Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid

Style

Auto critics consistently rank the Porsche Cayenne among the best luxury, mid-size SUVs—alongside the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Lexus RX 350, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class. The Cayenne is arguably the most handsome in this class.

The tell-tale stylistic feature of the plug-in Cayenne is the Acid-Green (or yellow) calipers gripping the carbon-ceramic brakes. The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo E-Hybrid comes standard with 21-inch wheels with body-color wheel-arch extensions.

You can get the plug-in Cayenne as a conventional mid-size SUV or a sportier coupe with a down-sloping rear end, rear spoiler, and a rear-seat bench with two individual seats. The coupe also offers the choice of a fixed glass roof or carbon roof.

In either form, the Cayenne’s beefy stance, a muscular hood, and broad side-to-side grille give it an aggressive stance. The rear bumper integrates its quad tailpipes. LED lighting accents the front and back of the Cayenne.

The Acid-Green theme continues with the vehicle badging, and the dashboard gauge needles. The interior leather trim comes in a wide selection of colors. There are a couple of new wheel designs and upgraded seats with optional massage function.

Performance

The Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid’s official time to reach 60 miles per hour is 4.7 seconds. That’s a feat for a 5,000-pound SUV. Pushing the Cayenne E-Hybrid to that level of acceleration doesn’t happen with electricity alone, although the 134-horsepower electric motor (with 295 pound-feet of torque) is a capable machine. Instead, the Cayenne regularly utilizes the six-cylinder gas-powered engine.

Drivers wanting a pure electric experience might struggle to feather the accelerator before hitting kick-down point on the pedal, representing the limit of all-electric driving. Highway speeds of about 80 miles per hour will undoubtedly wake up the gas engine.

When both gas and electric forms of motivation are brought online, the total system puts out 455 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. At the same time, the Cayenne E-Hybrid remains nimble, providing excellent ride quality. An eight-speed automatic transmission allows you to feel shifting gears.

You should expect in most circumstances to use the Cayenne’s Hybrid mode—accessing energy from both the gas engine and battery pack. You also have the option of an E-Hold mode for saving battery power for later—or E-Charge to utilize some gasoline to recharge the battery pack.

Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid

The Cayenne E-Hybrid is made for performance rather than efficiency. So if you’re in Sport or Sport+ mode, the system will automatically use gasoline to recharge the battery up to at least 30 percent. After about 10 minutes of through-the-road charging, you’ll have enough juice in the battery to unleash all 455 ponies.

Reviewers have mixed emotions about the plug-in Cayenne’s braking feel. EV fans, who are fond of heavy regenerative braking, say the Cayenne’s braking isn’t engaging enough unless the vehicle is in Sport or Sport+ mode. Traditionalists complain that the brake pedal has a short travel distance—and that you can feel the point when the brakes switch from regenerative to mechanical braking.

Be careful when reading reviews of the plug-in Cayenne to distinguish between the E-Hybrid without an S—and the Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

The base 455-hp Cayenne E-Hybrid has more than enough power for daily driving, including fun launches and aggressive highway maneuvers. But if that’s not enough for you, there’s the $163,000 S E-Hybrid that combines the same 134-hp electric motor with a monster 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8. The result is a mind-boggling 670 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque.

The S E-Hybrids come standard with the equipment necessary to handle its power. Standard gear includes carbon-ceramic brakes, active anti-roll bars, torque vectoring, air suspension, active dampers, and a Sport Chrono package. Rear steering is optional.

Reviewers believe the S E-Hybrid is a thrill for the open road or twisty backroads. But they warn that its overwhelming power is not well suited to day-to-day commutes, especially in heavy traffic.

Efficiency/Range

The latest Cayenne E-Hybrid expands its battery pack from 10.8 kilowatt-hours to 14.1 kWh. That should be good for about 13 miles of all-electric range—although official EPA numbers are not yet available.

With the evolution of the vehicle and more electric range, we expect to see modest gains to perhaps 50 MPGe with electricity and 22 MPG for the remaining 450 or so miles of total driving range.

If you want to push the envelope of both performance and efficiency, consider the Tesla Model X. The EPA indicates that the 2019 Tesla Model X P100D SUV has an efficiency of 85 MPGe and a driving range of 289 miles. At the same time, it can hit 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds.

Charging

The Cayenne plug-in hybrids come standard with a 3.6-kilowatt onboard charger. That should replenish an empty battery to full in about four hours. The gas engine kicks in to keep the battery charged to about 30 percent, so you are unlikely to return home with an empty battery. Expect a full recharge in less than three hours.

An optional $840 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger will roughly cut charging times in half. Porsche says a full recharge at 7.2 kilowatts happens in about 2.5 hours.

A trickle charge from a standard 120-volt socket should take about six hours. Porsche does not offer fast-charging for a battery for Cayenne plug-in hybrids. That wouldn’t make sense for a 14.1-kWh battery pack.

Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid

Passenger/Cargo Room

The Cayenne is a comfortable, luxury vehicle with the high-end appointments you would expect from Porsche. It rides relatively high like an SUV, rather than sports car. You have the choice of Sports or Comfort seats. Passenger volume is 107 cubic feet with 23 cubes for cargo. With the rear seats folded, the Cayenne E-Hybrid provides an ample 56.6 cubic feet of storage.

The Cayenne plug-in hybrid replaces the conventional speedometer with a power meter and battery state-of-charge indicator.

The Porsche Communication Management infotainment system, accessed by a 12.3-inch touchscreen, is full-featured and easy to use.

The list of standard driver assistance features is limited to a backup camera and automatic emergency braking. Upgrades include adaptive cruise control (to a complete stop), lane-keeping, blind-spot monitoring, parking assist, and night vision.

Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have not tested the plug-in Cayenne. The vehicle comes standard with dual front and rear side airbags, emergency braking assist, traction and stability control, and dynamic lighting.

Price

The 2019 E-Hybrid starts at about $82,000, excluding destination charges and before a $6,712 federal tax credit.

The 2020 Turbo S E-Hybrid starts at about $163,000. It goes on sale in the first quarter of 2020.

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $82000
Est. tax credit: $6700
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: SUV
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 13 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 14 kWh
Charging rate: 3.6 kW

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