For the first time since the model debuted in 2003, Porsche has redesigned their Cayenne, and as well as the standard gasoline-powered 2011 version, this model year also offers a hybrid version: the 2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid S.
For 2011, the Porsche Cayenne sports a streamlined design more in line with the other current line-up of Porsches, with particular attention to the design of the headlights. Even its Turbo version, while still featuring a bold front end and the largest air intakes across the line, looks less like a caricature of a sports car than the previous model. In addition, though the 2011 Cayenne seems smaller than the 2010 incarnation, it’s actually nearly two inches longer with a wheelbase that has grown by 1.6 inches, while still being 145 pounds lighter, thanks to the increased use of mileage-increasing aluminum.
Inside the 2011 Porsche Cayenne, you’ll find that surfaces which have seemed below par since this model’s inception have been upgraded. The interior “metal” trim is faux, but still looks good, and while the center-mounted grab handles that made the 2010 Cayenne so interesting have been retained, they’ve been mated to a high center console that rises to meet the dashboard.
The back seats have been re-designed to slide forward or backward almost six-and-a-half inches, which allows a choice between more space for passengers, and less for cargo, or more for cargo and less for passengers. The back seat still offers a 60-40 split, but now the backrests offer three recline settings.
Beneath the hood of the 2011 Porsche Cayenne your engine choices include a 3.6 liter, 300 horsepower V-6 in the base model, or a 4.8 liter, 400 horsepower V-8 in the S trim. The turbocharged Cayenne remains the same as last year’s model, at 500 hp, though Porsche says all version are about 20% more efficient than they were in 2010, due, in part, to an eight-speed automatic transmission and an automatic start/stop function. A manual transmission (six speeds) is only available in the base Cayenne.
Updates for the 2011 model year include a revision to the all-wheel-drive system (a standard feature) which eliminates the heavy reduction gearing of the 2010 Cayenne by adding a multiplate clutch, and while this vehicle is still off-road capable, it seems more on-road friendly than ever before. Other features include a locking differential and left-right torque vectoring on the rear axle, while there’s a three-mode (Comfort, Normal, Sports) adaptive suspension system available as an optional upgrade. The Turbo Cayenne comes standard with air springs, but these are optional on the S and base trims.
We’re not entirely sure that it makes sense to buy a hybrid Porsche, but if green is your thing, the 2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid S is said to be about forty percent more efficient than the 2010 Cayenne S (standard power). It’s powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter, 333-horsepower engine combined with a 47-horsepower electric motor and a 288-volt battery pack. It’s also fitted with a modified version of the eight-speed transmission it’s gas-powered brothers have, in the form of a step-gear automatic transmission.
The 2011 Cayenne Hybrid S can accelerate to 37 mph in all-electric mode, a speed comparable to other hybrid vehicles, but it also has the ability to shut down the engine completely for a coasting speed of up to 97 mph.
Front occupants of the 2011 Porsche Cayenne get airbags that protect at the front, knee, and side, with side curtain airbags for both front and back seats. Antilock disc brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control are standard, but there’s an optional blind spot warning system available for the extremely safety-conscious, as well.
The starting MSRP for the 2011 Porsche Cayenne ranges from $47,700 to $106,000 depending on the trim level and powertrain, and the fuel efficiency (such as it is) is 15-16 mpg in the city and 22-23 mpg on the highway.