First Look

2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid First Look Review: The Sleeper That Deserves Attention

The smart choice in the new Cayenne lineup.

Whenever a new model comes out, we in the media just love to tell you how important it is for the company, how it represents the future of the brand or is a crucial model in the lineup to drive sales. The 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, on the other hand, is just another cog in the Porsche money-making machine. The Cayenne as a model line in Porsche’s business is, of course, hugely important for its popularity and profits, but it's hard not to see this plug-in hybrid as just a placeholder until the Mission E arrives.

It is an exercise in parts sharing with the larger Volkswagen Group and application of costly research and development in a segment that might actually make some money. But with the demise and disgrace of diesel, it becomes an efficiency champion for the brand. As it turns out, quite a few people are happy to take a dose of efficiency with their sporty luxury utility, growing to represent 12 percent of the Cayenne’s 13,000 sales volume in 2017, though it was a down year because of the switch to a new model. The new 2019 hybrid model, coming in at the exact same $79,900 starting price, offers more power, quicker acceleration, increased electric-only range, and it will surely offer improved overall efficiency, which we’ll find out once EPA tests it.

The new Cayenne will start at $65,700 in base trim and the sportier Cayenne S at $82,900, both prices leaping over $5,000, so the E-Hybrid now slots between them in price even though in some ways it outperforms the Cayenne S. For example, the E-hybrid produces a peak of 455 combined horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, while the S tops out at 434 and 406, respectively. With that much more torque available from the electric motor and even the gas engine delivering max torque at 1,340 rpm, the E-Hybrid beats the S to 60 mph at 4.7 seconds compared to 4.9 (and 5.4 for the previous generation Cayenne S E-Hybrid).

It evens out over the long run. The hybrid’s 5,060 pounds (that’s over 600 lb heavier than the 4,454-lb Cayenne S) catches up to it, resulting in the same 13.3-second quarter mile times, while the Cayenne S boasts a higher top speed at 164 mph. The E-Hybrid tops out at 157 mph. Granted, you’re not likely planning to take either to the drag strip or local track day, but the performance numbers serve to show that the E-Hybrid will be quicker across an intersection and getting up to highway speeds - things that you might car about in the real world.

But when you’re not in a rush, you can probably travel the first 25 miles on electric power alone thanks to a 14.1-kWh lithium ion battery, emitting no tailpipe emissions and saving bundles of money on short haul trips depending on the cost of electricity in your area. And even when powered solely by the 134-hp electric motor, driving should be fairly brisk thanks to 295 lb-ft of torque that can comfortably get the car up to highway speeds and cruise along without gasoline intervention. The 2019 Cayenne E-Hybrid has been rated for up to 27 miles of electric range (and that would take ideal temperatures, traffic, and speed conditions) according to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which is more reasonable than in the past.

This might still not be as realistic as the EPA ratings, which pegged the current Cayenne S E-Hybrid at 14 miles of electric range and 47 MPGe combined. Charging at 240V Stage 2 stations should take less than 8 hours using the standard 3.6-kW on-board charger, but there is an option for a 7.2-kW on-board charger that will reduce that time to 2.3 hours from empty to full. Household 110V outlets will likely take approximately double those times. You can just plug and charge, or set charging times to take advantage of off-peak rates using the Porsche Connect app, which can also find charging stations and set one as a nav destination.

Porsche was also careful not let the battery infringe on practicality, so the trunk has the same 27.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity, but there is no mention of whether they fold down. The overall drive should vary little from the gas-powered Cayennes (which you can read all about in our First Drive) in hybrid or either of the sport modes, as the eight-speed transmission and clutches paring the transmission and electric motor have been revised for the new E-Hybrid to offer quicker, more seamless shifts and switches between gas and electric power. The Cayenne E-Hybrid has the usual Sport and Sport Plus modes, aided by standard Sport Chrono Package and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM).

That can be paired with optional air suspension, and all-wheel drive to enhance traction in any weather. However, there are also several drive modes unique to the E-Hybrid: E-Power for driving on pure electricity, Hybrid Auto for ideal efficiency combining gas and electric power, E-Hold to preserve the battery charge, and E-Charge, which runs the engine a bit harder to charge the battery. The plug-in hybrid version also heralds the arrival of a handful of new features for the entire Cayenne model line, which include massaging seats, heated windshield, head-up display, and 22-inch wheels.

Another neat option is InnoDrive, which takes the adaptive cruise control to another level, combining data from on-board sensors with map route data (like upcoming corners or elevation changes) and ‘looking’ up to 1.8 miles ahead to inform gear selection, coasting and the mix of electric and gas power sources. Finally, the Cayenne E-Hybrid includes some distinctive design touches to draw attention to its electrified powertrain, including acid green trimmed badges and brake calipers outside and throughout the cabin, as well as special info screens with hybrid-specific info. For more about the general layout and features of the Cayenne and Cayenne S, read up on our model overview.

The Cayenne E-Hybrid is in a difficult position; it doesn’t have the sex appeal of high-powered Turbo or GTS models, and isn’t as affordable as the entry level models, so it will take the urging of dealership sales staff to point out that it is the smart choice. With its mix of mid-trim pricing, efficient yet powerful powertrain, and all the practical benefits of the Cayenne lineup, it’s a sleeper that deserves attention and not any sort of stigma that hybrids are more expensive and offer less value than their gas-powered counterparts.

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Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
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