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Video | 2019 Porsche Cayenne: First Drive Review

In a growing sea of luxury crossover SUVs, one that manages to stand out is the Porsche Cayenne. All new for 2019, the Cayenne enters its third generation upholding its reputation for being both luxurious and sporty. With a new base engine, a (slightly) new look and some new tech, the 2019 Porsche Cayenne remains a compelling choice in a competitive segment.

More Than Meets the Eye

I remember when this third-generation Cayenne was unveiled, I had to double check that the SUV I was looking at actually was the all-new 2019 model. From most angles, the new Cayenne looks very similar to the outgoing second-gen model, but once you do notice the differences, they actually do give the overall look of the Cayenne an improvement, subtle as it may be. The most noticeable difference is the taillights, which adopt the horizontal line that’s been spreading through the Porsche lineup.

But as soon as you get inside the new Cayenne, it becomes much more different from its predecessor. The second-gen Cayenne was nice on the inside, but it suffered a bit from plastic buttons in the center stack that cheapened the interior a bit. Those buttons have been replaced with piano black haptic feedback buttons that have a much more premium look and feel without losing any functionality.

The Nuts and Bolts

The new base engine in the 2019 Cayenne is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, which replaces the naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 in the outgoing model. The new engine makes 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which is a strong improvement over the previous base engine.

What also makes a big difference is that Porsche managed to cut 120 pounds of weight out of this SUV. Having more power, more torque, less weight and staggered wheels and tire widths (which is new for the Cayenne) results in a delightful driving experience that’s sure to satisfy the enthusiast in you.

In my time driving the new Cayenne in Nappa Valley, California, I experienced winding roads through the redwoods, city driving and some long-distance, straight-line highway driving. This SUV never missed a beat and it was a pleasure to drive in all settings at all speeds. It truly delivered the performance you’d expect from a Porsche and it never felt like much of a sacrifice to be driving with the base engine rather than one of the higher-performance variants.

As for the other mechanicals, the new Cayenne now has a new 8-speed Tiptronic S transmission, which delivers quick, smooth shifts. Porsche also says this transmission is better for towing. All-wheel drive is standard, which is good for delivering well-balanced performance on dry roads and it’s a nice perk for extra traction in bad road conditions.

Daily Driver

Porsche is still kind of new to family haulers. There’s a lot that makes this new Cayenne a fantastic family car. Sometimes there’s a surprising lack of room in the back seat of midsize SUVs in this class, but that’s not the case with the Cayenne. It’s sized very well by having plenty of room in the back seat for adults and children alike without the car being too big overall. That roomy passenger space doesn’t sacrifice cargo space and there’s actually 15 percent more cargo room in the new Cayenne compared to the previous generation.

The Porsche Communications Management infotainment system is one of the good ones in the business. You get a vibrant 12.3-in screen in the center stack and it’s extremely customizable, which we always like to see. As for the dash, there’s an analog tachometer in the middle flanked by two 7-in screens displaying pretty much whatever information you want to see. Using one as a navigation screen is very convenient.

There was one glaring standard feature missing on the base Porsche Cayenne. When I first got on the highway, I quickly noticed that adaptive cruise control was absent. Adaptive cruise is an option, but on a luxury SUV with a starting MSRP of $65,700, that’s something we’d like to see as standard.

The Porsche of SUVs

Ever since it first came out, the idea of the Cayenne was to marry Porsche driving dynamics to real-world practicality in a package that makes for a well-balanced daily driver. The previous Cayennes were good, but this new third-gen model takes that idea and improves on it even further. From behind the wheel, you’ll never forget that you’re in a Porsche.

The 2019 Porsche Cayenne does an excellent job providing an exciting driving experience in a premium setting as you’d expect from any Porsche. The fact that it also gives you all the functionality of a midsize crossover with a roomy cabin and standard AWD make it a Porche for the whole family that you can drive every day.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

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