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2021 Porsche Cayenne
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The 2021 Porsche Cayenne is an SUV by design but a sports car by nature. This largest of Porsches provides a diverse range of powertrains that include a pair of proficient V-6s, a modern plug-in hybrid, and a thundering twin-turbo V-8. Of course, power is pointless if it isn't properly harnessed, and the Cayenne's innate athleticism and sublime handling traits ensure it lives up to the German brand's illustrious history. Its spacious interior is basically a canvas for customization thanks to Porsche's extensive roster of available options. While these features can quickly inflate its price, and we think some should be standard, at least they're discretional. Besides, the 2021 Cayenne—and its coupe counterpart (reviewed separately)—are mid-size luxury crossovers that fully engage driving enthusiasts. That makes them our favorite choice. Porsche spices up the 2021 Cayenne lineup with the return of the GTS model, which has a 460-hp twin-turbo V-8. Along with more desirable standard features, it'll also benefit from a lowered suspension and other performance hardware. The 2021 GTS is the top-of-the-line version of the regular Cayenne, but it's just as much a gateway to the high-powered Turbo variants (reviewed separately). The Cayenne E-Hybrid also introduces a larger battery that now boasts a capacity of 17.9 kWh versus 14.1. Porsche also says it changed the battery's state of charge to make more efficient use of the gas engine, which helps increase the life of the pack. The new GTS is a compelling option since it's the only non-Turbo variant with a V-8. However, we're very fond of the normal Cayenne, which is about $40,000 cheaper and still impressively quick. It already comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a 10-speaker stereo, and a Wi-Fi hotspot—among other popular equipment—and our preferred configuration would expand upon that with thoughtful options. We'd add the Premium package that includes 14-way power front seats, adaptive LED headlights, blind-spot monitoring, a more powerful Bose surround-sound system, hands-free passive entry, heated front seats, and a panoramic sunroof. We'd also optimize its on-road performance and off-road capabilities with the Sport Chrono package (expanded drive modes and launch control, the Off-Road package (extra underbody protection and additional displays), and the adaptive air suspension. Individual options that would improve its style and increase its luxury include a set of 20-inch wheels, four-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, massaging front seats, and soft-close doors. If you want more performance than the base Cayenne delivers, the Cayenne S offers an even zestier setup courtesy of its 434-hp twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6. It bolts to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. We haven't tested the plug-in hybrid model (called the E-Hybrid), but its electric motor and turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 make a combined 455 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Its 17.9-kWh battery pack can be charged via a standard 3.6-kW onboard charger or an optional 7.2-kW unit. The new GTS model boasts a 460-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that promises the best-sounding exhaust note and breathtaking acceleration. The available Sport Chrono package brings selectable drive modes and improves acceleration. All powerplants pair with an astute eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Porsche attempts to imbue every product with a particular set of skills—specifically those that cater to driving enjoyment. While making anything that weighs more than two tons move gracefully is challenging, the engineers in Stuttgart were successful with the Cayenne. The S model that we tested moved quietly and steadily at highway speeds before seamlessly transitioning to twisty sections, where it showcased surprising athleticism for its size. Most models wear standard 19-inch wheels, but they can be optioned up to 22 inches. The GTS rides on standard 21-inch rims and a lower suspension than the regular models. However, the versions we've tested with the largest rollers had reduced ride quality on uneven roads. Most models have performance options that include adaptive dampers with or without an adjustable air suspension, four-wheel steering for improved maneuverability, and active anti-roll bars for flatter cornering. The Cayenne's brakes can be upgraded to Porsche's tungsten-coated iron rotors (called Porsche Surface Coated Brakes, or PSCB) or costly carbon-ceramic stoppers. The base model we tested had neither setup nor still needed only 159 feet to stop from 70 mph.