The 2011 Porsche Cayenne has been named Motor Trend’s Sport/Utility of the Year. The December 2010 issue profiled 15 SUV models for 2011 that were either all-new, new generation, or significantly refreshed from last year’s models. The criteria in evaluating the vehicles was design advancement, engineering excellence, intended function, efficiency, safety, and value.
Each vehicle was subjected to an instrument test, testing for acceleration, braking, figure 8, lateral g, and autocross followed by a 35-mile road loop, and then a 3-mile dirt track test. The models deemed “contenders” for the award were the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Honda Accord Crosstour, Hyundai Santa Fe, Lexus GX460, Lincoln MKX, Kia Sorento, and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
The models deemed “finalists” for the award were the Ford Edge, Hyundai Tucson, Infiniti QX56, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sportage, and Nissan Juke. Motor Trend said that while they do not give an award for second place, the Infiniti QX56 would have received the award calling it a “better Escalade”. The QX56 had an as tested price of $72,475.
Motor Trend is an automotive magazine for enthusiast drivers. While it may seem as no surprise that a Porsche would win the competition, the magazine explained why the Cayenne scored so many points in the evaluation process. For engineering advancement, the Cayenne has shed more than four hundred pounds in weight from comparable 2010 models by using lighter materials and the latest technologies.
The 2011 Cayenne has four engine offerings, a 3.6 liter 300 horsepower V-6, a 4.0 liter, 400-horsepower V-8, a 4.0 liter, 500 horsepower twin turbocharged V-8, and a 380 horsepower V-6 hybrid engine. The hybrid engine option scored big points in efficiency, as it has fuel economy of 21-mpg city and 25-mpg highway.
In design advancement, the Cayenne also scored big points. Despite having grown 2 inches longer and .4 inches wider, Motor Trend stated, “The exterior styling has taken a huge leap forward.” The interior was also well received. The Cayenne’s interior is bigger and its console and dash buttons borrow from the excellent Porsche Panamera.
In driving performance, the Cayenne is head and shoulders above other SUVs. Motor Trend called the Cayenne’s handling “uncanny” with such available features as an active anti-roll bar system, torque-vectoring rear axle, and ceramic brakes. In testing, the Cayenne Turbo went from 0-60 in an impressive 4.3 seconds. Just as astonishing, with the tested Turbo reached a price of $121,120. However, a base Cayenne starts at about $50,000.
The Cayenne is an impressive combination of performance and capability in one package. It tows over 7,700 pounds, is capable off-road, and handles like a Porsche. The 2011 Cayenne is on sale now.