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2018 Porsche Panamera: New Car Review

The 2018 Porsche Panamera continues to expand both its model offerings and its desirability to those with the means to afford one. Defying the critics who said a 4-door Porsche would never fly, the Panamera is not only a sales success, it’s driving other high-end manufacturers to create competitors of their own. Of course, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are going to have to put in some overtime if they expect to match the wide variety of models and powertrains offered by the Panamera, a lineup comprised of 15 different cars, including a wagon variant and two hybrid models.

Despite the wide variations in powertrain and performance, one thing remains constant across the Panamera lineup: They all drive great. They also all possess Porsche’s superb interior quality and an immense list of options that allows you to outfit a Panamera to your exact liking. The cabin boasts numerous features, including a 12.3-inch touchscreen interface complete with Apple CarPlay and an admittedly problematic collection of accompanying touch-sensitive controls. There’s also a broad collection of driving aides, including the near-autonomous Porsche InnoDrive system for highways.

In short, the Panamera deserves a look from anyone considering the upper crust of luxury sedans. For those who prioritize the driving experience over limo-like space and comfort, it’s an absolute must-drive.

What’s New for 2018?

For 2018, the wagon-like Sport Turismo is finalized in the lineup, while a new Turbo S E-Hybrid boasting 680 horsepower is added to the Panamera family. See the 2018 Porsche Panamera models for sale near you

What We Like

Superb acceleration; excellent handling; surprisingly practical; high-quality cabin; highly customizable

What We Don’t

Touch-sensitive "buttons" and fingerprint-attracting gloss black trim; huge price gap between models

How Much?

$86,050-$280,000

Fuel Economy

There are a wide variety of engines available, but all come with an 8-speed automated manual transmission called a PDK. All except the base Panamera come with all-wheel drive (indicated by the number 4).

The standard Panamera has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 good for 330 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy estimates are 21 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving with rear-wheel drive. The Panamera 4 essentially gets 1 mpg worse.

Panamera 4S models have a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 good for 440 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. It returns 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.

The Panamera Turbo has a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that pumps out 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. It returns 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.

The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid starts things off with the 4S engine and adds an electric motor for a combined output of 462 hp and 516 lb-ft. It’s a plug-in hybrid. Electric range and fuel economy estimates were not available for either E-Hybrid at the time of this writing.

The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid pairs the Turbo engine with that same electric motor for a massive combined output of 680 hp and 626 lb-ft.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Porsche Panamera is available in three body styles: a standard-wheelbase hatchback, an extended-wheelbase hatchback known as the Executive, and a quasi-wagon based on the standard wheelbase, known as the Sport Turismo. There are also varying models based on engine, with the number 4 in a name indicating all-wheel drive.

The standard Panamera ($86,050) and Panamera 4 ($90,650) come standard with 19-in wheels, an adaptive suspension (PASM), a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, automatic wipers, power-folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a backup camera, a power hatch, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 8-way power front seats, partial leather upholstery, the Porsche Communication Management touchscreen interface, Connect Plus (remote vehicle services, on-board internet, vehicle tracking), Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, three USB ports (one front, two rear), satellite radio, HD Radio and a 10-speaker sound system.

The Panamera 4 Sport Turismo ($97,250) adds a rear middle seat. The Panamera 4S ($104,050) adds a more powerful engine and different 19-in wheels. The E-Hybrid ($108,650) models have a plug-in hybrid powertrain, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid adds a more performance-oriented plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Executive trims add more rear legroom, rear-wheel steering (for greater maneuverability), an adaptive air suspension, soft-close doors, heated rear seats and an enhanced rear center console.

The Turbo ($151,050) and Turbo S E-Hybrid ($185,450) trims add a more powerful engine, 20-in wheels, the air suspension, adaptive LED headlights, "Comfort Access" keyless entry and start, auto-dimming mirrors, 10-way power front seats (include 4-way lumbar), driver memory functions, a full leather interior, the heated rear seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, an Alcantara headliner and a 14-speaker Bose Surround Sound audio system. The Turbo Executive ($161,050) combines what you see above with 4-zone climate control.

Apart from the engines, you can get any of the above equipment as options on any lower model.

The options list from there on is extensive, ranging from conventional items to customization features. Highlights include a variety of wheels, ceramic composite brakes, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control (which includes forward-collision warning), an enhanced adaptive cruise control system with partly autonomous functionality (Porsche InnoDrive), a surround-view parking camera, night-vision assistance, 14-way adaptive seats (front and/or rear), 8-way power rear seats, seat ventilation (front and/or rear), massaging seats (front and/or rear), a heated steering wheel, power rear sunshades, a rear-seat entertainment system, a 6-CD/DVD changer and a 21-speaker Burmester premium sound system.

Safety

Every 2018 Panamera comes standard with an advanced stability control system, antilock brakes, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, front-knee airbags and a backup camera. Optional equipment includes a blind spot monitoring system (Lane Change Assist), a lane-keeping system, a forward-collision warning system (included with adaptive cruise control) and a night-vision assist camera/display.

Behind the Wheel

The Panamera is for those seeking a flagship luxury sedan that’s every bit as rewarding and thrilling to drive as a sports car. Although it’s quite large, its handling, steering, electronic aides and colossal power (regardless of engine) result in a car that should be better to drive than everything else in its segment. We’d recommend trying out a variety of models in a variety of specifications (noting engine, suspension and steering) to make sure you get the Panamera that meets your preferences, but it’s safe to say there isn’t a snooze-inducer in the bunch.

You sit low in the Panamera, much as you would in a 911, enveloped by Porsche’s superbly comfortable, supportive and adjustable seats. That applies whether you’re in the driver’s seat or riding in the back. Space all around is excellent, although it obviously gets better with the long-wheelbase Executive model. The front cabin is dominated by a wide, rising center console covered in controls. Unlike the first-generation car, however, the 2018 Panamera has ditched physical buttons for touch-sensitive controls and a greater reliance on the new 12.3-in main touchscreen. We can’t say it’s an improvement — it might even be worse.

Once again, the Panamera has a hatchback over its cargo area that grants it greater cargo versatility than the typical flagship luxury sedan. For 2018, however, you can increase that versatility even further with the new Sport Turismo quasi-wagon. Rarely has practicality been so much fun.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS — Though getting on in years, the CLS offers a similar degree of style, luxury and performance as the Panamera, right up to its mighty CLS 63 S model. For those interested in Benz’s latest-and-greatest performance model, the new E 63 is also worth a look.

2018 Audi A7, S7 or RS 7 — This trio is close to the Panamera in concept, and in its range-topping RS 7 guise is one of the few cars that can keep up with (and maybe even beat) the Panamera Turbo.

2018 Tesla Model S — Even if you’re not considering the E-Hybrid models, the Tesla offers comparable space and performance to any Panamera. Yes, Tesla’s electric powertrains offer great appeal, but its reliability and build quality pale in comparison to Porsche’s.

Autotrader’s Advice

When it comes to any Porsche, make sure to sample as many model, engine and performance option combinations as possible. It may take longer at the dealer, but you’ll know you’re getting the right version for you. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine being unhappy with any of these cars, as even the base car offers compelling performance and has the same standard and optional feature content as the pricier 4S.

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