The 2014 Porsche Cayenne features minor trim and color changes. Some reorganization of the many buttons on the center console makes room for a specific button to activate the sport exhaust on so-equipped cars. Last year, the Cayenne Diesel and Cayenne S Hybrid joined the lineup, along with the sporty GTS...
The Porsche Cayenne was one of the first in a massive wave of European luxury crossovers and remains one of the more popular. It debuted in 2002, the same year as its platform mate, the Volkswagen Touareg. It was, no doubt, a very controversial vehicle for the German sports car manufacturer, even though it came with powerful engines and drove well for an SUV. Time has vindicated Porsche's decision. The 2014 Porsche Cayenne sells as well as all of the brand's sport cars -- the 911, the Cayman, and the Boxster -- combined. It has also evolved into a better vehicle. The second-generation Cayenne, which debuted in 2011, weighs less and handles better than its predecessor. It's also available as a relatively efficient hybrid (21 mpg, EPA combined) and diesel (23 mpg, EPA combined).
The 2014 Porsche Cayenne competes in the ever more crowded European luxury crossover segment, which includes the Mercedes-Benz ML, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, and the related Audi Q7. The Cayenne aims to be sportier than the typical SUV and largely succeeds. It's one of the lighter vehicles in the segment -- in most trims it weighs well under 5000 pounds. It subsequently handles well, especially when equipped in track-oriented GTS trim. And of course, it's very powerful, starting with a 300-hp V-6 and going all the way up to a twin-turbo, 550-hp V-8.
The 2014 Porsche Cayenne has also become more refined over the years. The interior mirrors that of other new Porsches, with a sweeping center stack and nicely bolstered seats for all passengers (excepting the middle rear, meant for occasional use only). As with any Porsche, one can spend more -- much more -- for additional amenities and performance features, including carbon-ceramic brake rotors, summer-only performance tires, special interior trim (such as carbon fiber), and a premium stereo. One thing you cannot opt for, no matter how much you're willing to pay, is a third row of seats.
In keeping with the times, Porsche offers not one but two variants dedicated to efficiency. The hybrid uses a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with an electric motor and an eight-speed automatic. Unfortunately, all that hardware adds some 400 pounds compared with a V-8 powered Cayenne S. It also suffers from spongy-feeling brakes -- unusual for a Porsche but typical for a hybrid. Better to go with the Cayenne Diesel. It isn't as fast, with only 240 hp (and 406 lb-ft of torque), but it's more efficient, weighs less, and costs less.
- Audi Q7
- BMW X5
- Land Rover Range Rover Sport
- Mercedes-Benz ML-Class