The Porsche Cayenne remains problematic from a brand purist's point of view: it's too big, too mass-market, too similar to other products from the Volkswagen Group (in this sense, it's a harbinger of the future). For the luxury SUV buyer unburdened by such philosophical concerns, however, the Cayenne is a compelling vehicle. With last year's redesign, the Cayenne looks much trimmer--and it is. An aluminum-intensive structure and a revised all-wheel-drive system shave up to 400 pounds from the previous Cayenne, depending on options. There are, of course, lots of options, from four powertrains to $2330 painted air-conditioning vents. The Hybrid achieves 20/23 mpg thanks to the 47-hp electric motor paired with its Audi-sourced 3.0-liter V-6, but it suffers from the dynamic pitfalls typical of this technology, including unnatural-feeling brakes. We hope the Cayenne diesel, headed to our market later this year, will serve up efficiency with fewer compromises. Those who don't really care about fuel efficiency in their German luxury crossover can opt for the 500-hp, 4.8-liter twin-turbo V-8, which makes the Cayenne Turbo feel far more agile than the previous version. The interior, even without those fancy A/C vents, will please even the pickiest luxury customers. The cornucopia of buttons on the center console may confound drivers at first, but they become rather intuitive over time.
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