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The 2017 Cayenne brings the attitude, and many of the visual cues, of Porsche's sports cars to a very family-friendly, sport-utility format. The lineup is varied, with the naturally aspirated base model, the turbocharged S, the S E-Hybrid plug-in, the amped up GTS, the incredibly powerful Turbo, and the even loonier Turbo S. The base engine is not turbocharged. Its 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 is capable of getting this SUV to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds. Is it a Porsche? You decide.
The other engines deliver plenty of power. The Cayenne S is rated at 420 horsepower from a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6. The Cayenne GTS raises the output from the twin-turbo V-6 to 440 hp and 445 lb-ft. Porsche says this model can rocket from 62 mph from rest in as little as 5.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 162 mph. The Cayenne S E-Hybrid, with plug-in capability, is good for 416 hp from its combination of an electric motor and a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6.
Today the 2017 Cayenne is a sleek, modern utility-vehicle at the core, but its silhouette manages to crib just a few of the 911's curves and details. There's very little rugged about this design—even though it's still deft off-pavement. Up front, it features the quad-element headlight design seen on the rest of the lineup. In back, there's only a gentle hat-tip to Porsche's sports cars, with subtle hatch spoilers and an upright-yet-aerodynamic look. Because of its size and necessary shape, however, the overall look is far cry from the design of Porsche's legendary sports cars, like the iconic 911. The hood is a bit longer than on some other crossover models. In any of the 2017 Cayenne models, compared to virtually any other tall utility, handling is exemplary. Plus, you get excellent steering feel (relative to other SUVs), surprisingly little body roll, and immense cornering traction—especially from the huge wheels and tires that you get in the Cayenne S, Cayenne Turbo, and Turbo S versions.
Ride quality is excellent when you opt for the air-suspension system and PDCC. With them, the suspension can adapt to driving conditions or driving style, and you can dial in Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes, which affect the suspension and powertrain responses together.
Porsche remains a sports-car maker by reputation, but in reality it's as much, if not more, a luxury brand. And the Cayenne remains one of the brand's better luxury showcases—even though in any of its higher-performance forms it's no slouch.