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2012 Porsche Cayenne Overview

One year off a redesign the Cayenne gets some small changes. Rest assured, the divisive design of the controversial crossover will remain unchanged, as adjustments here are made exclusively to the various drivetrains involved. S Hybrid and Turbo trims both get powerplant pushes in 2012, upping power and efficiency in this most illogical offering.

But logical or no, the Cayenne has been a big success for Porsche, even beating out the immortal 911 in terms of sales. This despite being an SUV that in its various forms doesn’t do well as an off-road vehicle, isn’t all that sporty a sport crossover and isn’t very efficient as a hybrid. But these are the very issues addressed in 2012, with the Turbo trim getting the same powerkit offered to the Panamera S, which will boost power from its 4.8-liter turbocharged V8 to 540 hp – good enough to vault the Cayenne Turbo to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, with a top speed of 176 mph. The Turbo also gets larger, 420mm front brake discs this year, to compensate for the extra speed, presumably.

The S Hybrid on the other hand gets changes to its hybrid management systems. This will allow its 3-phase synchronous electric motors to engage low-speed EV mode from a cold start, as opposed to needing the conventional engine to reach operating temperature first, as in previous years. This means the Cayenne S Hybrid can start and even drive at low speed on electric power alone. Sadly, the S Hybrid still uses older NiMH batteries instead of the lighter, more efficient lithium-ion. Total power output from the electric motor and the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 is 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque, with claims of running on electric-only power up to 40 mph.

The Base trim gets no changes to its 300-hp, 3.6-liter V6, however, which just got an increase of 10 hp last year, as well as 22 extra lb-ft of torque, for a total of 295 available at 3,000 rpm. That engine gets a 6-speed manual transmission, with an 8-speed automatic available as an option for the Base and standard elsewhere.

While the suspension of the Base, S and Turbo trims is quite car-like, the optional Sport and Comfort modes offered with the adjustable suspension on the Turbo trim go too far in either direction – Sport is too abrupt and stiff, and Comfort is too soft and swaying. The 19-inch alloy wheels make things a little more harsh than the 18-inch units on the Base and S, and the 21-inch options just ruin things altogether. The Hybrid has its own problems with wooden, abrupt braking and vague, numb steering. Anything but sporty.

But more power and greater efficiency are concepts most find hard to criticize. Yes, there’s a bit of a price increase this year, but it’s a small portion of an already exaggerated cost. We’ll wait around for the feel to be put back into the Hybrid, as well as some more modern batteries, but until then the remaining three trims are all impressive options. If only the diesel version would come to our shores as well.


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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Porsche Cayenne Questions

Bucking While Driving 2012 Porsche Cyanne S

my Porsche is bucking in 2nd an 3rd gear, what causing that

2012 Porsche Cayenne Base

i just changed my breaks with the durlast gold brake pad but my brake pad wear senor needs to be change but im not sure if my disc are iorn or cermaic. im guessing it matters but im not sure what ...

Burinmg Oil For No Reason And No Leak

I have a 2012 Porsche Cayenne S with 45,500 miles, Every 1200 miles or so I need to add half quart of Oil There is no leak and burning oil from Exhaust. S, what is the reason.