2024 Porsche Cayenne First Drive: The Excellent One Car Solution

June 2, 2023

Provided to us for this review were two of the most interesting powertrains available at launch, the revamped Cayenne E-Hybrid plug-in hybrid (PHEV) V-6 and the once again V-8-powered Cayenne S (now with twin turbos). Both were equipped with optional air springs and rear-wheel steering along with the standard electronically adjustable shock absorbers. Somewhat unusually, these two 2024 Porsche Cayenne models make about the same power—463 hp for the PHEV and 468 hp for the V-8-and illustrate exactly what we're talking about.

Forget about differences in curb weights and what's under the hood. What we wrote five months ago about those prototypes is just as true today. "It's in the movements," we said, "in the way these 2024 Porsche Cayennes react when you first turn into a corner and the way the weight transfers and the body rolls. It's all very deliberately and highly controlled, like a dancer—the manner in which the weight settles on the outside wheels and the suspension crouches, takes a set, and eventually releases as you exit the turn. Each Cayenne does it the same way, so much so that the driver of a base model can easily keep up with the driver of a Turbo GT who isn't using enough throttle."

The only real difference we detected between the prototypes and the finished Cayennes was in the rear-steering tuning. Back in January, we wrote the system was practically invisible but it's a bit more noticeable now in the tightest corners when you're really pushing the car hard. There's a slight sensation of the rear end moving in an abnormal way, almost like a hint of oversteer when you fling the Cayenne into a corner like it's a tall 911. It never actually gets loose (at either end), but it certainly makes the car feel livelier than you'd expect of an SUV.

All this is a gift to the conflicted 2024 Porsche Cayenne buyer, because it gives them license to buy whatever model best suits their wants and needs. Want to save money up front, spend less time at gas stations, and reduce your carbon footprint? Get the hybrid. Gotta have that V-8 rumble? Get the S, or the Turbo GT if you really need an SUV that doubles as a track car.

That burble from the quad tailpipes and maybe just a bit of nostalgia for the days when V-8s were synonymous with absolute performance are the best reasons to buy the new S. Porsche binned the old high-output turbo V-6 used in the old Cayenne S because it was already at its power limit (the base Cayenne still receives the standard-output version of that engine). Between tightening global-emissions regulations and the general industry shift to electric cars, almost no automakers are introducing new V-8s these days, so get this one while the getting's good.

Otherwise, the differences in these two mid-level powertrains are surprisingly small. In addition to having roughly the same power, the PHEV and the V-8 deliver it in roughly the same way. Whether by displacement or electric motor, both shove you off the line with strong low-end torque that transitions seamlessly to a smooth, uninterrupted pull to redline. The V-6 in the PHEV even sounds pretty decent doing it. It also drives more than 45 miles on pure electric power now, enough to complete the average American's daily commute without using any expensive gas.

Far more than the new engine and nose job, customers are going to have thoughts about the interior. If they've spent time in a Porsche Taycan, they'll recognize it, but otherwise it's going to be a whole new experience. Nearly everything you look at and touch is new, save the twin grab-handles on the center console.

Moving it there opened up lots of space on the center console, though we're not sold on how that space is used. The new climate-control panel takes up a good chunk of the area and features a mix of mechanical and touch controls that seem more like a triumph of design than of great function. The small bins ahead of and behind it seem more like empty spaces than purposefully designed ones, but at least the forward one has a wireless phone charger.

The proliferation of screens on the dashboard itself will read as either tech-forward or tech for tech's sake, depending on the buyer. The digital instrument cluster is crisp and bright despite being unshaded, and it has many different screens that are a bit confusing to scroll through and also disappointingly lacking when it comes to customizing the content shown on them. Same goes for the head-up display.

The center infotainment screen and its optional redundant twin in front of the passenger run Porsche's latest user interface that's not only cleaner and simpler to use than before but now also pops up useful functions when appropriate. Change drive modes, for instance, and options for damper settings and exhaust volume appear at the bottom of the screen.

The screen in front of the passenger does all the same things the central screen does, but with a filter so the driver can't be distracted by what the front seat passenger is playing with. As we found with the Taycan, actually using the passenger screen requires leaning forward uncomfortably or moving your seat up to the dash just to reach it, at which point you can change the radio station just as easily on the center screen. The potential ability to watch streaming video content on the passenger screen during a drive seems the only real case for this feature.

The Porsche Cayenne's most impressive attribute has always been its ability to be all things to all people. It drives like a tall sports car when you want it to, but it also takes the kids to school comfortably. While interior space is unchanged (this is a refresh, after all), the 2024 Cayenne's combination of new suspension dampers, new air springs, and tires with slightly taller sidewalls make for an even more comfortable ride.

Indeed, in its default driving mode, the Cayenne is more of a luxury SUV than ever. All the suspension improvements don't just make it handle better, they make it a more pleasant experience for the passengers all around. There's less jostling from bad roads and you aren't thrown around as much when the driver decides to get aggressive on a freeway cloverleaf. You get the feeling you could do 1,000 miles a day in this car, easy, and still arrive ready to party.

This content was originally published here.

2024 Porsche Cayenne First Drive: The Excellent One Car Solution