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Review: 2012 Porsche Cayenne

Redusernab July 26, 2012 Porsche Reviews 10 Comments

 

Chris Tracy normally mans the post at . He sent over a review of the 2013 Audi Allroad, which we ran recently… and we liked it so much, we asked him back for another round. This time he’s stepped up to a more expensive marque from Germany.

We’re talking about the 2012 Porsche Cayenne, and somehow Tracy got his grubby mitts on one for a bit of seat time. Keep reading for his take on the Teutonic soft-roader— Redusernab

Base Price: $48,200
As-Driven: $66,905, but asking $60,905
Engine: 3.6L V6, 300hp
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’m talking about an example from the late 90’s-early 2000’s. It was… okay. That Cayenne boasted supple suspension for a smooth ride, a Tiptronic automatic transmission with horrid buttons, and a heaping of awkward styling. This was the first Porsche I had driven in which I was able to remain comfortable.

This 2012 Cayenne is the second one.

Interior: Quite simply, the interior feels fantastic. Leather everywhere is the immediate impression, because it’s quite literally everywhere. Thanks to all that cow-supplied sound deadening, the cabin is quiet and road noise is an afterthought. The rear seat has ample legroom, and all 6’4” of me fit in the back just fine while the driver’s seat was set to 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 form of acceptable bad-child banishment since they outlawed corporal punishment seeing as it can produce both mental and physical pain if the two younger ones get bitey.

That’s the only bit of punishment though because the interior features include passenger window sunshades, dual/rear climate control, a sliding and reclining rear seat, and a bit of cargo room. The cargo space does not lead the segment, but it is functional. Ventilated front seats were a welcome option on a day where it was over 90 before 10am. Said seats are eight-way-adjustable power units that also heat your rear for the winter months.

The driver’s seat provides the sensation of sitting in a cockpit. Everything is at your fingertips, and the mix of analog and digital gauges provide a ton of information. The middle instrument cluster is an analog tachometer while a digital speedometer sits in the middle. The Cayenne surrounds you with comfort and technology. It’s like a modded La-Z-Boy, but with a V6, AWD, and an attitude.

Exterior: I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to write anything here. To put it plainly, the styling of the Cayenne is polarizing. Some like it, while others become sick at the mere mention of the model name. I, for one, rather like the updated styling. The early curves have been shaved down to more angular, racy lines, and the front grille looks much more menacing.

This is no longer a 911 with a shed on the back. Porsche has done a good job of rounding the edges in the rear for more of a hatchback look, and sharpened up the front end to produce a far sportier appearance.

Tech: Our tester came equipped with satellite radio (“The Coffee House” was listened too, but wasn’t enjoyed very 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. You laugh, but this can be a problem with other vehicles, specifically those in the luxury segment. Oddly, 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 do so should you buy one. Then send me an angry note telling me how much smarter you are; they’ll make me laugh-cry from my bubble bath.

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.

Performance: Can you love a transmission? I think you can because I love this one. Surely you’re not much of a car nerd if you shy away from manual gearboxes, and row-your-own is the main reason I wanted to drive this particular Cayenne. There are not a ton of SUV’s or trucks that are still equipped with a manual. Jeep is stuffing them into 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, and averages 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. The base Cayenne isn’t fast, but it’s certainly far from slow. It’s quick, it’s just that rest of the family is  much quicker. The 0-to-60 time is 7.1 seconds, we’re talking about a 4400-pound vehicle.

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. You could shred your morning commute in it, and the all-wheel drive system ensures it always feels planted. It also means that you will probably experience some understeer if you being to push too hard.

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 night, unless you get T-boned by a Darwin Award winner… It doesn’t matter what car you’re in at that point.

Overall: 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?

Sure, 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 extra Porsche 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.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I’ll spell it out. I loved the Cayenne.

I also love driving any new car, and I’m not yet as jaded as some other automotive writers [Ed.’s Note – Hi everybody!]. 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.

  • Great summary. That it has a manual transmission was a bit shocking.

    My cousin in Japan has a base Cayenne. When he came here to visit, he saw (and I explained) the S, the GTS, the Turbo, and the Turbo S. He didn't know any of those other trim levels existed. This makes me want to visit a dealership over there.

    And another thing, his original choice was a Hummer H2 (I know, I know), but it wouldn't fit in the little elevator-rotisserie-parking doo-hickey he uses.

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      I suppose a Japanese fellow owning a huge (relatively), ostentatious SUV isn't really much different from North American Hoons salivating over kei cars. It's the same sort of fun, foreign-stereotypical ride that stands out from the crowd… one is just far cheaper to and easier to park, is all.

      • I can see that. He is a true car nut. He has a huge slot car collection that he's hiding from his wife by storing it at my dad's apartment. And his wife was a Lotus grid girl. I've got quite a family.

  • david42

    Stick shift??? You could've titled the post "I found a Cayenne with a manual transmission" and people would click just to see a pic.

    Any idea what the take rate is?

    That reminds me… We were hunting for a new car several months ago, and found a CPO BMW X5 diesel stick-shift…. half way across the country. Too expensive, too big, too used, and too far… and I still kind of wish we bought it.

    • The dealer here had two manuals. A black one and a blue one. They listed them as ultra rare, so that's why I headed in for the test drive. It really was a blast to drive. Big enough to haul the kids around, but with the ability to downshift and enjoy the driving experience.

  • joshwebster84

    I still hate this car. From the very idea of a 4,300lb. Porsche, to the fact that they gave it a stereotypical Southwest-y name.

  • CherokeeOwner

    The base and premium Subaru Forester models come standard with a stick. Diesel-powered Ram 2500s and 3500s come standard with a stick. While I don't want to acknowledge their existence, the Jeep Patriot and Compass twins have sticks, including on one AWD model each, but no low-range. Then again, the same can be said for the Cayenne since they dumped the low-range gearbox on this generation model.

  • POLAЯ

    KEEP YER NAHINE ERLEVIN AWAYS FRUM MAH SHED, BOY!

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  • Chris

    Long live the VR6

  • knowitallat14

    I have loved the Cayenne for a very long time. It wasn't always that gorgeous, but I like the fact that you can still have the quickness of a Porsche and the utility of an Explorer smashed together. You also can't get a new Explorer with a manual transmission anymore…:)

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