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2005 Porsche Cayenne Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle

New Car Review of the 2005 Porsche Cayenne Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle

Base MSRP Range: $41,100-$89,300

Base Invoice Range: $35,808-$78,007

MSRP As Tested: $65,470

Versions: 3.2-liter Cayenne; 4.5-liter Cayenne S, 4.5-liter Cayenne Turbo

Vehicle Category: Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: All-Wheel Drive.

Standard Engine: 3.2-liter, Single Overhead Cam, 24-valves, V-6, 247- horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 229 lb-ft torque at 2,500 rpm.

Optional Engine Cayenne S: 4.5-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 32-valves, V-8, 340 - horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 310 lb-ft torque at 2,500 rpm.

Optional Engine Cayenne Tourbo: 4.5-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 32-valves, Turbocharged V-8, 450 - horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 457 lb-ft torque at 2,250 to 4,750 rpm.

Transmission: Standard six-speed manual, Six-speed automatic with Tiptronic.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): Six-speed manual 15/20, Six-speed automatic standard 15/19, Six-speed automatic S 14/18, Six-speed automatic Turbo 13/18.

Standard Safety Features: Dual front airbags, two side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags; seat belt pretensioners, front seat belt-force limiters; electronically-latching rear tailgate; ">Antilock Brake System; Electronic Stability Control; Porsche Side Impact Protection (PSIP); four-wheel independent suspension; Porsche Traction Management (PTM); Porsche Stability Management (PSM); anti-theft system with immobilizer and interior sensor; lower anchors and tethers for children; optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), standard in Cayenne Turbo; Porsche Drive-Off Assistant.

Competition: Audi A6 Avant, BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti FX, Volkswagen Touareg.


Porsche once again impresses with its ability to combine original style, innovative safety features, and good old-fashioned fun in its 2005 Cayenne, Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo models. First introduced in North American in 2003, the new Cayenne boasts upgraded safety features and makes previously-optional goodies standard. It is proclaimed as an SUV engineered to provide "on-pavement driving dynamics similar to the Porsche 911." That's a bit of a stretch, but it’s still a fantastic ride. Porsche split the Cayenne into three models this year: the Cayenne, the S and the Turbo.

The luxurious interior and smooth-talking exterior give the Cayenne a classic Porsche feel, which is nicely complimented by its up-to-the-minute technology.

This SUV is one with staying power, both in the new and previously-owned markets, thanks to its refined and sophisticated stance.

But all this will cost you a fair amount; that’s something to take into consideration when similarly-equipped vehicles, such at Volkswagen's V8 Touareg, cost thousands less.


The aerodynamic hood sits lower than those of most SUVs, and the bumper is at the same height as that of a passenger car. Both of these help drop the center of gravity, and, claims Porsche, also helps to minimize damage to other cars in the event of a collision. The Cayenne's exterior is streamlined and elegantly simple. Those famous Porsche-style headlights look simultaneously tough and sophisticated; optional bi-xenon headlights emphasize this. Tinted windows - which are rimmed in classy silver on the Turbo - provide privacy and style. The rear fenders flare like the VW Touareg, only in a sexier, look-at-the-sway-these-hips kind of way. The Cayenne's not as hunched as the Infiniti FX SUV, but it is also not as straight-backed as Land Rover's Range Rover. The Porsche Cayenne is sleek, minimalist, tough, elegantly brawny, and oozes sex appeal.

All models of the Cayenne offer a choice of three solid, and eight metallic paint colors. Turbo buyers can opt for the color of their choice, applied at the factory, for an additional charge.

These go over a fully-galvanized, high-quality steel, Unibody frame that is safer, sturdier, and lighter than the typical body-on-chassis construction. Unibody helps push the engine up underneath the passenger compartment in the event of a collision, essentially making the cabin a safety capsule.

New for 2005 is the optional Sport Design Package, which includes a front apron, updated sill covers, an extended rear wing, and a rear apron providing room for the four-tube, sport exhaust system. Combined, these give the upgraded vehicle a look that Porsche defines as "more aggressive."

Also new for 2005 is the black monochrome, exterior option, with black door handles and rear hatch molding. The Turbo takes it a step further with roof rails finished in black.

The standard wheels are 18-inch alloys (19- or 20-inch wheels are optional) and the 255/55 R18 tires can also be upgraded to high performance, all-terrain or winter-weather tires. Returning is the option for a rear-mounted spare tire.


The Cayenne’s interior comes standard with leather seats. Customize the interior by choosing from two leather-quality options, four seat colors, and roof lining and carpet colors.

The seats are very comfortable, and solid providing ample support for cornering at high speeds. Twelve-way adjustable, power seats leave driver and front passenger in control of their own comfort. This comfort is further enhanced with a four-way, adjustable air-conditioning system, and optional heated seats. Even the glove compartment is air-conditioned.

Titanium-look trim accentuates the simple, sophisticated style of the interior, along with unusual, but convenient, grip handles on either side of the shifter. The grips provide an extra place to grab onto when white-knuckle driving off-road.

The instrument panel is as functional as it is stylish. Trimmed in black on the base Cayenne, the dials are rimmed in silver on the S and Turbo models. The three-spoke, multi-function steering wheel, as always, bears the Porsche crest, and give the driver control of the audio system, cruise control, and more. In the Cayenne, convenience and safety meet harmoniously in its interior design.

The sound system doesn’t disappoint with a huge, 12-speaker system positioned for surround sound. For an enhanced audio experience consider the optional 14-speaker Bose system.

Of course everything is powered, including doors, windows and mirrors. The cargo area, while small at 19.07 cubic feet, jumps to 62.51 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down. These same seats have a 60/40 split.

Porsche Communication Management (PCM) is optional but gives the driver supreme control over the navigation system, alternate routes, and is easy to use. Along with an AM/FM radio, CD and DVD player, the PCM features dynamic route navigation, a trip computer and navigation system - all controllable from a 12-digit keyboard and full-color, 6.5-inch, in-dash monitor. Buyers can opt to add SIRIUS or XM satellite radio systems, as well.

This is without a doubt the classiest, most comfortable Porsche interior on the market today.


Porsches are known for their superior performance, and the Cayenne operates more like a car than almost any other Sport-Ute on the market.

Dropping the “S” and a few horsepower, the ‘05 base Cayenne comes Standard with a 3.2-liter, V6 that pumps out 247-horsepower and 229 lb.-ft. of torque. Though the V6 is a little low on grunt (when compared to the other two engines), its six-speed, manual transmission does make it possible to use most of that power very efficiently, so its ride is fun too. At this level the VW Touareg and the Cayenne compete neck in neck.

The Cayenne is high tech in every aspect, and its safety features - ones other manufacturers charge excessive prices for - come standard on even the base model. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that the Cayenne’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system reduces fatal, single-vehicle crash risk by about 56 percent, make it an appealing choice for families and thrill seekers alike.

The Cayenne S and Turbo each house beefy 4.5-liter, V8 engines with Dual Overhead Cams in both. The Cayenne S ups the horsepower to 340 at 6,000 RPM and boosts the torque to 310 lb.-ft. The turbo-charged model gives drivers 450 ponies at 6,000 RPM to play with. With 460 lb.-ft. of torque, the Turbo throws you back into your seat for a thrilling ride on winding roads.

The Cayenne S provides a Tiptronic transmission system. The system enables the driver to shift gears at the RPM of their choice, using small paddles on the back of the steering wheel to change gears, like an F1 race car.

There is no clutch pedal to operate, and it’s a blast to use with fast shifting. The superior manumatics of this type are BMW’s Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) and Audi’s Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG.) We would love to see the Audi DSG in the Cayenne. Now that would be something!

Ride and Handling

The Cayenne has a smooth ride that comes from a low center of gravity, and safety features keep the wheels on the pavement. Most rollover accidents occur when a driver attempts to avoid a hazard and loses control during a panic maneuver because they over-correct for the situation and increase the vehicle’s instability. The folks at “Porsche Driving Experience” (PDE) at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, demonstrated how the Cayenne’s safety features help with wet and dry handling, on both a wet and a dry skid pad. The instructors from PDE Barber also had us tow a Porsche 911 around on a trailer to show how these features prevent nightmares like jack-knifing and rollover. PDE also simulated an emergency lane change-maneuver and panic stops on wet and dry pavement, revealing Cayenne’s ability to right itself, even when the driver doesn’t have time to think about anything but getting out of the way.

Those electronic aids make the SUV more car-like, eliminating the complexities and discomfort of driving a large vehicle off-road. But this doesn’t relieve the driver of responsibility - one still needs to know how to handle an SUV on challenging terrain. We always recommend that owners take classes from professional drivers who can teach them the limits, capabilities and all the fun things to do with their cars. Porsche offers PDE at their track. Professional drivers teach participants to push the limits of their Porsches, and then get them back under control.

Knowing what it feels like when your car is losing grip, or about to roll, is best experienced in a controlled situation rather than on rough or challenging tracks.

Though getting behind the wheel of Porsche’s SUV is definitely a unique driving experience, it costs a hefty $42,200 (MSRP) for the base model Cayenne. And filling it with premium gasoline is a must, and will be a regular occurrence as the truck gets only 19 MPG on the highway.

But above all, Cayenne is an exquisite technologic marvel. Oh, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.


The Cayenne provides a plethora of standard safety features: Antilock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Porsche Traction Management (PTM), Porsche Stability Management (PSM), Porsche Site Impact Protection and airbags that deploy from just about every direction. Its highly-touted ESC system monitors, among many other things, the driver’s speed, vertical axis of rotation - which helps to avoid spinouts - individual tire rotation and engine speed, and side-to-side acceleration.

It takes over control of the vehicle when it detects a problem, applying the disc brakes to individual wheels as needed to prevent collisions in just about every conceivable way.

ABS should come standard on every vehicle in the US, and Cayenne takes it a step further incorporating ABS into its other systems. This forms a string of safety features working together to keep the truck on the road, and the passengers out of harm’s way. Cayenne’s ABS and PSM determine when to apply the brakes to the individual wheels so the SUV keeps going in a straight line during a panic stop. Introduced in 1998, the PSM system controls the wheels separately so all four tires stay in contact with the road. This maintains the critical contact patches with the ground.

Whether on a bumpy road, a backwoods trail, or a racetrack, these systems keep all four wheels on the ground in an optimal manner. This also makes for a much more comfortable ride for passengers.

In Conclusion

All versions of the Porsche Cayenne are tempting choices based on their safety features alone. But the beauty of the design is irresistible.

The elegance of the vehicle gives an appealing new twist to Porsche ownership. Its off-road capability competes well with other luxury SUVs, and has that special Porsche cache’.

Cayenne does not have a third-row of seating. But we don’t consider that a drawback, as so few people need or actually ever use them; that cramped back row never fits an adult anyway. And the third row in SUVs is often a dangerous location to sit. Headroom is often low exposing the passenger to head and neck injuries. Sometimes the seats are not as strong as the second row. And being close to the backend of a vehicle means potential injury if the vehicle is hit from behind.

The price tag, even on the base Cayenne, is steep, making its sister, the VW Touareg with the V8 engine, a more affordable option. But then there is that Porsche cache…

Previously-owned or leased Cayennes are becoming more prevalent in the market. Interested buyers should be patient and look into deals on used Cayennes. The prices will be closer to the sister-product the VW Touraeg.

When you can buy a Porsche for the price of a VW, try the Porsche. With so many safety features and so much style, the Cayenne has staying power, and will retain value better than the competition. Cayenne is indeed, one very spicy ride.

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 8
  • Performance: 9
  • Price: 7
  • Handling: 9
  • Ride: 9
  • Comfort: 9
  • Quality: 8
  • Overall: 8.4

More Data

Where Built: Germany, Finland

Major Options: Leather upholstery, Porsche Active Suspension Management, Cayenne Sport Design Wheels, All-season tires, Bi-xenon headlights, Satellite radio, Panoramic power sunroof, Navigation system, Tire-pressure monitor, Rearview camera.

Seating: 5.

Number of Rows: 2

Length in Inches: 188.3

Warranties: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper, 10 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection, 4 years/50,000 miles Roadside assistance.

Weight in Pounds: 4949 - 5115 lbs.

Cargo Capacity in Pounds: 1598 - 1797 lbs.

Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: Not available.

Towing Capacity in Pounds: 6790.

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 26.2

Destination Charge: $795