2005 Porsche Cayenne
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Cayenne sport-utility vehicle takes about half of Porsche sales in America, although this illustrious German automaker was selling only sports cars here since 1950 until the Cayenne arrived as a 2003 model.
Blame truck-crazy America for such a seemingly peculiar Porsche car-truck sales mix, although Porsche sports car sales may pick up now that Porsche has introduced its revamped 911 and Boxster models for 2005.
The Cayenne sport ute is the first 4-door Porsche model of any type. To hold down costs, small Porsche developed the Cayenne with giant Volkswagen, which sells a more subdued version called the Touareg.
There's nothing really new here, because the 1970-76 Porsche 914 sports car was developed with Volkswagen and had a 4-cylinder Volkswagen engine. It was marketed in Europe as a "Volkswagen-Porsche," although sold only as a Porsche in America.
Sport Utility Needed
Porsche needed profits from a sport utility to protect its status as the world's only small, profitable independent automaker of note and to develop more competitive race cars. Porsche even withdrew from top-level sports car racing to transfer resources to develop the Cayenne.
The all-wheel-drive Cayenne is a midsize sport utility that's a few inches wider and longer than a BMW X5 sport ute. Most owners keep it on roads, but it has good off-road abilities.
Both V8 versions come only with Porsche's 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, which has a manual-shift feature and raises the price of the V6 version to $44,100.
Both Cayenne V8 versions are considerably faster, but often have a ragged, nonlinear power delivery—especially the one with the twin-turbocharged V8.
The V6 is only a little temperamental when cold and provides a linear power delivery when warm—despite a somewhat rough automatic transmission developed for maximum efficiency rather than Lexus-like smoothness.
The Cayenne V6 does 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds from a standing start with the manual and in 9.1 seconds with the automatic, and is an easy 85 mph cruiser with either transmission. (The S hits 60 in 6.8 seconds, while the Cayenne Turbo takes 5.2 seconds.)
The new 6-speed manual gearbox for the V6 would be fine for a Porsche sports car, but seems out of place in the fairly big, luxurious Cayenne. The Cayenne is about 67 inches high, 188 inches long and weighs 4,762 to 5,840 pounds.
The scale-bending weights don't allow any Cayenne to be easy with fuel. The V6 provides an estimated 15 mpg in the city and 19-20 on the highway. The S provides 14 and 18 and the Turbo delivers 13 and 18. At least all trim levels have a 26.4-gallon fuel tank.
There also are new body colored front-rear aprons and side door sills, Homelink garage door opener and such options as satellite radio and SportDesign and Light Comfort option packages.
All Cayennes are so well equipped with comfort, convenience and safety items that they need few, if any, options. That's good because extras can cause the Cayenne base prices to rapidly escalate.
Roomy Upscale Interior
The spacious cargo area has a low, wide opening, and cargo capacity can be significantly expanded by folding the rear seatbacks forward. There's no third-row seat, but that item would be out of place in such a sporty vehicle, anyway.
The front bucket seats provide good support, but the 911-style gauges are too spread out for a quick read of all of them. Audio system controls are small. Climate controls are large, but are seemingly designed more for style than function. Porsche's traditional, awkward placement of the ignition switch to the left of the steering column is retained.
It's nice to know that the lowest-priced Cayenne with the V6 is the most pleasant version, although many Porsche fans will want the faster acceleration provided by the V8s.