The Cayenne has been on the market for only two years, but Porsche
isn’t resting on its laurels. After launching a new hybrid variant last year, the 2021 model year celebrates the arrival of the GTS. This performance-oriented model sits mid-pack in the lineup, with a configuration that should please driving enthusiasts – powerful engine, capable suspension, and big tires. While the new GTS doesn’t have the raw power of the Turbo models, it more than makes up for the deficit with athleticism.
The Cayenne is all about performance, but the Porsche crossover isn’t alone in this category. Companies such as Audi, BMW
Mercedes, Jaguar, and Land Rover offer performance-tuned crossovers that are very competent. What sets the Cayenne apart is its focused engineering and tuning – Porsche has a long history of racing and that winning DNA is found in all the Cayenne models. Porsche Cayenne is truly in a league of its own.
2021 Porsche Cayenne pricing
Porsche Cayenne pricing for 2021:
Cayenne E-Hybrid: $81,800
Cayenne S: $85,100
Cayenne GTS: $107,300
Cayenne Turbo: $127,800
Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid:$163,200
The destination fee on all these 2021 Porsche Cayenne models is $1,350. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are currently paying for their Porsche Cayenne. Expect the Cayenne to have better resale than the BMW X5, Audi SQ5, and Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
Which model is right for me?
2021 Porsche Cayenne
4D Chassis Control
8-way-power driver’s seat
2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS
453-horsepower turbocharged V8
Standard Sport Exhaust
Sport Design exterior package
21-inch RS Spyder wheels
2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
455-horsepower hybrid powertrain
Hybrid gauge cluster
Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM)
Sport Chrono Package
2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Adaptive LED headlights
14-speaker Bose audio
Heated front & rear seats
2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid
Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control
Power-adjustable steering column
Heated steering wheel
Driving the 2021 Porsche Cayenne
Porsche’s Cayenne for 2021 may be an SUV, but its lower center-of-gravity engine and lightweight aluminum construction make it ride and handle like a lithe sports car. Acceleration and passing power are never in short supply.
The new-for-2021 GTS model gets a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 (replacing its predecessor’s turbocharged V6) that delivers abundant acceleration through 6-digit speeds with a vocal exhaust note. Fitted with a suite of performance upgrades, it delivers exhilarating sports car performance in the chassis of a roomy crossover SUV.
The standard steel-spring suspension in most Cayenne models delivers a firm, sometimes jerky ride, but you can enhance it with the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) system adding dual-mode shocks that adapt to changing road conditions. One step more advanced is the optional air suspension that helps iron out rough-riding characteristics without sacrificing cornering ability. The air suspension includes five different ride heights, lower for improved handling or higher for off-road adventures, and, yes, the Cayenne can be a very capable off-road SUV.
The Cayenne’s standard multi-piston brakes are powerful and effective, but for those who demand even more performance, Porsche offers two upgrades. The first is a massive 16.3-inch tungsten-carbide rotor gripped by a 10-piston caliper. White calipers identify these Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB) – they deliver increased heat resistance and significantly reduced brake dust. For maximum stopping power, buyers can opt for a set of Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) that are identified by yellow calipers — these are nearly impervious to overheating.
Additional performance enhancements include the Sport Chrono package ($1,130) that includes launch control and Sport+ mode, and rear-axle steering for faster turn-in and emergency-input response.
One quick glance and it’s easy to see the Panamera’s influence on the 2021 Porsche Cayenne’s stunning interior. An analog center tachometer sits between two 7-inch digital gauges, mixing the modern with a touch of tradition. A 12.3-inch touch screen resides atop the center dash, its sleek black face matching a similar design around the shift lever housing both haptic-feedback controls and hard buttons. It’s a dynamic look, but the glossy black surface quickly shows dust and fingerprints – it’s a frustration.
The seats are amazingly supportive, handsomely designed, and available with heating, cooling, and up to 18 different power adjustments. The 2019 redesign saw the cargo area increase in size and more rear-seat legroom added. The standard-equipment list isn’t as robust as one might expect at this price level, so adding options can get expensive.
Although it retains a similar appearance to the original, this 3rd-generation Cayenne has a cleaner look, with more pronounced body creases and a lower stance. Staggered front and rear tire widths on the standard 19-inch wheels further enhance the Cayenne’s aggressive stance.
Compared to the previous-generation model, the Cayenne’s wheelbase remains unchanged, although its body is nearly three inches longer. Climbing the line brings larger wheels and tires (up to 22 inches) as well as ground effects, front-end treatment, and colors.
The new-for-2021 GTS model is distinguished by the Sport Design package, which is standard. It features 21-inch RS Spyder wheels and black accents in trim and badging for a sporty appearance. Porsche recalibrates the air suspension on the GTS to deliver a slightly lower ride height.
Porsche active suspension management
For the ultimate in ride control and cornering, the active-shock setup in the PASM system is a must-have. The system utilizes a 48-volt electrical system to adjust the torsional rigidity of the suspension to nearly eliminate body roll – the shocks are adjusted in milliseconds, reacting to changing road surfaces and even the driver’s own habits.
Looking like a 12.3-inch slab of polished black onyx until you start the vehicle, the Cayenne’s massive touchscreen infotainment is one of our favorite in-cabin features. Controlled by either large block icons or haptic-feedback buttons surrounding the center console shifter, the screen serves as the focal point for navigation, camera feeds, apps, and Apple CarPlay integration
Standard on the Cayenne is Integrated 4D Chassis Control, 19-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, Porsche Communication Management featuring a 12.3-inch touch screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, a 10-speaker/150-watt audio system, front and rear park assist, LED headlights and taillights, keyless entry with push-button start and an 8-way-power driver’s seat.
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Standard safety equipment includes front and rear side airbags and Porsche’s Warn and Brake Assist. Advanced driver-assist systems are also available on the Cayenne, but they are part of extra-cost packages.
Options and upgrades are almost too numerous to count. Among the more desirable standouts are 18 different wheel choices, leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 18-way-adaptive sport seats, adaptive headlights, a panoramic sunroof, and a 21-speaker/1,455-watt Burmester audio system.
On the suspension front, buyers can opt for an air suspension or the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, rear-axle steering, and the Sport Chrono Package that adds launch control and a digital and analog stopwatch. Adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist and autonomous braking is also optional, as are night vision and a head-up display.
Engine and transmission
Powering the 2021 Porsche Cayenne is a line of turbocharged and hybrid engines, starting with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 good for 355 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque. Standard in the base Cayenne, this engine design hides the turbocharger in the valley between the cylinders, rather than below them, giving the Cayenne a lower center of gravity.
The Cayenne S is powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6, while the new-for-2021 Cayenne GTS derives its power from a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. The Turbo models use that same twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, but with more powerful tuning.
The E-Hybrid combines a 3.0-liter turbo V6 with a 134-horsepower electric motor for a combined output of 455 horsepower, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid does the same with the twin-turbo V8 for a combined output of 670 horsepower. The E-Hybrid can also run solely on electric power for a distance of 27 miles at speeds up to 85 mph.
All Cayenne models use an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Although not as fast as the PDK dual-clutch transmission used on other Porsche vehicles, this one seems to work well in the Cayenne, answering to both a performance and luxury call. All Cayenne models come standard with all-wheel drive (AWD).
3.0-liter turbocharged V6 (Cayenne):
335 horsepower @ 5,300-6,400 rpm
322 lb-ft of torque @ 1,340-5,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 mpg
2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (Cayenne S):
434 horsepower @ 5,700-6,600 rpm
406 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/22 mpg
3.0-liter turbocharged V6 + electric motor (Cayenne E-Hybrid):
455 horsepower @ 5,300-6,400 rpm (net system horsepower)
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,340-5,300 rpm (net system torque)
EPA combined fuel economy: est 41 MPGe (gas & electric), 21 mpg (gas)
4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (Cayenne GTS):
453 horsepower @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
457 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/19 mpg
4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (Cayenne Turbo):
541 horsepower @ 5,750-6,000 rpm
568 lb-ft of torque @ 1,960-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/19 mpg
4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 + electric motor (Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid):
670 horsepower @ 5,750-6,000 rpm (net system horsepower)
663 lb-ft of torque @ 2,100-4,500 rpm (net system torque)
EPA combined fuel economy: est 39 MPGe (gas & electric), 18 mpg (gas)
This story originally ran on KBB.com.
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