbo is a fantastic car, but its standard features list reads like something you'd find in a medium-sized Japanese sedan, and you'll have to tick plenty of boxes to end up with something that truly resembles a luxury SUV. The top-of-the-line BMW X5 xDrive50i, which shares a lot of similarities with the Cayenne, starts at only $76,745, which begs the question, are you really willing to spend $50,000+ more for an SUV that can sprint to sixty a second or so quicker? Fully kitted, the Cayenne Turbo will set you back near, or even over, the $200k mark.
There's only one model on offer bearing a Turbo badge and topping the combustion-powered Cayenne range, so the purchasing decision will boil down to how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. For 2019 Porsche offers the Cayenne Turbo with standard LED headlights, active aero including front grille shutters and a rear wing, active air suspension, and auto-dimming side mirrors on the exterior side of things. Inside, you're greeted with heated and power-adjustable leather seats that are some of the most comfortable we've tested. There is a 12.3-inch infotainment display and a ten-speaker Bose sound system with optional Apple CarPlay and navigation, as well as dual-zone climate control and front/rear parking sensors. The most attractive feature of the 2019 Cayenne Turbo has to be the twin-turbo V8 that pushes out 541 hp and catapults the big SUV to sixty in under four seconds on a perfect launch.
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Seeing as Porsche reserves most of the Cayenne's features for the optional extras list, you'll have to make peace with the fact that you're going to have to forget about the starting price of $127,850. Exterior options include $4,060 22-inch Jet Black Metallic wheels, while the interior options list deserves an entire write up of its own. Most notable on the options list is the Premium Package Plus, which adds four-zone climate control, LED Matrix Plus headlights, front-seat ventilation, lane change assist, and ambient lighting for $3,740, while the optional massage function for the sports seats will set you back $2,000, the same as adaptive cruise control. For those who like their Mozart at 11, the $5,810 Burmester 3D sound system is a no-brainer. On the performance side of things, there's a bunch of interesting options, one of which is the $2,000 off-road package, which adds extra underbody protection, a gradient and steering angle display in the standard display screen, and a second towing eye. The Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control package adds improved roll stabilization and improves overall handling performance in conjunction with the adaptive air suspension, all for $3,590. Of course, for those who care about split seconds, the Sport Chrono package adds extra drive modes including launch control.
There's only one model on offer, so the question should be what additional options you should go for. On the exterior, it all boils down to personal choice in terms of color and wheel choice; but that's all on you. If we were in the market, we'd go for the Premium Package Plus which adds four-zone climate control, LED Matrix headlights with Porsche's dynamic light system as well as front seat ventilation, lane change assist, and ambient lighting. And, because going fast is fun, we'd also spring for the Dynamic Chassis Control and rear-axle steering packages, and why not let that V8 roar with a sports exhaust system. Inside, the head-up display, park assistance, and adaptive cruise control would also make it onto our list. With all of these options selected, you'll be looking at a total asking price closer to $150,000.
BMW's ever-popular X5 has grown up alongside the Cayenne and has been around since the start of the new millennium (does that make the X5 a millennial?). Comparing the base model would be futile, so we'll use the top of the line xDrive50i. Powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8, the X5 pushes out 456 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, which is nearly 100 units less in each category when compared to the Cayenne Turbo. Still, this more than enough to give the X5 some serious pace. Fuel consumption comes in at 17/22/19 mpg city/highway/combined, slightly better than the Porsche. The Porsche is dynamically the better car; it handles better and is undoubtedly faster, but the X5 is just as comfortable when driving under normal conditions. From here on out it doesn't look good for the Porsche: the X5 offers more standard creature comforts and safety features and offers more cargo space, and with a starting price of under $80k, you'll have to think long and hard about whether you really need to go from zero to sixty in under four seconds.
Who doesn't like a bit of sibling rivalry, especially when the siblings in question share the VW Group's MLBevo platform and a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8? That's the case with the Lamborghini Urus, one of the latest in a string of super-SUVs making it to market. But the Italian cousin of the Cayenne Turbo has hit the gym and gleens an extra 100 hp and 59 lb-ft of torque from the turbo V8 beneath its hood, resulting in a 0.3-second improvement in the 0-60 mph sprint compared to the Porsche. But that means it's thirstier, and considering its penchant for devouring racetracks, its far more hardcore. The Porsche rides and handles more comfortably, yet is still immensely capable when thrown into its various sport modes and put through its paces. The Cayenne Turbo also manages several other practicalities better - like more than five cubic feet of extra cargo volume. To those who want a Urus for the brand cachet of owning a Lamborghini, none of that will matter, but for the discerning buyer, the sacrifice in power is worthwhile for some additional comfort, practicality, and a $75,400 discount in base MSRP.
The Macan is Porsche dipping its fat fingers in the lucrative honey pot that is the crossover SUV segment, and it's not a bad attempt at all. The most obvious difference between the Macan and Cayenne Turbo is the fact that the Macan is a compact crossover SUV, while the Cayenne is a straight forward middle-size SUV. The Macan is powered by either a 2.0-liter inline-four or turbocharged V6 producing between 248 and 348 hp, putting it way out of the Cayenne league, but on the plus side, the frugal 2.0-liter Macan will return 20/25/22 mpg. It goes without saying that the Macan offers less passenger and cargo space, but the interior is just as nice, and the use of premium materials is clear to see. Starting at just under $50k, the Macan is an interesting option for small families who want luxury, practicality, performance, and an exotic badge on the hood.