We are clinging to our 8 year old 120K+ mile van desperately, hoping to squeeze a few more years out of it with the thought of perhaps getting a hybrid SUV and dread having to buy a new vehicle. I find it unbelieveable that people would actually pay this much money for a mode of transportation! They say this model SUV appeals to women. Do women think they will impress a man because they are driving a Porsche? (Not the kind of equal opportunity I'm looking for.) It wouldn't work on the men I'd try to impress--they'd go running in the opposite direction away from this sticker price. Spicy and pricey indeed!
This from the New York Times Weekend...
Behind The Wheel | 2008 Porsche Cayenne
Still Extra Chunky, Now More Spicy
By JERRY GARRETT
Published: June 24, 2007
SOME Porsche purists are still horrified that the sports car company branched out into sport utility vehicles. But let’s get real: if a Porschephile’s transportation needs call for an S.U.V., why should she, or he, have to shop elsewhere?
The newly redesigned Porsche Cayenne, which first appeared as a 2003 model, remains a study in contrasts. It is, with apologies to 914 devotees, the ugliest Porsche ever. Yet, for an S.U.V., it is comparatively handsome. Maybe that is why it appeals to so many women.
Fully equipped, the 2008 Cayenne can price out as the most expensive S.U.V. this side of Baghdad. But ounce for ounce, a 5,191-pound Cayenne is the most Porsche that money can buy — especially the base model, which starts at a mere $44,295, including the $895 shipping charge. In fact, you can buy two base Cayennes for what a top-line Turbo model costs and have change left over.
But what exactly would a fully loaded Cayenne look like? I counted 107 possible options for the Cayenne (some, like multiple wheel choices, are duplications). There are also 10 paint colors, at least 4 leather combinations and 3 powertrain possibilities. So, considering all that, how high can the sticker price go?
“I don’t have such a figure,” Gary Fong of Porsche, who manages the company’s fleet of test cars, said by e-mail message. “But since the Cayenne Turbo has so many standard features that are optional on the other Cayenne models, there’s not a lot you can add. I’ve configured some loaded Cayenne Turbos over the years and never cracked $109K. Running the options through my head, and barring the custom tailoring offerings, I’d say the max would be between $110K and $115K.”
It is safe to assume that Porsche is making a fair profit on these things, even when they lack some options, although how much is not clear. Recent buyers of close-out 2006 models (there was no 2007 model year) have reported getting discounts of up to $30,000 off the sticker. So there would seem to be some wiggle room on price. I tested two versions of the redesigned vehicle. My Cayenne Turbo test vehicle, laden with a mere $13,000 in options, priced out at $106,595. That was without extravagances like the panoramic glass roof ($3,900), two-tone leather interior ($1,510), leather-trimmed air vents ($2,160) and matching leather keyfob holder ($95).
I also tested the bargain-basement model, which is simply called Cayenne. Potential shoppers should note that this version comes not with a V-8 engine like the S, or the twin-turbo V-8 of the Turbo, but a V-6 engine supplied by Volkswagen. While the 6-cylinder model might seem to be aimed at those conflicted people who are in the market for a slow Porsche, it is actually quite competent, if not overwhelming.
At least the V-6 has benefited from a significant upgrade for 2008. What had been an unworthy 3.2-liter power plant is now 3.6 liters and makes 290 horsepower — some 15 percent more than before. (This, by the way, is more than the advertised horsepower rating for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution rally rocket.)
Another redeeming feature: Cayennes with the V-6 are the only ones available with manual (six-speed) transmissions. The manual comes at no extra cost, but to get it, you have to check that box on the order form.
So it would seem that the six-speed Tiptronic S automatic, the only transmission offered on the S or the Turbo, would be standard equipment on the base model, but it is not. Porsche actually charges $3,000 extra for that transmission on the base model. Go figure.
My base-level test model also lacked Porsche Active Suspension Management, a set of suspension controls and commands including an electronic ride control system that continuously adjusts the traction and the damping at each wheel.
Along with the electronic stability control, it intervenes to override a driver’s worst excesses, for better or worse. In fact, a lot of enthusiasts think the system is too intrusive.
In my test-driving, the base Cayenne was fairly economical (22 m.p.g. on the highway) yet peppy, responsive and more nimble than its pricier brethren — particularly in low-speed maneuvers like parking. It is easily the most driver-involving choice in the Cayenne lineup.
Over all, the 2008 Cayenne benefits from freshened styling, slicker aerodynamics and more user-friendly ergonomics. Technically, this is a new-generation S.U.V., but it is hardly a clean-sheet-of-paper redesign.
The Cayenne still shares its structure with the Volkswagen Touareg, and this not particularly people-friendly people-hauler still comes in just one rather confining size, with two rows of seats that accommodate as many as five passengers. Rear legroom remains cramped. Rearward and side-to-side visibility are not noteworthy. The cargo area is relatively small at 19 cubic feet, though it can be expanded by folding down the second-row seats. It lacks a third-row seat. The load floor is too high.
Though it may not haul cargo, it will haul, um, the bacon.
The superb dual-range all-wheel-drive system, precise steering and stout brakes give the Cayenne surprising dexterity both on and off road. Its low-profile speed-rated tires limit its ability to go rock-crawling, but it is possible for Cayenne to navigate all manner of terrain into which a sane person should never, ever take a $100,000 vehicle.
An optional off-road package adds a locking rear differential, hydraulically disconnecting stabilizer bars and skid plates. Active antiroll bars are now available on models with the air suspension.
A new Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control system works with the optional air suspension to hydraulically limit body roll through turns. The system also improves driver control by isolating the steering — not to mention the cabin — from the jolts of undulating surfaces. The chassis control system is a big upgrade in handling and performance dynamics. It really works.
But it is a $3,150 option. Ouch! And there is more. The special air suspension needed for the chassis control comes standard only on the more expensive Turbo model and is optional on the base and S — so the total price for both systems on each of those models is a staggering $6,500.
This raises a fundamental question: Why should a Porsche buyer have to pay extra for optimal handling? Anyone who owns a Porsche has a right to expect nothing less.
The dynamic chassis control is one of two crucial improvements that most differentiate the new Cayenne from the first generation. The other is new, more-powerful engines, including the only Porsche V-8s on the planet.
In the base model, the enhancements don’t cost extra. But the S and Turbo models now have starting prices thousands of dollars higher than in the first generation. The 4.8-liter V-8 in the $60,795 Cayenne S has been juiced for a horsepower rating of 385 — up 45 from last year’s S.
The $94,595 Cayenne Turbo has a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V-8 with an added 50 horsepower. Total output is now a positively sociopathic 500 horses (and 516 pound-feet of torque). Porsche says highway fuel economy is up 15 percent for the Cayenne S and 11 percent for the Turbo, thanks to new direct fuel injection.
The Turbo is such a rocket, it sometimes felt as if it could overpower its chassis; I didn’t find it particularly fun to drive. Once the neighborhood slammers have been trounced in stoplight drag races, ennui sets in. The Turbo begins to seem like a bully without a cause.
Hard-core enthusiasts who don’t need grocery-hauling capability or the continual company of their four closest friends might find longer-term happiness in a Cayman.
All the changes do add up to a spicier blend of Cayenne. If you are rich enough not to care about Porsche’s pricing schemes, the ’08 Cayenne is truly a remarkable performer. My advice would be to buy the slick-handling base model and hide the window sticker.