We could debate the merits of 500-hp SUVs for days, but the fact is that the Cayenne is Porsche’s best-selling model by a large margin, and the U.S. market swallows up nearly one in three Cayennes built. That does not, however, mean that every American will adore all versions of the SUV: the sand yellow paint on this Porsche Cayenne Turbo was met with almost universal disgust by friends, family, and even complete strangers. Save $3140 and pick a different color.
The Porsche Cayenne is truly an indulgent vehicle, especially when optioned up to nearly $150,000 like this example. The interior materials are beyond reproach, from the metal buttons and shift toggles to the leather seats, and the interior feels just as lavish as that in a Range Rover. The best part is how the Porsche badge draws stares wherever you go — even if people don’t like the yellow-on-black scheme, they still think a Porsche is cool.
As wonderful as it may be on the surface, however, I don’t find the Cayenne Turbo particularly thrilling to drive. The twin turbochargers muffle any exhaust noise, leaving you with a dull whoosh as the Cayenne accelerates. Moreover, the Cayenne has so much power and torque that you can only accelerate hard for incredibly brief bursts lest you reach illegal or insane speeds. There is no sense of speed or drama in driving a Cayenne Turbo aggressively on public roads. Rather, it’s an exercise in restraint.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
It’s not every day that a $150k Porsche serves as moving-duty workhorse, but that’s exactly what happened with this Cayenne Turbo. I signed out the big yellow SUV so that I could haul two sizable bookshelves, and I then handed off the keys to senior editor Eric Tingwall, whom I helped load a very large table into the sporty ute. When hauling items such as those, the driver must exhibit an incredible amount of restraint (sound familiar?) with the 500-hp, twin-turbo V-8. It’s much more suitable to drive the Cayenne with every piece of luggage very tightly fastened (or, better yet, left at home) so the driver can use all that torque. There’s an ever-so-slight hesitation as the car’s 4800 pounds get rolling, but after that pause, it’s all about surge. Speaking of surge, Porsche says this truck has an awesome 7700-pound towing capacity. How fun would it be to drag around a fancy new Airstream with a bright yellow, turbo Porsche on black twenty-one-inch wheels?
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Unlike Jake Holmes, I absolutely love the sand yellow paint. Then again, I’ve been wearing a pair of yellow jeans this summer, so you can tell I’m not afraid of color. I grow so weary of German cars all being painted in silver, gray, and black. Hey, if you’re gonna drive a flashy, $150K Porsche, why not have it look flashy?
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
There was never a question if Porsche could build an SUV, only a question of if it should. While the latter debate may never be settled, the second-generation Cayenne is proof that the engineers at Weissach can master vehicle dynamics whether they’re working on a mid-engine roadster or a full-size utility vehicle. The Cayenne is as close as it comes to making something large, tall, and heavy behave like something small, low, and light.
Of course there’s no confusing a Cayenne for a Cayman, but the Porsche crossover does accelerate, brake, and handle better than any other competitor, especially when you’re talking about the $150,000 Turbo model with almost every option thrown in. The direct steering, effortless thrust, and strict body control have a way of warping your sensibilities to the point that you’ll believe a performance-focused truck isn’t just rational, it’s natural.
As good as the Cayenne is, it’s not completely without fault. The eight-speed automatic occasionally balks at low speeds with light throttle application and if you care about ride quality, interior space, or value when purchasing a six-figure, luxury-performance truck, there are better options.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
MSRP (with destination): $108,075
PRICE AS TESTED: $149,055
4.8-liter DOHC twin-turbocharged V-8
Horsepower: 500 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm
WHEELS AND TIRES:
21-inch aluminum wheels
295/35YR-21 Michelin Latitude tires
FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
Cargo (rear seats up/down):TBD/60.2 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 67.1/TBD in
Headroom (front/rear): 39.5/TBD in
Towing: 7716 lb
Twin-turbochargers w/independent intercoolers
Variable valve timing
Porsche Traction Management
Active all-wheel drive
Fully independent air suspension
6-piston front brake calipers, 4-piston rear brake calipers
19-in aluminum wheels w/collapsible spare
Heated steering wheel
Power tilt-and-telescopic steering column
18-way power adjustable adaptive sport front seats
Bose surround sound audio system
Power sunroof and liftgate
SiriusXM satellite radio w/trial subscription
Power-folding and heated exterior mirrors
OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
Painted car key- $335
Sand Yellow exterior paint- $3140
Ceramic composite braking package- $8840
Premium Package Plus- $5320
Four-zone climate control
Lane Change Assist
Adaptive cruise control
Keyless entry and ignition
Power rear sunshade
Ventilated front seats
Burmester surround sound audio system- $3990
Rear seat entertainment- $2990
Gloss black exterior package- $150
Thermal- and noise-insulated privacy glass- $1120
Heated windshield- $490
Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control- $3510
Trailer coupler- $650
20-inch collapsible spare wheel- $240
Torque Vectoring Plus- $1490
Panorama sunroof- $660
Stainless steel door sill guards- $1100
21-inch aluminum wheels- $4555
Extended exterior package paint- $2400
KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Running boards- $1150
Voice control- $595
Underbody protection- $1330
Dual twin-tube exhaust pipes- $1150
While PDCC and PVT Plus cost a combined $5000 on this tester, Porsche offers a Sport package with PDCC, PVT Plus, and a three-spoke sport steering wheel w/shift paddles for $3500.