2024 Porsche Cayenne First Drive Review: Another Step Up

First Drive / 8 Comments

This isn't just a facelift - this is improving on perfection.

Porsche is a master of evolution, and for the 2024 model year, the Cayenne evolves again. Normally, this would be considered a facelift, but we're considering this update as an overhaul of the third-generation Cayenne. It gets a thoroughly redesigned interior, an upgraded exterior, chassis upgrades, and a slew of new standard features. The base model carries over the 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 but with 13 horsepower more; the Cayenne S now replaces the V6 with a Porsche-developed twin-turbo four-liter V8 making 468 hp and is capable of sprinting to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, with the Sport Chrono Package added.

Power is only part of the Cayenne's recipe, and along with heavily revised suspension to increase comfort and performance, standard equipment through the range now includes features like Matrix Design LED headlights, Porsche Active Suspension Management, Lane Change Assist, Lane Keep Assist, and wireless charging. New 20-inch wheels are standard - until you reach the insanity of the range-topper, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe GT, which rides on 22-inch wheels.

Porsche invited us to drive the Cayenne S and the Turbo Coupe GT models on California's coastal highway and in the canyons of Malibu for a day to get to know them a little.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Exterior: Low Key Style

Since its inception, Porsche has willfully resisted any urge to go over the top with the Cayenne, and it carries on with a restrained body style complimented by athletic proportions. This has been exaggerated for 2024 with restyled fenders and hood. Its redesigned headlight units still let the world know it's a Porsche with its distinctive running lights. At the back, new three-dimension styled taillights add detail, and the new rear fascia with integrated license plate holder de-clutters a rear end that wasn't exactly busy in the first place.

Two sizable exhaust outlets are standard on the Tubo GT, while there is a quad-outlet setup on the base SUV, and the existing color palette is updated with the addition of Algarve Blue Metallic, Montego Blue Metallic, and Arctic Grey.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Interior: An Ergonomic Redesign

There wasn't much to complain about with the previous Cayenne interior, but there's even less to complain about now. The most obvious change is in the gear selector moving to the dashboard with a large aviation-style toggle switch that we expected to hate. Instead, we found it was easy and smooth to use while freeing up the center console for some satisfying switches that control heating and air-conditioning and opening up extra storage space. While the previous touch-sensitive layout wasn't a dealbreaker, Porsche has listened to criticism and executed a pleasing solution. While there are some haptic buttons, the automaker has done a great job ensuring the most often-used controls are easy to find and use.

In terms of seating and driving position, not much has changed, and the Cayenne remains a comfortable place to be. The driving position is easy to set, and there is great visibility. The backseat is roomy enough to house two tall adults comfortably.

The steering wheel is upgraded for the new model year, and it will look familiar to anyone that's driven a current 911. It's reworked to include the selector for the Normal, Offroad, Sport, and Sport Plus drive modes, and it now has a toggle button for switching functions and displays in the gauge cluster, too.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Infotainment: Porsche Driver Experience

The most noticeable change inside the new Cayenne range is the new Porsche Driver Experience system ported across from the Taycan. The idea is to balance digital and analog elements, and the digital side is beautifully executed. The gauge cluster is a freestanding and curved 12.6-inch unit with all the variable display abilities you would expect. In the center of the dash is another 12.3-inch screen using the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system that includes native apps for services like Spotify and Apple Music. It's an elegant system, and it can now be extended further for the front passenger with a 10.9-inch display ahead of their seat.

The passenger display gives separate access to the infotainment system and performance data but, most importantly for those long drives, streaming video content. So as not to distract the driver, the passenger screen has an extra layer that shields it from the driver, leaving it black from that viewing angle.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Drivetrains: The Right Tools For The Job

There are four drivetrain options available across the 2024 Cayenne range, although a fifth option could be in the cards in the form of the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. As it stands, the base plug-in hybrid model uses the existing turbocharged V6 and a new 174-hp electric motor for a combined total of 463 hp. This is a step up over the base gas model's 348 hp and 369 lb-ft. The new addition for 2024 is the 4.0-liter V8 making 468 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque in the Cayenne S. The Turbo GT coupe has the same twin-turbo four-liter V8 engine as before, but the output is increased by 19 hp to 650 hp.

In our time with the Cayenne S, the upgrade over the V6 was instantly noticed. The six-cylinder in the base model is not slow, but the new V8 is a more authoritative power plant. The exhaust sound is growly but muted so as not to be obnoxious, and the transmission is just as direct and fluid in its shifts in normal driving mode.

The Turbo GT's V8 is a different kettle of fish, though. It ups the ante from authoritative to outright aggressive when pushed and roars in a most satisfying manner. The red button on the mode selector gives a boost that pushes the engine to maximum performance for 20 seconds - but be warned - it's addictive.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Driving Impressions: Balance As An Art Form

We have always been unashamed fans of the Cayenne, and the new models just underscore why. In the past, we found the Cayenne S to be the sweet spot for those that want the full Porsche experience from an SUV, and it remains so. The ride is smooth, but the chassis is reactive and keeps the Cayenne stable for when you take the long and winding way home from work on a Friday. It's fast, but it's also a consummate cruiser, even on recently deteriorated roads from the recent heavy rains in California. The steering is just as well tuned as the suspension, which is fantastic at low speeds and when pushing the Cayenne through the corners. That's where the differences for 2024 shone through. There's a greater difference between comfort and sport modes now, most obvious in the power delivery, but also in the ride quality from the new suspension geometry and settings. The Cayenne does it all while retaining its poise and dexterity - and having some of the best standard brakes we've come across on an SUV.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

The Cayenne Turbo GT is where you go if you want a more fundamental Porsche experience but still want the daily usability and usefulness of a crossover; it's only available in the coupe body style, however. This writer pushed hard for the pre-update version of the Turbo GT to be CarBuzz'sCar Of The Year because it's just that good. The 2024 model maintains this high standard: It blends supercar and SUV with such refinement that its $196,300 price tag seems reasonable once you've experienced it.

We didn't get to push the Turbo GT as hard as we did on our full test drive, but it was instantly familiar yet subtly different with its new adaptive air suspension (an optional extra on other models). It's ridiculously good at reducing body motion with minimal effect on ride quality, and you can carve corners at pace without upsetting a passenger who would, in other cars, be reaching for the grab handles.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Conclusion: If You Have The Means

The Cayenne's ability to balance performance and adaptability is the key; it switches between an easy-going cruiser and an aggressive back-road brawler without compromise. We genuinely spent an hour looking for a weak spot, but the Cayenne S managed to pull off being a sophisticated and technology-oriented luxury crossover and sure-footed, genuinely sporty SUV in one hit. We still think it's the Cayenne sweet spot (at an MSRP of $95,700 in SUV guise and $102,100 for the coupe version) that manages luxury and sportiness equally well. But with the additional standard features, the $79,200 base SUV is still a compelling option for those that just want ample power for daily use. The base Cayenne coupe costs $84,300 with the gas V6 and $95,700 with the hybrid setup.

Could we find something wrong with the new Cayenne? Not in a couple of hours driving the respective extremes of the lineup. There are rivals with more space and a larger cargo area in the segment, but they don't have that same precision when driving or the ability to balance comfort and athleticism so effortlessly. Porsche still hasn't built a bad car in years, and it's now upgraded one of its finest offerings. You can have luxury and fun in one vehicle. It's just not cheap.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

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