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#3

in 2010 Luxury Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $31,855 - $64,250
Original MSRP: $45,500 - $126,300
MPG: 14 City / 20 Hwy
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2010 Porsche Cayenne Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2010 Cayenne offers burly engines and surprising agility. What's more, the Cayenne can also fend for itself on rocky terrain.

  • "Cayenne fully lives up to its Porsche heritage. The new GTS mode is a particularly sporting drive thanks to its lower ride height, standard manual transmission and downright bawdy sport exhaust." -- Edmunds
  • "While we expected the Porsche Cayenne to excel in spirited on-road driving, it was the extensive off-road driving we did in the Cayenne that was a revelation to us. Thanks largely to its very sophisticated systems like the optional air suspension system, traction management and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, the Cayenne is a superior off-highway performer, making quick work of imposing grades." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Cayenne GTS is easy to drive, and easy to slip gracefully into three-digit speeds without those little hairs on the back of your neck standing up. Porsche says the GTS will get to 60 mph a couple 10ths quicker than the S model (in the high fives), but that's not why you'll be slobbering all over yourself. It's up in the middle ranges, where second gear starts and third ends. That's where the excitement is. Roll the windows down, and let it go. Claimed top speed is 157 mph." -- Car and Driver
  • "Cayenne GTS' ride is good overall, despite standard 21-inch wheels and high-performance tires. As is typical of adjustable suspensions, the ‘sport' setting proves too firm on all but glass-smooth roads. ‘Comfort' is too soft. ‘Normal' provides the best balance of comfort and control." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2010 Porsche Cayenne is on the heavy side (it weighs between 4,762 and 5,191 pounds), but even its base engine is powerful enough to move it with ease. The base model packs a 3.6-liter 290 horsepower V6, while the Cayenne S gets an even more powerful 4.8-liter 385-hp V8.

From there, the engines get even stronger. The Cayenne GTS features a 4.8-liter 405-hp V8 and the Cayenne Turbo comes with a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter 500-hp V8. The Turbo S comes with the same engine but makes a whopping 550 horsepower. In the Cayenne S, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S, the V8 is paired with a six-speed Tiptronic S transmission, and the base comes standard with a six-speed manual or an optional Tiptronic automatic.

The new BMW X6 M is the only SUV on the market that's more powerful than the Cayenne Turbo S. It's equipped with a 555-horsepower turbocharged V8 and may even offer sportier handling. Though the X6 M starts at $88,900, that's still much less than the Cayenne Turbo S's $126,300 base price.

Not surprisingly, all that power comes at a cost. In fact, the Cayenne's fuel economy ratings are among the worst in their class. The EPA rates the base Cayenne at 14/20 mpg city/highway with either the manual or automatic transmission. Higher trims fare even worse, with the GTS rated at 11/17 mpg city/highway and the Cayenne Turbo rated at 12/19 mpg. For better fuel economy, you'll have to give up raw power. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class, for example, boasts a 16/21 mpg rating and has a similar base price as the Cayenne, but it can't match the Porsche's power levels.

  • "Swift acceleration from nearly any speed is always at hand, even in the V6 models." -- Edmunds
  • "The new Cayenne has smooth power delivery...Even the Cayenne V6 is quick, although its automatic transmission shifts more often than with the V8s to keep the V6 in the right power band for the best performance." -- MSN
  • "On the road, the [Turbo's] engine is smooth; easy driving is manageable-until you put your foot into it and get above 2500 rpm when the twin turbochargers kick in." -- Motor Trend
  • "A manual-transmission GTS is the only Cayenne made available for testing so far. Its muscular V8 delivers smooth, strong acceleration in most any situation. Some testers find shifter/clutch action less than ideal, a good reason, perhaps, to spring for the optional automatic transmission." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Developed at Porsche's R&D center in Weissach, Germany, all the Transsyberia models are fitted with air suspension and Porsche's Active Suspension Management, which adjusts the tuning of the shock absorbers for a variety of terrain. ... And there's plenty of power under the hood, courtesy of a direct-injected 4.5-liter V-8 with 405 bhp." -- Road and Track

Handling and Braking

Although the Cayenne's weight is ever-present in test drivers' minds, most find it's a non-issue with the car's excellent maneuverability. Features like the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) improve the SUV's composure by using active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles to significantly reduce sideways body movement when cornering. Reviewers also say that the Cayenne's brakes are well up to the task of stopping the SUV.

On all Cayenne models, the default chassis setup is "Sport" mode. Drivers also have a choice of comfort-oriented (Normal) or high-performance (Sport) setups, which change the ride feel.

  • "For an SUV, the Cayenne handles exceedingly well, despite its somewhat slow and mostly uncommunicative steering, but there's no compensating for its bulk and height." -- Car and Driver
  • "True, it's over the top, but with Sport selected and the PDCC working overtime, it never once felt unwieldy over the sinuous, soaking-wet roads I was driving. Despite its 5200-lb curb weight, the Cayenne felt unnaturally agile and responsive thanks to the PDCC." -- Road and Track
  • "With all of that weight and power, brakes are important, and Porsche doesn't scrimp on them. The brake calipers and discs are larger than those of competing premium SUVs. The biggest and best brakes are on the Turbo model, and are designed to handle the extra horsepower and torque of that vehicle." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • "As nimble as can be expected of a tall, 5500-lb SUV. Cayenne corners with good grip and balance with direct steering and modest cornering lean. Strong brakes are more than up to any stopping task." -- Consumer Guide

Off-Roading

Although it's unlikely many people would take a Porsche off-road, critics do say the 2010 Cayenne is built to adequately handle rough terrain. All trims come with Porsche Traction Management (PTM) and permanent all-wheel drive. The Cayenne can be driven in up to 19.7 inches of water and has a ground clearance at 8.45 inches.

The PTM system actively distributes pulling power where it is needed most, and the intelligent all-wheel drive has an electronically variable center differential that can be locked for the toughest off-road terrain. Other features include a two-speed transfer gearbox (with low-range gearing for off-road use), an Automatic Brake Differential for better traction, and Anti-Slip Regulation for greater stability under acceleration.

  • "Driving the new Porsche on a rugged off-road portion of a test route during the preview showed it has the 4-wheel-drive grip and ground clearance to tackle very rugged terrain." -- MSN
  • "Off road, the Cayenne is good enough for dirt roading, fire trailing, and slop that's less than a gumbo consistency. It's not a Rubicon runner but, then again, it's not meant to be." -- Car and Driver
  • "While we expected the Porsche Cayenne to excel in spirited on-road driving, it was the extensive off-road driving we did in the Cayenne that was a revelation to us." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Cayenne can also be a capable SUV when it comes to off-road work, but only with the optional off-road package." -- Edmunds

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