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2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Photo © Basem Wasef

The Bottom Line

Think you can't have your cake (utility) and eat it, too (performance)? Think again. The Cayenne Turbo is the top dog in Porsche's SUV lineup, a wild-eyed, 172 mph wolf in sheep's clothing that delivers performance specs most sports cars would kill for—that is, until the inevitable Turbo S variant comes around.
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Pros

  • 500 horsepower, 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Any questions?
  • Interior manages to convey both luxury and utility.
  • Surefooted handling inspires confidence, belies bulk.

Cons

  • $107,000 starting MSRP is a bit rich for our tastes, not to mention the as-tested price of $115,470.
  • BMW's X5 M offers stiff competition for $20,000 less.
  • Incredible acceleration makes claimed 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway figures attainable only to saints.

Description

  • Price: $104,800 (base), $115,470 (as tested)
  • Direct injected, 4.8 liter V8 with twin turbochargers and twin intercoolers
  • Output: 500 horsepower, 516 lb-ft of torque
  • 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, with auto start/stop
  • Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway
  • Front Brakes: 15.4 inch rotors, 6 piston calipers; Rear Brakes: 14.1 inch rotors, 4 piston calipers
  • Test options include light comfort package ($250), trailer couple ($650), ski bag ($450), front ventilated seats ($800), Burmester sound system ($3,990), 21" Sport Edition Wheels ($3,315) and Porsche crest front headrests ($285)
  • Curb weight: 4,784 lbs
  • Performance: 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, 172 mph top speed
  • 4-year/50,000-mile warranty

Guide Review - 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Settle into the cockpit of most SUVs, and you get a general idea of what to expect based on your surroundings: the BMW X5's purposeful trim reflects its sporty ride, the Cadillac Escalade's glossy wood and top-stitched leather match its cushy, quiet manners, and the Volvo XC90's buttoned-down design mirrors its safety-oriented persona.

How about the Porsche Cayenne Turbo? Well, you might detect a hint of its personality from its hunkered down stance and sporty, Panamera-derived center console. The buttery soft Alcantara headliner and copious leather might also betray its six-figure pricepoint. But nothing prepares you for how the twin-turbocharged 4.8 liter V8 presses shoves you into your seat; this kind of fierceness is rarely found in an SUV—but then again, what would you expect from Porsche's flagship sport ute?

The ridiculous thrust is enabled by no fewer than 500 ponies under hood, 516 lb-ft of torque that become available as early as 2,250 rpm, and a flexible 8-speed Tiptronic transmission that always manages to find the right cog. It doesn't hurt that the Cayenne Turbo has shed hundreds of pounds thanks to various weight savings, including new aluminum bodywork. Aiding the efficiency effort is the same start/stop system found in the Cayenne S Hybrid, which shuts the engine down at stoplights. But if you like to hear the turbocharged V8's rumble and don't mind burning a few extra ounces of fuel, there's a button to defeat the function. Start/stop can also be killed by tapping the "Sport" button, which makes the Cayenne Turbo's throttle response and acceleration even more aggressive, while dropping the air suspension down a notch, resulting in a stiffer but more responsive ride.

My tester rode on massive 21-inch Sport Edition wheels ($3,315), and was also equipped with a 16-speaker Burmester sound system ($3,990) and front seat ventilation ($800), among other gewgaws. Surprisingly, despite its $115,470 sticker price, this particular test car didn't include a rear entertainment system ($2,990), adaptive cruise control ($2,490), or even a rear backup camera ($655); you'll have to settle for a parking sensor that uses a pictogram to depict your surroundings, not exactly the most reassuring way to maneuver your pricey sled through tight spaces. And though my borrowed Cayenne Turbo clawed its way into pavement with astounding grip and surprisingly little body roll, if you want even better handling you'll want to opt for Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control ($3,510) to add active anti-roll technology, and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus ($1,490) which helps steer through turns by apportioning torque individually to the rear wheels. Heck, a Power Kit with an extra 40 hp and 37 lb-ft of torque can even be had for a $19,290 premium.

Can we forgive the Cayenne Turbo for its pricey excess? After spending a week in its comfy cockpit, grooving to the stellar Burmester sound system, and blowing away all manner of overzealous sports car drivers, the answer is a conditional yes—that is, as long as you have the means to reward yourself with one of these babies. At the end of the day—despite its premium price—the Cayenne Turbo is a stunning answer to critics who thought that Porsche's foray into the world of SUVs couldn't combine utility with neck snapping performance.

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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