The Macan may be Porsche’s best-selling vehicle, but it owes all of its success to the Cayenne. When the SUV began production in 2002, we all scoffed and claimed it would never work. But the vehicle’s success has had us feasting on crow for the last 15 years.

About to enter its third generation, the Cayenne doesn’t appear to have changed much at a glance. Appearances are often deceptive, however, and this would be a prime example of the phenomenon. For 2019, the SUV comes equipped with new engines, new brakes, a new transmission, and gobs of added tech.

Visually, Porsche says the “the new Cayenne retains a strong visual connection to its predecessors.” If that’s code for saying it looks nearly identical to the previous model and, by extension, all modern Porsches, then it wasn’t very difficult to decrypt. But the German automaker knows it has an incredibly well-established design language. It’s not about to shake things up for the sake of being different. 


The only obvious difference is the wider grille, which now appears as a more singular piece. There’s still three separate air dams, but the slats are positioned in a way that makes them look contiguous. Porsche is also outfitting the Cayenne with more lighting options and makes extensive use of LEDs.

Retaining the same wheelbase as its predecessor, the new model manages to squeeze 15-percent more cargo capacity behind its rear seats without sacrificing the familiar shape. However, that adds roughly 3 inches to the Cayenne’s overall length for a total of 194 inches.

Despite the increase in length, the Cayenne hasn’t gained any weight. Depending on the configuration, it can be as much as 143 pounds lighter than its outgoing counterpart. Weight distribution for the base model is approximately 55 percent front and 45 percent rear.


There’s more good news from beneath the hood. Porsche has furnished the 2019 model year Cayenne with your choice of two turbocharged V6 engines. The base unit is a 3.0-liter single-turbo mill with 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, while the Cayenne S offers a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 with 440 horsepower and 406 lb-ft.

According to Porsche, the base model should reach 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, or 5.6 with the Sport Chrono package. For the Cayenne S that number drops to 4.9 seconds and 4.6 seconds with Sport Chrono. From a performance perspective, that’s as good and better than the automaker’s current GTS-trimmed SUV.


All new Cayennes will come standard with an updated eight-speed Tiptronic transmission with quicker response times in lower gears. Porsche’s Traction Management all-wheel drive system also comes as standard and provides five traction settings, including four for “mild off-road terrain.”

The Cayenne will also have 911-inspired staggered wheel sizes. Although, why Porsche would bother on a front-engined SUV with off-road capabilities is unclear. Porsche did say the model was “designed to be the sports car within its segment.” But it also might just come down to how good it looks.

Suspension tech remains a cut above with aspects borrowed from the Panamera. Active suspension damping is standard, with optional three-chamber air suspension, active stabilizer bars, and rear wheel steering via Porsche’s dynamic chassis control package. 


Also improving performance is a novel braking technology that Porsche claims is first in the world. Available only as an option, these high-performance “Surface Coated Brakes” consist of a cast-iron disc with 70 micrometers of tungsten-carbide coating. The result is a mirror-like finish and superior performance with less wear and a longer lifespan.

Inside the cabin, the Cayenne borrows from the Panamera again with its new 12.3-inch touchscreen and black-glass capacitive control surfaces. The interface’s layout and organization can be customized, saving up to six individual profiles that recall cabin comfort setting, driving mode preferences, assistance technologies, and audio settings.


Driving assistance and safety upgrades are decent, including an optional thermal night vision system, lane change assist, lane keeping, traffic sign recognition, parking assist with surround view, and InnoDrive adaptive cruise with traffic jam crawling.

The 2019 Cayenne launches with a base price of $65,700, while S models start at $82,900. However, after an additional $1,050 destination charge and a laundry list of optional extras, you’ll soon be paying thousands more than you originally intended. Fortunately, you have until the summer of 2018 to save up.


[Images: Porsche]