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2011 Porsche Cayenne Overview

Porsche has put its Cayenne on a diet. Despite near-constant grumblings from the public about maintaining brand purity, the SUV has been a huge success for the German manufacturer, trading off best-selling status with the 911 since its introduction in 2002. With chops like that, Porsche would’ve needed no explanation to simply sit back and collect the checks, but instead they’ve opted for a model refresh that not only gives the Cayenne a facelift, but drops pounds and increases efficiency.

The visual changes have gotten a lot of press for this latest iteration of the Cayenne, and deservedly so. The transition to a more “orga” look is a pleasant depart from the more “mecha-inspired” lines of the previous model years. Much more important however, is the deletion of the heavy off-road equipment that, let’s face it, no one was using anyway. With that, the two-speed transfer case is out, and with it a lot of dead weight. A new production process for the doors sheds an additional 86 pounds, and the use of many aluminum components in the chassis drops another 146 pounds. Altogether, the Cayenne S will drive up to the scale an impressive 396 pounds shy of last year’s total. These weight savings should certainly help achieve a claimed 23% reduction in fuel consumption for all its gasoline engines, despite power increases.

In fact the Base trim starts out with a 300-hp, 3.6-liter V6, an increase of 10 hp over last year, with an additional increase of 22 lb-ft of torque, for a total of 295 available at 3,000 rpm. Fifteen hp were added to the S trim’s 4.8-liter V8, now producing an even 400 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The turbocharged version of the 4.8-liter engine in the Turbo trim offers 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque at just 2,250 rpm, just as it did last year.

The big news for 2011 is the delayed introduction of the S Hybrid trim, which offers a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 mated to a three-phase synchronous electric motor. Total power output will be 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque, both available from 1,000 rpm. Porsche claims the S Hybrid can run on electric-only power up to 40 mph and can go into an electric-only coasting mode up to 97 mph. Not too shabby for a first effort!

While a six-speed manual transmission is standard in the Base trim, an eight-speed automatic is optional and standard in the rest of the lineup. Maximum towing capacity exceeds 7,700 pounds, but really it’s the performance prowess of the Cayenne that has been most impressive, something that should only improve with the longer, wider, and lower Cayenne of 2011. Still, I expect most people will still concentrate on how much “prettier” the Cayenne is in 2011, and they’re right. It is pretty.


A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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