Porsche made ripples in the automotive collective when they introduced a sport utility vehicle in 2003. It was widely berated ahead of launch by member of the auto press. Porsche soon got the last laugh, as the Cayenne has gone on to be a strong selling model in the already strong selling lineup. There was something undeniably appealing to buyers about a vehicle that could drive like a Porsche and then go off road and hold its own crossing creek beds.

For this model year, the second generation Cayenne makes its appearance. This improves almost all aspects of the big Porsche, being lighter, more powerful, and with more interior room than its predecessor. It also manages to give a much smaller, sportier look with its updated styling.

Engine choices for the Cayenne start with the 290 HP 3.6 liter V-6. From there, there, the Cayenne S ups the ante to 385 Hp with its V-8 engine. The GTS improves that to 405HP and adds a 6 speed automatic and 21″ wheels. The Cayenne Turbo brings the V-8 Hp up to 500 and the ultimate Cayenne is the Turbo S, making 550 HP.

Bodystyle: SUV
Engines: 3.6L V-6, 4.8L V-8, 4.8L twin-turbo V-8, 3.0L supercharged V-6 plus electric motor
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic
Models: Cayenne, Cayenne S, Cayenne S Hybrid, Cayenne Turbo

Pretty much everything has been revised. The 2011 Cayenne is lower in height, about 400 pounds lighter, structurally stiffer, more fuel-efficient, boasts a revamped cabin (looking very much like that of the Panamera), and sports a new, optional 8-speed automatic transmission. Green-friendly features include Automatic Start Stop (which shuts off the engine when the vehicle stops) and the new S Hybrid model.

Smoothly reshaped sheetmetal makes the Cayenne racier than ever. Porsche’s SUV looks meaner in part due to a new power dome on the hood and broader, more muscular rear shoulders. The Turbo wears a particularly aggressive grille.

Think “Panamera.” And that’s a very good thing. Like the cockpit in Porsche’s new four-door sedan, the 2011 Cayenne serves up a luscious combo of leather, aluminum trim, plus a suite of standard and optional electronic conveniences.

As noted above, the new Cayenne is truly a purebred Porsche. Fling it into a corner, and you could easily forget you’re driving an SUV — yes, it’s that much like a sports car. The base six-cylinder model offers a fairly tame 300 horsepower, but the V-8 S model romps with 400 horses and the Turbo blazes the landscape with 500 horsepower.

All models include a standard tire-pressure monitoring system (including electric compressor), all-wheel drive, a driver’s knee air bag, front-side air bags, and side curtain bags for both rows. Rear-side air bags are optional.

Cayenne: N/A
Cayenne S: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway
Cayenne Turbo: 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway
Cayenne Hybrid: N/A

  • Sports-car-worthy handling
  • Gorgeous cockpit
  • Remarkable off-road prowess
  • Owning a machine that does it all
  • Price tag after adding options
  • V-6 performance pretty anemic
  • Getting brush scratches in your metallic paint

Make demands. It’ll answer them.

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