More Than Skin Deep

Porsche’s Cayenne is all-new where it counts.
After a morning of copious notes from the Cayenne product presentation, followed with a full day of driving through Napa and Mendocino counties, I had just one question about Porsche’s brand-new Cayenne. Why didn’t the exterior, especially up front, look newer than past models? Later when a Porsche executive asked what I thought of the company’s newest effort, I had my burning question all queued up.
The Power of Tradition

The urge to change a vehicle’s styling is powerful. After all, if you’ve made most every part new, including body panels, why not make it look different? The executive reminded me of the 911 Carrera, the iconic sportscar that had just been unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s also brand new, but no one will be puzzled about what make and model this is when they confront it on the show stand or highway.

For buyers who want their vehicles to look entirely different than the previous models, there are plenty of makes to choose from. And some well-known brands offer models that possess dramatically different driving characteristics along with little family resemblance. But Porsche stays steadfastly true to its sportscar heritage and has built the world’s strongest luxury brand. Owners may not get a keen new grille every few years, but they do get top resale value.

Inside Story

While there’s little drama outside, it’s inside where drivers spend quality time and that’s where the new Cayenne really delivers. The new cabin layout is driver focused, comfortable and very contemporary. The instruments display in analog style, but possess new digital technology so that important data is instantly in view. A new 12.3-inch high resolution display can be owner configured with widgets and Apple Car Play is easily integrated into the system.

The center console sweeps up for easy driver access to new switchgear that’s remarkably intuitive and frequently used controls populate the steering wheel. All touch surfaces are leather upholstered and for sonic amusement, both a 14-speaker Bose system and a Burmester surround with 21-speakers are options over the Cayenne’s 10-speaker setup.

Lighter and Surefooted

In ordinary circumstances, adding a long list of luxury amenities to any new vehicle would add weight and subtract from sporting fun. But Porsche engineers not only met the challenge, they removed nearly 300-pounds through the strategic use of aluminum and a new lithium ion battery system. The result is crisp handling and for those who venture off the pavement, more off-road confidence.

A new three-chamber air suspension system is a worthwhile feature to add for every type of driving and light towing and the new rear axle steering, that works magic at either high speed or rock crawling is another to add to the list. Whatever Cayenne you choose, there’s not really a base model. You simply choose up to Cayenne S, Hybrid or Turbo for the best Porsche to meet your needs.

THE FINE PRINT

2019 Porsche Cayenne

TYPE:  Front-engine, all-wheel-drive

ENGINE:  2.9-liter Turbo V6

HORSEPOWER:  434 @ 5,700-RPM

TORQUE:  406 lb.ft. @ 1,800-4,500-RPM

BASE PRICE: $66,750

TURBO PRICE:  $125,650

FUEL CONSUMPTION:  18-city, 24-highway, 20-combined

Brian Douglas