By David Colman
Hypes: Torquemeister, Impeccable Interior Appointments
Gripes: Slight Vibration at Idle
When the term SUV was coined back in the late 80s to describe the Ford Explorer and its imitators, the word “sports” in the descriptor ‘sports utility vehicle’ referred to the amount of sports gear your utility vehicle could transport. It certainly didn’t mean that your SUV was sporting to drive.
But all that changed when BMW debuted the X5, followed by Porsche’s introduction of the Cayenne. These SUVs put a premium on driving enjoyment rather than pack mule capacity. Porsche has been refining the Cayenne for almost a decade now, and the latest diesel-powered offering is a testament to just how much they’ve improved the breed.
This is a heavy duty truck, with a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds. It’s also capable of traversing just about any wilderness trail, thanks to full time all wheel drive, air-adjustable ride height, and locking front and center differentials. Yet on paved roads, the Cayenne diesel behaves much like any Porsche sports car, with an agility and responsiveness that belie its curb weight of 4,700 pounds.
Under the hood lies a 3.0 liter, turbocharged, V-6 diesel that makes just 240hp. While that horsepower rating seems low compared to available gasoline fueled Cayennes — which range from 300hp (3.6 liter V-6) to 500hp (4.8 liter twin turbo V-8) — the diesel’s immediate torque output of 406 lb.-ft. elevates it above the rest of the model line for sheer grunt. When you swing wide to pass slower traffic, the diesel’s torque produces an instant surge that is unmatched by any other Cayenne. It’s exactly the kind of thrust you’re going to need when towing a travel trailer over the Sierras.