Few utilities can challenge the Porsche Cayenne when it comes to street performance. But today, even luxury brand buyers are putting better fuel economy at the top of their must have lists. And while Porsche already offers a hybrid Cayenne, U.S. Porsche buyers prefer a more European approach to fuel saving, and they’ve been begging Porsche to bring the Cayenne Turbo Diesel to the States. Well, their wishes have finally been granted!
The 2013 Cayenne Diesel is Porsche’s first American diesel offering. And while many of us scoffed at Porsche’s entry into the SUV ranks with the original Cayenne, it has proved to be incredibly popular, even becoming their top selling model.
So what does a turbocharged diesel V6 add to the Cayenne? Well, a whole lot of torque and a whole lot of range. Fill up the larger 26.4-gallon tank, and you can cruise for over 700-miles before you’ll need to refuel. But surprisingly, the Diesel does not get you more towing ability; it remains at 7,716-pounds. And, with a higher curb weight, payload weight actually drops.
So, the Cayenne Diesel is chiefly about the Government Fuel Economy Ratings, which are 19-City, 29-Highway, and 23-Combined, which actually beats the Cayenne Hybrid by 2. We did even better at 29.4 miles-per -gallon. The Energy Impact Score remains below average however, at 16.6-barrels of oil consumed per year and annual CO2 emissions of 7.4-tons.
The Diesel’s 406 lb-ft. of torque, and 240-horsepower, are from a 3.0-liter turbo V6. Extra weight is moderated by using a compacted graphite iron block and aluminum heads. The Diesel doesn’t have automatic stop/start like other Cayennes, and that’s just fine by us; and the permanent all-wheel-drive system has an automatic locking center differential. The 8-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox does come with proper Porsche steering wheel shifters.
To meet emissions standards, the diesel uses a Selective Catalytic Reduction system with Adblue urea injection. Otherwise, the Cayenne gets only very minor upgrades for 2013, mainly new door lock buttons and dash mounted analog clock, or you can opt for this cool digital compass. Who needs GPS?
Still, in our Cayenne, above the slopping Panamera-style center console, sits an optional navigation screen. The large, leather covered front bucket seats deliver extreme comfort with firm back and tall side support. Rear seats slide for added legroom and split 40/20/40 for flexibility between people and long cargo. On that, there’s 23.6 cubic-ft. of luggage space behind the rear seats and 62.9 cubic feet with all seats down. That’s a little less than the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Exterior styling is all Porsche and while unchanged for ‘13, the 911 inspired styling has aged well. 18-inch wheels are standard, up to 21’s optional.
But, it’s the 911-inspired performance that really sets the Cayenne apart, so we were anxious to see how it would translate in the Diesel……and we have few complaints to report. All of that torque off the line makes for a strong launch as it bolts to 60 in just 7.2-seconds. Quick, but still a second and a half slower than the last Cayenne S V8 that we tested. The quarter mile arrived in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour. Still impressive for an SUV.
As is typical with a diesel, shifts come early and often, and power seems to dissipate a little with each one. Slow and soft shifts didn’t help matters any. As expected, the diesel powertrain’s adds 320 pounds to curb weight, and it did have an effect on handling.
BEN DAVIS: The car turns in amazingly fast but there’s a weird bouncing sensation from the rear and at extreme times from the front too… Feels like the car is dribbling down the track.
JOHN DAVIS: Fortunately there was good steering feel and traction throughout our tests, and we do suggest ordering the adjustable air suspension option. Braking is still sports car worthy however, with an average stop of only 118-feet from 60.
In addition to the Diesel being less complex than the Cayenne Hybrid, it’s less pricey as well, starting at $56,725. That’s 14-grand less and better fuel economy to boot. Still, pricey options can easily push this luxo SUV north of 90-grand.
So, was the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel worth the wait? Well, if you’re looking for an SUV to be the chase car for your 911 Turbo, than the Cayenne Turbo is the best choice. But, if your idea of SUV performance is better-than-hybrid fuel economy, and super long range, but still with a Porsche experience, than this is the “ute” for you.
Engine: 3.0-liter turbo V6
Torque: 406 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.6 seconds @ 91 mph
EPA: 19 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 16.6 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.4 tons/yr