If there's one thing the 2014 Porsche Cayenne needed, it was more power; after all, the best last year's Cayenne could do was 500 hp in Turbo guise. Clearly, we jest. On the list of thoughts you're likely to have behind the wheel of a Cayenne Turbo, "needs more power" ranks well behind "Whose deranged idea was this frightening machine?" But Porsche had to do something, so what the hey, why not give the Turbo a 10 percent horsepower boost and call this new creation the Cayenne Turbo S?
So it was that the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S became the big news for 2014, effectively replacing last year's optional "power kit" for the Turbo. In addition to its 550-hp V8, the Turbo S builds on the Turbo's standard air suspension and electronically adjustable dampers (PASM in Porsche-speak) by adding active antiroll technology (which Porsche calls Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control or PDCC) and side-to-side torque-vectoring with an electronically controlled rear differential lock (PTV Plus). That's all pretty neat, but to be honest, you can get the same basic setup on the regular Turbo by tacking on PDCC and PTV Plus as options. In other words, the Turbo S is mainly about extracting a little more power from the Turbo's engine, along with a little more green from your wallet.
This year also brings the Platinum Edition trims as stylish upgrades to the base Cayenne and Cayenne Turbo. Otherwise, the 2014 Porsche Cayenne is essentially unchanged from the previous year, and that's just fine by us. It's still one of the best-driving luxury SUVs on the block, and there's an incredible variety of engines to choose from, including an efficient turbodiesel V6 and a few different versions of Porsche's stellar 4.8-liter V8. You can even get a quirky hybrid variant that boasts 380 horses of its own. Off-road ability is diminished relative to the original Cayenne, but this second-generation model is considerably lighter, so it provides a better real-world mix of agility and all-weather traction. Its interior is a home run, too, ranking with the best in terms of materials quality, style and attention to detail.
The world may not have needed a more powerful Cayenne, but Porsche's high rider continues to be a beacon in the sea of luxury crossovers. As can be seen in the 2014 Porsche Cayenne's ratings, it is strong in nearly every area. Of course, you might also want to take a look at rivals such as the BMW X5 and X5 M, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the Land Rover Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which have strong engines and elegant interiors of their own. But if you're looking for the most dynamic vehicle in this segment, the 2014 Porsche Cayenne is a fine choice.
The 2014 Porsche Cayenne is a five-passenger midsize SUV available in nine trim levels: base Cayenne, Cayenne Platinum Edition, Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne Diesel Platinum Edition, Cayenne S, Cayenne S Hybrid, Cayenne GTS, Cayenne Turbo and Cayenne Turbo S. They mostly differ by engine.
The base Cayenne, Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne S and Cayenne S Hybrid come standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, front and rear foglamps, rear privacy glass, a power liftgate (with separately opening window), automatic wipers, heated washer nozzles, heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats with optional driver memory functions, leather upholstery, a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat that slides and reclines, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system with a 7-inch touchscreen display (an 11-speaker system with iPod/USB connectivity is available at extra cost). The S Hybrid also comes with an enhanced speed-sensitive power steering system that's optional on other Cayennes.
The Platinum Editions of the base Cayenne and Cayenne Diesel feature Platinum Silver exterior accents, 19-inch wheels, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, a sport steering wheel, heated front seats, a navigation system, driver memory settings and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system (with satellite radio and a six-CD changer).
To the base Cayenne, the Cayenne GTS adds Porsche's active air suspension system with adjustable ride height (known as PASM), a lower stance overall, 20-inch wheels, a different final-drive ratio, upgraded brakes, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, the Turbo's more aggressive front fascia, the SportDesign exterior body kit package, GTS-specific sport front seats, a sport steering wheel and extensive use of faux suede in the interior.
Besides its turbocharged engine, the Cayenne Turbo includes 19-inch wheels, PASM, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, 14-way adjustable front sport seats with driver and passenger memory functions, a power-adjustable steering column, heated front and rear seats, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, a faux-suede headliner, a navigation system and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with satellite radio. You can get 10-way adjustable front seats with less aggressive lateral bolstering as a no-cost option.
The Turbo S adds even more power, 21-inch "911 Turbo II" wheels, high-gloss black exterior trim, uniquely styled exhaust tips, the Sport Chrono package with a dash-mounted timer and exclusive two-tone interior designs. It also features standard handling upgrades in the form of an active antiroll suspension system (PDCC) and a side-to-side torque-vectoring rear differential (PTV Plus).
Note that many of the higher trims' standard features are optional on lesser models.
As with any Porsche, there are enough options to just about double your Cayenne's base price if you check off enough of them. Exterior and mechanical items include different wheels (ranging from 18-21 inches in diameter), ceramic composite brakes, skid plates, off-road underbody protection, running boards, roof rails, a sunroof (regular or panoramic), a heated windshield and noise-insulated privacy glass. Interior comfort and design items include four-zone automatic climate control, power rear side sunshades, ventilated front seats and a seemingly endless array of customizable interior bits (leather-trimmed air vent slats, anyone?). Available electronics include a rearview camera with parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system, voice-command functionality, a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system and a 16-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system.
The Cayenne features the sophisticated cockpit-style layout for which contemporary Porsches are known. The center console, adorned with upward of 50 buttons, rises to meet the dash and its large touchscreen display, creating an enveloping driver's environment. With so many buttons, it can be difficult to find what you're looking for at first, but the touchscreen menus are straightforward and the system is quick to process inputs. Overall, it's a solid system and not any more difficult to use than the dial/knob-based systems in rival luxury SUVs.
Like other Porsches, the Cayenne features high-end interior materials and excellent build quality. Handsome wood inserts, alloy trim and leather upholstery create a luxurious ambience, and you can add even more leather and wood if you like, not to mention carbon fiber and/or faux suede embellishments. The front seats are available in three designs, ranging from simple eight-way power adjustment to 14-way sport seats with adjustable bolsters, lumbar and seat-cushion length. The sculpted rear seats not only recline, but also slide fore and aft.
The Cayenne has a maximum luggage capacity of 62.9 cubic feet, a figure reduced to 59.7 and 60.2 for the Hybrid and Turbo models, respectively. This is on the small side for the Cayenne's class.
All-wheel drive is standard on every Cayenne, but there are two types: The Cayenne Diesel and Cayenne S Hybrid feature a permanent AWD system with a self-locking center differential, while the other models come with an active AWD system that offers variable torque distribution and multiple off-road modes.
The base 2014 Porsche Cayenne is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. Optional (but standard on the Platinum Edition) is Porsche's eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, which includes an automatic stop-start system for reduced fuel consumption. Porsche estimates this engine will bring the Cayenne from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds with the automatic (7.1 with the manual), a rather leisurely performance for a luxury SUV. EPA-estimated fuel economy with the automatic is a lackluster 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway), dropping to 17 combined with the manual.
The Cayenne Diesel features a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 diesel that produces 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. As with every Cayenne other than the base version, the eight-speed automatic is standard. Porsche says the diesel Cayenne will hit 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is a laudable 23 mpg combined (19 city/29 highway).
The Cayenne S represents a substantial upgrade, with its 4.8-liter V8 good for 400 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Porsche estimates the S will hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy nearly equals that of the V6 at 18 mpg combined (16/22).
The Cayenne S Hybrid features a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 attached to a 34kW electric motor. Combined, this hybrid powertrain produces 380 hp and 427 lb-ft of torque. EPA-estimated mpg, at 21 mpg combined (20/24), is lower than that of the Cayenne Diesel, but acceleration is stronger: In Edmunds performance testing, the Cayenne S Hybrid hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.
The Cayenne GTS gets an upgraded version of the S engine good for 420 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Its 0-60 time is pegged by Porsche at 5.4 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 17 mpg combined (15/21).
The Cayenne Turbo gets a turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 good for 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, the Turbo hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. EPA estimated fuel economy is also 17 mpg combined (15/22).
The range-topping Turbo S squeezes 550 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque out of that turbocharged V8. Porsche estimates a 0-60 sprint of 4.3 seconds, while the EPA estimates fuel economy of 16 mpg combined (14/20).
Regardless of trim, each Cayenne with the eight-speed automatic is rated to tow up to 7,716 pounds when properly equipped.
Few luxury SUVs come with such a wide variety of powertrain options. The base V6 delivers merely average acceleration, but the turbodiesel V6 adds a satisfying slab of low-end torque, while the Cayenne S Hybrid is downright quick off the line. Still, the Cayenne feels best with one of the four available V8s under the hood. They're all based on the same 4.8-liter configuration, but their characters differ dramatically -- the S version is relatively smooth and quiet, while the GTS channels Porsche's racing heritage. The two Turbo variants are just plumb crazy.
Even on less performance-oriented Porsche Cayennes, handling is impressive by crossover standards. The steering deserves special praise for its precision and sporty feel. In addition, the Cayenne maintains a high level of composure when you're going around turns at speed (all the more so with PDCC aboard) and can generally be driven like a sport sedan whenever the mood strikes. The rear-biased AWD system helps out here, as it delivers 60 percent of engine power to the rear wheels under normal conditions.
In spite of the priority given to athletic handling, the ride is remarkably supple, making the 2014 Porsche Cayenne an excellent candidate for long-distance trips and even light-duty off-roading. One of our few complaints about Porsche's SUV is the Cayenne S Hybrid's regenerative braking system, which although effective, makes it difficult to bring the vehicle to a stop smoothly in city traffic.
The 2014 Porsche Cayenne comes standard with antilock brakes with enhanced brake assist and readiness, stability and traction control, a driver knee airbag, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags, parking sensors, a rearview camera and a blind-spot warning system are available.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Cayenne Turbo came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, while the Cayenne Diesel stopped in 109 feet. These are exceptional braking distances for an SUV. With its regenerative braking system, the Cayenne S Hybrid fared worse with a stop of 120 feet, but that's still acceptable in this class.
The Porsche Cayenne family welcomes the 550-horsepower Turbo S and Platinum Edition variants into the fold for 2014.