The 2013 Porsche Cayenne is very pricey, but it’s also very desirable given its standing as one of the finest SUVs on the planet.
In China, Porsche is not known as a maker of high-end sports cars. Instead, it is the Cayenne crossover SUV that has buyers from Beijing to Guangzhou sitting on year-long waiting lists just for a chance to bring the most basic model home at a price double that of the American-market version. Size, comfort, opulence and the appeal of a German luxury badge are its primary selling points.
The Porsche Cayenne is one of the most appealing midsize luxury crossovers thanks to its sophisticated engineering, impeccable construction, immense features list and surprisingly useful cabin. True, it doesn’t boast a third-row seat or the massive cargo capacity of larger crossovers, but its sliding, reclining and folding rear seat adds a degree of versatility that other luxury SUVs lack. With the new 2013 Cayenne Diesel model and the carry-over Cayenne S Hybrid, good fuel economy also becomes a strong selling point.
Yet this is the United States, and a Porsche needs to live up to those decades of high-performance expectations. And despite the lamentations of dedicated automotive purists, the Cayenne earns its Porsche crest by being one of the most rewarding and involving SUVs to drive on the highway. Handling is exceptional, and it only gets better as you select certain high-tech chassis-enhancing options or go whole-hog with the new sport-tuned 2013 Cayenne GTS. And although a basic V6 Cayenne might be worth waiting for in China, it’s the 29-mpg Cayenne Diesel, 400-horsepower Cayenne S and 500-hp Cayenne Turbo that draw attention on this side of the Pacific. Indeed, the Turbo is quicker than many sports cars.
Frankly, the 2013 Porsche Cayenne would be an easy choice if it wasn’t for prices that are high even here in America — and as with all Porsches, the prices only get higher when you start sampling from the lengthy list of options. As such, looking around would be a wise decision. The BMW X5, Infiniti FX and Mercedes-Benz M-Class all deliver a similar degree of luxury, practicality, performance and model variety for considerably less money. The Cayenne’s sophisticated engineering and impeccable construction are certainly worth something, but you’re still paying extra for that badge. Yet from Tampa Bay to Beijing, this seems like something that people are more than happy to do.
2013 Porsche Cayenne models
The 2013 Porsche Cayenne is a five-passenger midsize SUV available in six different models that mostly differ by engine.
The base Cayenne, Cayenne S, Cayenne Diesel and Cayenne S Hybrid come standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, front and rear foglamps, rear privacy glass, a power liftgate (with separately opening window), automatic wipers, heated washer nozzles, heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and driver memory functions, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, a 40/20/40 rear seat (slides, reclines, folds), Bluetooth phone connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system with a touchscreen display, CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The S Hybrid also comes with an enhanced speed-sensitive power steering system that is optional on these other trims.
The Cayenne GTS gets the above equipment plus Porsche’s active suspension system with adjustable ride height (known as PASM), a lower ride height to improve highway handling, 20-inch wheels, a different final-drive ratio, upgraded brakes, the enhanced speed-sensitive steering, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, the Turbo’s more aggressive front fascia, the SportDesign exterior body kit package, front and rear GTS-specific sport seats, a sport steering wheel and extensive use of faux suede in the interior. Many of these items are available separately on the lower trims.
Besides its turbocharged engine, the Cayenne Turbo includes a variety of items that are optional on the lower trims. These include 19-inch wheels, PASM, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, 14-way power front sport seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and memory functions, heated front and rear seats, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, a faux-suede headliner, a navigation system and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with satellite radio. Ten-way power “Comfort” front seats with less aggressive bolstering are a no-cost option.
As with any Porsche, the amount of optional equipment available on all Cayenne models is exhaustive. Exterior and mechanical items include different wheels, an active antiroll suspension system (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control), a side-to-side torque-vectoring rear differential (PTV Plus), ceramic composite brakes, skid plates, running boards, roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, a regular sunroof, a heated windshield and noise-insulated privacy glass. Interior comfort and design items include four-zone automatic climate control, power rear side sunshades, ventilated front seats, a Porsche-designed child safety seat, interior ambient light, extended leather interior trim, different leather seat finishes and a nearly endless array of customizable trim pieces capable of being covered in leather or other trim types. Electronic items include a rearview camera (includes front and rear parking sensors), keyless ignition/entry, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system, voice controls, a six-CD changer, a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system and a 16-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system.
Performance & mpg
The base 2013 Porsche Cayenne comes with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. As on every Cayenne, all-wheel drive is standard. A six-speed manual transmission is standard; an eight-speed automatic is optional and includes an automatic stop/start system for reduced fuel consumption. Porsche estimates this engine will bring the Cayenne from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds with the automatic (7.1 for the manual), which would be a little slower than average for a six-cylinder luxury SUV. EPA-estimated fuel economy with the automatic is 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. It drops to 15/22/17 with the manual.
The Cayenne Diesel features a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 diesel that produces 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The eight-speed automatic is standard. Porsche says the diesel Cayenne will hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, which is quick for a diesel engine. EPA-estimated fuel economy is an excellent 19/29/23.
The Cayenne S represents a substantial upgrade, with its 4.8-liter V8 good for 400 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. As with every V8 Cayenne, the eight-speed automatic with auto stop/start is standard. Porsche estimates the S will hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is nearly equal to the V6 at 16/22/18.
The Cayenne S Hybrid features a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 attached to a 34kW electric motor. Combined, this hybrid powertrain produces 380 hp and 427 lb-ft of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy is worse than that of the diesel at 20/24/21, but acceleration is stronger. In Edmunds performance testing, it hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.
The Cayenne GTS gets an upgraded version of the S engine good for 420 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Its 0-60 time is estimated to be the same as the Cayenne S. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 15/21/17.
The Cayenne Turbo gets a turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 good for 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, the Turbo hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, which makes it one of the quickest SUVs on the planet. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15/22/17. The Turbo Powerkit bumps output up to 540 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque.
Regardless of trim, each Cayenne equipped with the eight-speed automatic is rated to tow as much as 7,716 pounds.
The 2013 Porsche Cayenne comes standard with antilock brakes with enhanced brake assist and readiness, stability and traction control, driver knee airbag, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags, parking sensors, a rearview camera and a blind-spot warning system are available.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Cayenne Turbo came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, which is exceptional for any vehicle, especially an SUV. With its regenerative brakes, the Cayenne S Hybrid fared worse with a stop of 120 feet, but that’s still acceptable in this class.
Few luxury SUVs come with such a wide variety of powertrain options. The base V6 delivers merely average acceleration, but it’s not what anyone would describe as pokey. The same could be said of the new Porsche Cayenne Diesel, which tends to feel stronger around town thanks to its torque-rich power delivery. It also achieves very strong fuel economy for a luxury SUV and actually outdoes the more expensive (and admittedly quicker) Cayenne S Hybrid. If you don’t need thrilling straight-line performance, the Diesel is a great choice.
Even on these less performance-oriented Cayennes, highway handling is impressive and the steering deserves special praise for its linearity and precision. Body roll is well controlled and the Cayenne can be hustled along with gusto, helped by a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system that delivers 60 percent of its thrust to the rear wheels under normal conditions. The optional active suspension system provides a supple ride even with the dampers in their most aggressive setting. As a result, the Cayenne is an excellent candidate for long-distance driving and even light off-roading. The optional active stabilizer bar system and torque-vectoring (power-directing) differential make the Cayenne even better on the road.
We’re not going to lie, however; the best way to exploit these dynamic talents is with one of the powerful V8 engines. All by itself, the acceleration of the Cayenne Turbo earns it a place in a very exclusive club. Add the optional power upgrade, racing-bred carbon-ceramic brakes and all the available suspension and drivetrain upgrades, and there are few sports cars (let alone SUVs) that can keep up with the 2013 Porsche Cayenne.
The Cayenne features a sophisticated cockpit-style layout similar to most Porsche sports cars. The center console, adorned with upwards of 50 buttons, rises to meet the dash and large touchscreen display, creating an enveloping driver’s environment. With so many buttons, it can be difficult to quickly find what you’re looking for, but you might argue that this Porsche system is more efficient than the menu-driven systems found in its competitors.
Like other Porsches, the Cayenne features fine interior materials put together with excellent craftsmanship. Handsome wood, alloy trim and leather upholstery further add to the luxurious ambience, plus you can add even more leather and wood along with carbon or faux suede thanks to the exhaustive options list. The front seats are available in three different designs, ranging from simple eight-way power adjustment to the 14-way sport seats, which feature adjustable bolsters, lumbar and seat cushion length. The sculpted rear seats not only recline but also slide fore and aft as well.
The Cayenne has a maximum luggage capacity of 62.9 cubic feet (a figure reduced to 59.7 and 60.2, respectively for the Hybrid and Turbo models). This is on the small side for the Cayenne’s class.