It’s safe to assume we’re all done clutching our pearls about Porsche sullying its brand with an SUV, right? If you know anyone still determined to die on that particular hill, consider rolling up on their redoubt with a new 2024 Porsche Cayenne as proof the war is truly over. Twenty years after the Cayenne broke ground, the model has turned into not just a handsome cash cow for Porsche, but one of the best luxury SUVs, period.
And that’s still the case after the third-gen model gets a heavy refresh this year, which Porsche execs call one of the biggest mid-cycle updates in company history. Major powertrain upgrades —a reworked V8 plunked in the Cayenne S, and a new motor and larger battery in the E-Hybrid that juices electric driving range—are paired with across-the-board boosts like a brand new interior and standard PASM adaptive dampers on every model.
As is the Porsche way, it’s mostly hidden behind a conservative exterior redesign that sticks to the established script. But make no mistake, Porsche keeps finding space around the edges (or between them) to work its big SUV platform for all it’s worth. With the full-electric version still on track to debut in a few years, this is as good as gas-powered Cayennes are gonna get.
2024 Porsche Cayenne S Specs
- Base Price: $97,350 (as tested price not available)
- Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 468 hp @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 442 lb-ft @ 2,000-5,000 rpm
- Seating capacity: 5
- Curb weight: 4,874 pounds
- Cargo volume: 27.2 cubic feet | 60.3 cubic feet with second row folded
- Towing capacity: 7,700 pounds
- 0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds with Sport Chrono package
- Top speed: 169 mph
- EPA Fuel Economy: Not rated
- Quick Take: A phenomenal all-around package, though the redesigned interior has some growing pains.
- Score: 9.2/10
Cayenne's Changes Inside and Out
There’s another thing to appreciate about this reset: For 2024, the Cayenne lineup in America is contracting down to four models: Cayenne, Cayenne S, Cayenne E-Hybrid, and Cayenne Turbo GT. They’re all available in traditional coupe or SUV flavors except the coupe-only Turbo GT, but you’ll appreciate the simplicity of choice here. For now.
Regardless of roofline, the Cayenne has a new front and rear fascia. Up front you’ve got squarer intakes, reshaped “Matrix Design” LED headlights that look more Taycan-esque, and more aggressively-arched fenders. Out back the liftgate has been redesigned with a new full-width taillight and other straight-line elements to emphasize width. The license plate is relocated to the bumper on non-coupes.
In isolation, it lines up enough with how you remember the 2023 Cayenne looking that you have to squint to see the changes. But side by side, the new one is undeniably sharper at the edges and a handsome, purposeful expression of Porsche’s design language. You don’t need to be an expert in stoichiometry to see how it all comes together. It just does.
We previously covered the new Cayenne cockpit, as it melds a lot from the Taycan and likely previews where Porsche’s sports car interiors will head in the coming years. And there are enough changes to make a traditionalist nervous. No more twist ignition, replaced by a ubiquitous button. No more physical tach, supplanted by a floating 12.6-inch curved screen serving up customizable versions of Porsche’s traditional five-dial cluster. No more console mounted shifter, with the gear selector moved to the dash. And no more bored passengers thanks to an available 10.9-inch display on the dash ($1,490) that can stream video for those riding shotgun. Candidly, I think that particular trend is ridiculous, but to Porsche’s credit the passenger screen is completely invisible from the driver’s seat thanks to the built-in polarizer.
Though everything runs through the 12.3-inch center screen via the latest Porsche Communication Management build (6.0)—smooth and crisp as ever—there’s a new physical HVAC control panel where the gearshift used to be and a tiny screen to display temp and fan settings. The toggle switches feel nice and hefty with a great action to them, while the Taycan’s touchscreen-control air vents have been taken out back and shot. And hey, that’s a volume knob!
Two more uber-thoughtful touches of note: the new wireless charging setup (now standard across all models) pushes 15 watts and has a dedicated air conditioning vent inside to cool your phone. And PCM can pair phones via a displayed QR code—just scan it with your phone and voila, connected.
Even with such drastic differences, Porsche stuck the landing here. The HVAC panel in particular looks expensive and classy, and come on, how sweet is this Night Green/Neodyme motif in the Cayenne S I drove? Driven either by cost or caution, automakers have largely abandoned colorful interiors, and the world is poorer for it. Good job Porsche.
Personally, I’m on board with everything but the digital gauge cluster and the new gear shifter. The thin, floating screen is appropriate in the svelte Taycan, but for the Cayenne it feels too delicate and out of step with the scale of the vehicle. Especially considering how Porsche has resisted the iPad-stuck-to-the-dash infotainment screen design that’s plagued the rest of the industry, it’s a small step backward. Meanwhile the dash-mounted shifter, also borrowed from the Taycan, is sandwiched between the gauge cluster and infotainment screen and is inelegant to look at all the time.
Powertrain and Chassis Upgrades
The return of the V8 in the Cayenne S came about because Porsche engineers wanted a power increase but determined they’d done all they could with the V6, so they went and got the 4.0L twin-turbo V8 also found in the Turbo GT and VW Group bangers like the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Continental GT, and Audi RS6 Avant. You’ve got 468 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque to play with now, and to meet Euro emissions standards, efficiency has been raised with tricks like new camshaft sensors, an electric wastegate, higher-pressure injectors and smarter variable valve timing. And critically, as multiple Porsche reps pointed out, a “more emotive sound.” Can’t argue with that. Its fuel economy hasn’t been measured yet, but it’ll probably be on par with the V6, which goes to show it should’ve been a V8 all along.
The Cayenne Turbo GT ditches all that efficiency nonsense and cranks out 650 hp and 626 lb-ft from the same basic engine. Unfortunately for our European friends, that also means it won’t be sold there anymore.
But don’t think Porsche’s phoned it in here either. The Turbo GT benefits from a new two-chamber air suspension design, a wider front track (+1 inch) with increased camber (-0.45 degrees) to improve front-end bite, a 0.66-inch lower ride height, plus the full suite of recalibrated performance software: Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (active sway bars), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, the rear-axle steering, 4D Chassis Control, and even the ABS system have all been sharpened or boosted or otherwise enhanced.
Meanwhile the plug-in E-Hybrid sees serious changes. A new electric motor pairs with its V6 for a total system output of 463 hp and 479 lb-ft, and a bigger 25.9 kWh battery raises electric-only driving range to somewhere between 30 and 40 miles, though the EPA hasn’t tested it yet either. It can charge at 11 kW now, up from seven, meaning 0-100% is doable at home in just over two hours. You can move between electric and different hybrid drive modes using the steering wheel dial—now standard on all models, previously locked behind the Sport Chrono package—instead of futzing through multiple layers of menus. As expected, the dual powertrain raises curb weight by over 800 pounds.
All Cayennes still have AWD and Porsche’s Tiptronic S 8-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. Though the chassis itself is a carryover, what it rides on is not: Porsche made adaptive suspension standard and redesigned both the steel spring and air systems. Two-valve dampers means better-optimized compression and rebound and overall more composed and responsive handling, while new two-chamber airbags (down from three in the old model, but also upgraded to two valves) are utterly dialed in.
Lastly, overall tire and sidewall size is up an inch while interior diameters stay mostly the same for a slightly more comfortable ride.
How It Drives
The cars: a 2024 Porsche Cayenne S in Quartzite Grey and a Cayenne Turbo GT in Arctic Grey. (I know, I know, grey’s the day.) The test drive: a choose-your-own adventure route around the highways and byways of Southern California. The conclusion: regardless of spec, this is still the crossover to get if you give a damn about driving. If you can afford it.
In the Cayenne S, the V8 has a fat power band between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm that’s a joy to explore. Few owners will take theirs canyon carving, but if they did, they’d learn how much fun can be had locking it in third gear through a nice set of sweepers. The engine singing through the optional sport exhaust, the myriad suspension and handling improvements, the wonderfully direct steering rack… emotive indeed. It’s planted and firm yet playful and baiting. Even the standard brakes will send everything inside flying towards the windshield, and they hold up to an extended run down a good road.
That said, the test car was loaded up with thousands of dollars of performance extras including PDCC, PTV+, Sport Chrono, rear-axle steering, and the air suspension. Remove those and you’d be left with something that’s less composed and 0.3 seconds slower to 60 mph, but still a more engaging driver than 95% of SUVs out there.
Porsche’s own data shows that Cayenne buyers use their vehicles for “personal errands” above all else, and as before the Cayenne S is happy to poodle along surface streets—no weirdness from the torque converter automatic, no stress in the engine, no back-breaking impacts from the suspension. It’s a luxury SUV, after all, and it plays that part around town with aplomb.
A drive in a nicely-optioned Cayenne S is so satisfying that you might emerge wondering where the Turbo GT goes from here, or how it justifies a starting price around $200,000. One stomp on the accelerator and one huck into a sharp turn will set you straight. It’s brutally quick; the freed-up V8 launches the Turbo GT to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds while the transmission flies through the gears with a healthy blat each time. Twist the wheel and the widened front track, active sway bars, and reworked rear-axle steering send it diving into a turn with the agility and flatness of a hot hatch. I’m not exaggerating, it changes direction that deftly. It’s almost confusing.
More so than ever, it feels actually related to the lower-slung 911 and Panamera Turbo models with which it shares the name. All three make it look ludicrously easy to do impossible things at extralegal speeds. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is already a Nurburgring lap record holder, and this new one seems primed for a second round. It is admittedly way too much car for most people; then again, who’s buying a $200,000 SUV for practical reasons?
Event logistics meant I didn’t get to drive the E-Hybrid and no base models were on hand, but we’ll be back with a review of those when they’re available.
Still the Benchmark, if Not in Price
Porsche’s heard all your jokes about its expensive options and responded by raising prices across the board this year. No, not really. But it is true that the Cayenne is also getting more expensive, with MSRPs jumping between $5,000 and $7,000 depending on trim. Then again, reps were quick to point out that they’ve added in enough new standard content to make it an effective price chop on everything but the Turbo GT.
For example the Cayenne S now starts at $97,350 including destination, but it’s gained a new V8, a panoramic sunroof, lane keep and change assist, heated seats, wireless charging, and comfort access out of the box. The base model gets all that plus standard adaptive suspension, new 20-inch wheels and a slight power bump to ease its jump from $73,850 to $80,850. Your tolerance for this kind of math will track with your acceptance that nice things cost money and Porsche will sell every single Cayenne it can build regardless.
Two decades in, and it’s hard to believe people once had a big problem with Porsche selling gas-powered SUVs. Even more unbelievable: looking at the new Cayenne lineup, we’ll legitimately be sad when they stop.
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