July 13, 2012

2012 Porsche Cayenne

Base Price: $48,200
As Driven: $66,905, but asking $60,905
Engine: 3.6L V6, 300 hp
Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
Curb Weight: 4,398 lbs.
Wheelbase: 114 in.
MPG Rating: 15 city/ 22 hwy

                I drove an earlier generation Cayenne last summer.  By earlier I mean late 90’s-early 2000’s.  It was okay: supple suspension for a smooth ride, the Triptronic automatic transmission with the horrid buttons, and the awkward styling.  All of that added up to the 1st Porsche I had driven that I’d been comfortable in.  This 2012 Cayenne is the second one.
Someday I’ll fit in a 911 and maybe even enjoy it; so far, no go.  If you are a 911 enthusiast and want to change my mind, I’m always open to new experiences.

                The inside feels fantastic.  Leather everywhere is the first impression.  It is literally everywhere.  The cabin is quiet and road noise is an afterthought.
The rear seat has ample legroom.  All 6’4” of me fit in the back seat just fine with the driver’s seat in my driving position.  There are two LATCH systems in the back, but there is enough room to fit an “angsty” teenager between the child seats.  It’s the best an acceptable punishment since they outlawed corporal punishment.  It’s mental and a little physical if the two younger ones get “bitey.”
                Interior features include passenger window sunshades, dual/rear climate control, a sliding and reclining rear seat, and some cargo room.  The cargo space does not lead the segment, but is functional.  AC seats were a welcome option on a day where it was over 90 before 10am.  The seats are 8 way adjustable power seats and also do heated for the winter months.
                There is a cockpit feeling in the driver’s seat.  Everything is at your fingertips.  You have analog and digital gauges.  There is lots of information.  The middle instrument cluster is an analog tachometer with a digital speedometer in the middle.  It is quite nice. 
This car surrounds you with comfort and technology.  It’s like a modded La-Z-Boy, but with a V6, AWD, and an attitude.

                I didn’t want to write anything here.  The Cayenne’s styling can be polarizing.  Some like it, most become sick when they look at it, but I like the updated styling.  The early curves have been shaved down to more angular, racy lines. The front grille looks more menacing now.
                I don’t go for the “911 with a shed on the back” anymore.  Porsche has done a good job of rounding the edges in the back for more of a hatchback look and sharpening up the front end for the sports car look.
Rear visibility is limited by the headrests.

                There is quite a bit of tech in the Cayenne.  This one came equipped with satellite radio (“The Coffee House” was listened too, but wasn’t enjoyed as much), hands-free Bluetooth, and a USB input.
                A CD player is still included and it made me think about how much longer that will be a part of factory cars.  Three years? Five?  It can’t be much longer until we see the Auxiliary input no longer be auxiliary; it will just be “the input.”
                The Navigation was easy to navigate, but I struggled with the volume controls on the steering wheel.  I drive a number of different cars on a fairly routine basis, but I couldn’t turn up the volume from the steering wheel.  This could absolutely be user error, so make sure you ask the dealer how to before you buy one.  Then send me an angry note telling me how much smarter you are; they’ll make me laugh cry.
                I didn’t try to pair my phone, since this particular car is for sale and I didn’t want them to have my address book.  I have some private numbers in there

I love this transmission.  You’re not much of a car nerd if you shy away from manual transmissions and this transmission is the main reason I wanted to drive this car.  There are not a ton of SUV’s or trucks that are still equipped with a manual.  Jeep is still putting them in the Wranglers, and…  I’m drawing a blank.  Leave a comment if you can think of any factory prepped SUV’s with manual transmissions.
                The 3.6L V6 produces 300 horsepower.  It averages 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.  The base Cayenne isn’t fast, but it also isn’t slow.  It’s quick.  The 0 to 60 time is 7.1 seconds for a 4400 lbs. vehicle.  The horsepower and 0 to 60 time are respectable.
                The performance of this Cayenne brings me back to the “Slow Cars Fast” argument.  I’m definitely on the side of driving slow cars fast instead of fast cars slow.  Because this car isn’t over the top powerful, you’re able to put your foot in it fairly often, enjoy the driving experience, and not get as many tickets as say the S model.
The Cayenne isn’t slow.  You could shred your morning commute in it.  The all-wheel drive system means that it always feels planted.  It also means that you will probably experience some understeer (The wheels are turned, but the car doesn’t) if you get one out on the track.
                The Cayenne does not have any performance issues.  The S models rock a V8, but the V6 has power.  It isn’t throw you back in the seat power, but it will get you home safe every most nights, unless you get T-boned by a Darwin Award winner…  It doesn’t matter what car you’re in at that point.

                The Cayenne isn’t my ultimate LONG road trip vehicle (8 to 20 hour trips).  The Suburban/Yukon XL still heads that list for me.  If it is a weekend trip with a drive time between 2 to 5 hours though, then this is the car.  Did you like that specificity? 
                Family SUVs that seat 4 to 5 are everywhere: CRVs, 4Runners, Highlanders, Explorers, Traverses, Equinoxes, Durango’s, and a whole list of others.  The Cayenne comes with some panache.  It sounds great when you down shift, jumps into action when you ask it to, and then immediately dulls out the bumps when you’re ready to just cruise.
                I loved the Cayenne.  I also loved the last four cars I’ve driven, except the…  Sorry, no spoilers.

I love driving new cars and I’m not yet as jaded as some other automotive writers.  Sorry if things get too positive…  I don’t like putting too many negative vibes out into the world, especially when you’re talking about something that someone created. 

Here's the video review.

Thank you to Aristocrat Motors for letting me borrow the Cayenne.  They did not pay me to write this review.

1 comment:

  1. Imma send you some angsty teenagers to fit in the back seat.