They told us it was coming and now it’s here. Porsche pulled the curtain back on the third-generation of its Porsche Cayenne SUV Tuesday and, yeah, it looks a whole lot like the current Cayenne. Look closer, however, and you’ll see that it’s all new, inside and out.
In Porsche-speak, “the new Cayenne retains a strong visual connection to its predecessors.” That means that it essentially looks the same as before, which is fine and to be expected from a brand with such a strong and deeply established design language. So, if you liked the look of the gen-two Cayenne, you’ll probably like this one.
Perhaps even more so. The new Cayenne retains the same wheelbase as the outgoing model, but manages to squeeze 15-percent more cargo capacity behind its rear seats without compromising the silhouette.
The new model also makes more extensive use of LEDs for illumination and its exterior design. Lighting is so important that Porsche will offer two tiers of upgrades over the standard headlamps: a Porsche Dynamic Light System (PLDS) or LED Matrix Beam headlights with PDLS.
Two new engines
It’s a Porsche, so performance should be important to the new Cayenne. Beneath its familiar hood, drivers will find one of two turbocharged V6 engines. The standard mill is a 3.0-liter, single-turbo V6 making 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Cayenne S buyers step up to a 2.9-liters, twin-turbo V6 that bumps the output to 440 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.
At its fastest with its optional Sport Chrono performance upgrade package, the Cayenne S will sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds before crossing the quarter-mile mark in 13.2 ticks. Top speed is stated at 164 mph.
What won’t know until closer to launch is how fuel efficient these engines will be. We also don’t have a timeline for when the inevitable, but unannounced, E-Hybrid, Turbo and Turbo S E-Hybrid models may join the line-up. A similar timeline to the Panamera’s rollout makes sense, so I’m guessing we’ll hear more over the next year.
S or no S, Sport Chrono or not, a new eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission is standard across the Cayenne line. It’s mated with the also standard Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive system with five traction mode settings including four for “mild off-road terrain.”
With its staggered wheel sizes — where the rears are wider than the front — it’s clear, however, that the Cayenne is built primarily for on-road performance. To this end, the SUV shares a lot of the new handling and agility tricks with the recently debuted Panamera sport sedan, including active suspension damping, optional 3-chamber air suspension, active stabilizer bars and rear axle steering. That last bit can adjust the rear wheels’ angle of attack in concert or in contrast to the front wheels to boost stability at high speeds and maneuverability at low speeds, respectively.
The SUV also makes “intensive use of aluminum” to reduce weight when compared to the previous generation. Up to 143 pounds of weight, specifically, part of which comes from a new lithium-polymer starter battery that saves 22 pounds over the old power cell. Less weight usually means better handling, braking and acceleration, so we’re happy to hear this.
The standard brakes can still be upgraded to the exotic Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes, but the third-generation Cayenne will also be the first model to offer a new mid-tier Porsche Surface Coated Brakes upgrade option. The Surface Coated stoppers are cast-iron discs treated with a tungsten-carbide coating. Porsche claims this treatment increases friction (which makes the brakes work better) while also reducing wear and brake dust (which, presumably, makes them last longer and look better).
The “look better” bit is enhanced with white painted calipers — an aesthetic you can only really pull off if Porsche’s claim of reduced brake dust is a true one.
Beneath the skin, much of the new Cayenne’s underpinnings are shared with the new Panamera. So, it’s no surprise to see the SUV also shares its technology and software with the sedan.
In the dashboard is the newest version of the Porsche Communication Management infotainment. Here, it’s rocking a 12.3-inch full-HD touchscreen with a glossy black interface and software that can be customized, saving up to six individual profiles that affect the interface’s layout and organization, as well as cabin comfort, driving mode, driver aid tech and audio system preferences.
Below the main screen is the same bank of black glass-look capacitive buttons that control various vehicle systems.
The list of driver aid upgrades is impressive and thoroughly modern, including optional thermal night vision, lane change assist, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, InnoDrive adaptive cruise with traffic jam assist and much more.
A tech feature unique to the Cayenne is the new Off-road Precision App. Part of a Connect Plus system upgrade, this app allows off-road drive data and video to be saved and played back later to help the driver “improve her or his own skills.” Something tells me the average Cayenne driver is more concerned with Interstate and parking garage skills, but the app at least sounds interesting.
The 2019 Cayenne will launch with a base price of $65,700. Cayenne S models start at $82,900. Factor in an additional $1,050 destination charge before you get into what will certainly be a pricey plethora of available options and upgrades. You’ve got until mid-2018 to get your wallet ready.