It's hard to believe that the Cayenne has been a part of the Porsche family for 15 years now, but in that time, it shaped what consumers have come to expect from a premium sport utility vehicle. Over two generations, it raised the bar on performance and handling, and that's resulted in some truly impressive competition from brands as varied as Land Rover, Maserati, and Tesla.
For 2017, Porsche has given the Cayenne's infotainment system a big upgrade with a new high-resolution screen, proximity sensor, and the tablet-style pinch and swipe controls. This setup also includes USB ports, plus Bluetooth and Bluetooth streaming abilities. The system can be further enhanced with the Connect Plus upgrade that adds Apple CarPlay connectivity, on-board wi-fi, plus integration with the Porsche Connect App.
Also new this year is the addition of a new Platinum Edition trim level for the base V6-powered Cayenne and the plug-in hybrid models. Going Platinum doesn't mean getting any shiny gold-blonde accents, but instead features 20-inch RS Spyder Design alloy wheels in a satin finish, door sill guards with the Platinum Edition logo, eight-way sports seats with Alcantara inserts, and Porsche Connect Plus with navigation.
The Cayenne shares its basic platform with the Volkswagen Touareg, and benefits from its spacious and nicely finished interior, rear seats that recline, a large cargo area, and a stout chassis that enables it to tow up to 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lbs).
Despite all this, the Cayenne is still a remarkable vehicle to drive, and one of the best balanced SUVs money can buy. Its handling is accurate, and its ride is flat without sacrificing comfort. On its lengthy list of options, the Cayenne can be equipped with air suspension, adaptive dampers, active anti-roll bars, and a torque-vectoring differential. Carbon-ceramic brakes are also available for racetrack-proof stopping power, and come standard on the Turbo S.
Porsche offers Canadians a total of six different powertrain choices to suit a wide variety of needs. All have an eight-speed automatic transmission, all receive standard all-wheel drive, and all have an engine idle-stop system to reduce consumption in traffic and at stop lights.
The entry level model, branded simply as Cayenne, uses a 3.6-litre narrow-angle naturally aspirated V6 that develops 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.
The Cayenne S uses a 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that produces an impressive 420 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. This same engine is used by the GTS, but produces a bit more power and torque - 440 hp and 442 lb-ft.
The Cayenne Turbo features a 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8 which produces 520 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque.
The Turbo S stakes it claim as one of the most potent SUVs on the road. Its version of the 4.8 twin-turbo makes 570 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque.
Those preferring a slightly more economical option may wish to consider the S E-Hybrid. It uses a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine, which in conjunction with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack generates 416 horsepower and 435 lb-ft of torque.
Pricing for the Cayenne starts at $68,900 with the Turbo S selling for $180,700.