The MacanÂ may be Porscheâ€™s best-selling vehicle, but it owes all of its success to the Cayenne. When the SUVÂ began production in 2002, we all scoffed andÂ claimed it would never work. But the vehicle’s success has had us feasting on crow for the last 15 years.
About to enter its third generation, the Cayenne doesn’t appear to have changed much at a glance. AppearancesÂ are often deceptive, however, and this would be a prime example of the phenomenon. For 2019, the SUV comes equipped with new engines, new brakes, a new transmission, and gobs of added tech.
Visually, Porsche says theÂ “the new Cayenne retains a strong visual connection to its predecessors.” If that’s code for saying it looks nearly identical to the previousÂ model and, by extension, all modern Porsches, then it wasn’t very difficult to decrypt. But the German automaker knows it has an incredibly well-established design language. It’s not about to shake things up for the sake of being different.Â
The only obvious difference is the wider grille, which now appears as a more singular piece. There’s still three separate air dams, but the slats are positionedÂ in a way that makes them look contiguous. Porsche is also outfitting the Cayenne with more lighting options and makes extensive use of LEDs.
Retaining the same wheelbase as its predecessor, the new model manages to squeeze 15-percent more cargo capacity behind its rear seats withoutÂ sacrificing the familiar shape. However, that adds roughlyÂ 3 inches to the Cayenneâ€™s overall length for a total of 194 inches.
Despite the increase in length, the Cayenne hasnâ€™t gained any weight.Â Depending on the configuration, it can be as much as 143 pounds lighter than its outgoing counterpart. Weight distribution for the base model is approximately 55 percent front and 45 percent rear.
There’s more good news from beneath the hood. Porsche has furnished the 2019Â model year Cayenne with your choice ofÂ two turbocharged V6 engines. The base unit is a 3.0-liter single-turbo mill withÂ 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, while theÂ Cayenne S offers a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 with 440 horsepower and 406 lb-ft.
According to Porsche, the base modelÂ should reachÂ 60 mphÂ inÂ 5.9 seconds, or 5.6 with the Sport Chrono package. For theÂ Cayenne S that number drops toÂ 4.9 seconds and 4.6 seconds with Sport Chrono. From a performance perspective, that’s as good and better than the automaker’s currentÂ GTS-trimmed SUV.
All new Cayennes will comeÂ standard with an updated eight-speed Tiptronic transmission with quicker response times in lower gears.Â Porsche’s Traction Management all-wheel drive system also comes as standard and provides five traction settings, including four for “mild off-road terrain.”
The Cayenne will also have 911-inspired staggered wheel sizes. Although, why Porsche would bother on a front-enginedÂ SUV with off-road capabilities is unclear.Â Porsche did say the model wasÂ “designed to be the sports car within its segment.” But it also might justÂ come down to how good it looks.
Suspension tech remains a cut above with aspects borrowed from theÂ Panamera. Active suspension damping is standard, with optional three-chamber air suspension, active stabilizer bars, and rear wheel steering via Porsche’s dynamic chassis control package.Â
Also improving performance is a novel braking technology that Porsche claims is first in the world. Available only as an option, these high-performance “Surface Coated Brakes” consist of a cast-iron disc with 70 micrometers of tungsten-carbide coating. The result is a mirror-like finish andÂ superiorÂ performance with less wear and a longer lifespan.
Inside the cabin, the Cayenne borrows from the Panamera again with its new 12.3-inch touchscreenÂ andÂ black-glass capacitive control surfaces.Â The interface’s layout and organization can be customized, saving up to six individual profiles that recall cabin comfort setting, driving mode preferences, assistanceÂ technologies, and audioÂ settings.
Driving assistance and safetyÂ upgrades are decent, including an optional thermal night vision system, lane change assist, lane keeping, traffic sign recognition, parking assist with surround view, and InnoDrive adaptive cruise with traffic jam crawling.
The 2019 Cayenne launches with a base price of $65,700, while S models start at $82,900. However, after anÂ additional $1,050 destination charge and a laundry list of optional extras, you’ll soon be paying thousands moreÂ than you originally intended. Fortunately, you have until the summer of 2018 toÂ save up.