The 2011 Porsche Cayenne. Click the above photo to see more pictures. (Michael Harley, Autoblog)

    by: Rex Roy | AOL Autos

    Question: What is Porsche's best-selling model?

    Could it be the iconic 911? Sorry. Perhaps the recently introduced Panamera sedan? Nope. Maybe the more affordable Boxster? Not even.

    The answer is the Cayenne SUV.

    Do you find anything odd about a two-ton SUV being the undisputed sales king of the German company known for making sports cars? While enthusiasts revel in the performance of the company's small sports cars and the brand's racing history, the fact is that Porsche is a business. It has employees that conceive of, design, build, and sell products.

    From a business perspective, Porsche is just a manufacturer of widgets, and for a company to remain a going concern, said company must sell widgets at a profit. Increasing the number of widgets is also smiled upon by shareholders. This is why Porsche builds the Cayenne: It's good business.

    Since its European introduction in 2002, the Cayenne has been Porsche's top sales performer, with more than 280,000 sold. According to insiders at Porsche, profits from the Cayenne helped fund the development of the most recent 911, Boxster, and Cayman models, as well as the Panamera. The SUV has been good for the company and ergo, good for enthusiasts who love the cars that make the company Porsche.

    With the onset of the 2011 model year, the Cayenne SUV would have been nearly as old as Methuselah himself (in car years), so it was time for something new. Porsche delivered; the entire vehicle is redesigned and the changes are significant.

    The 2011 Porsche Cayenne. Click on the above photo to see more pictures (Michael Harley, Autoblog)

    Rolling out this summer and fall, there are four distinct models and we've driven all of them: The base Cayenne with 300 horsepower, the Cayenne Hybrid S with 380 hp, the non-hybrid Cayenne S with 400 hp, and the mighty Cayenne Turbo with 500 horses.

    All New And Better For It

    Outside and in, the 2011 is so much better than the popular outgoing model that Porsche could have stopped with a new exterior and a duly revised interior. But they didn't.

    Under the new design, the new Cayenne is much more Porsche-like than the old. First, it's nearly 400 pounds lighter. This is significant and impacts the SUV's dynamic performance and fuel economy in a big way.

    There are two distinct suspensions: One uses conventional steel springs while the other is an air suspension marketed as the Porsche Active Suspension Management. A $3,000 option, we much preferred the air-assisted ride as it provides an exceptionally smooth and stable ride plus suspension settings that ranged from luxury car downy to sporty stiff.

    We marveled at the Auto-Stop function, not because we've never seen it before, but that this fuel-saving technology seemed out of character for a sports car company. This feature turns off the engine when the Cayenne is stopped in traffic and immediately re-starts as the driver lifts off the brake. Additionally, the audio and ventilation systems remain fully functional, as do all safety systems. This feature was necessary to meet new European Union C02 standards, so the Auto-Stop function is active unless the driver disables it. U.S.-bound Cayennes, however, don't have to meet the EU emissions standard, so the driver must activate the Auto Stop function when they feel like being frugal.

    The 2011 Porsche Cayenne. Click on the above photo to see more pictures (Michael Harley, Autoblog)

    Porsche's drive train project manager, Christian Heiselbetz, told us, "When we started the new Cayenne program several years ago, Americans weren't so concerned about fuel economy. We didn't think they'd value the feature, so we made it necessary for the driver to engage it. We think that we will reverse this in the future."

    The substantial diet and Auto-Stop function weren't the only things Porsche did to improve efficiency. Every Cayenne uses a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Having more gears saves fuel while delivering improved acceleration.

    All other Porsche models are available with the company's twin-clutch automated manual, the Porsche Doppelkupplung, PDK for short. The gearbox is known for its exceptionally quick shifting, and we asked why it wasn't fitted to the Cayenne. Heiselbetz explained, "The Cayenne is heaver than our other vehicles, plus it must have the ability to tow and drive off road. A torque converter (a component in the eight-speed conventional automatic transmission) is part of what makes those capabilities possible." The Cayenne is rated to tow 7,716 pounds, plus it has substantial off-road capabilities that are used by some drivers, especially those in the Middle East who dune surf.

    The Best Excuse Yet For Buying A Hybrid

    The performance of the 500-horsepower Cayenne Turbo didn't surprise anybody, but the on-track hustle of the most complex Cayenne ever did. When we got behind the wheel of the $67,700 Hybrid S, we felt as if we were sitting in the middle of the world's most harrowing compromise: A Porsche... that's also an SUV... and a hybrid. There must be a black hole for that sort of quandary.

    The Hybrid S uses a combination of a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and electric motor to crank out a combined 380-hp at 5,500-6,500 rpm and 428 lb-ft at just 1,000 rpm. The gasoline engine is supplied by Audi (a sister company of Porsche) and makes 333 horsepower on its own. The electric motor produces 47 horsepower, but more importantly, it alone produces peak torque of 300 lb-ft off idle, with half as much still available at 2,250 rpm. For the technically inclined, engineers don't add the individual power numbers of the gas engine and electric motor together because their power peaks occur at different speeds, making a blended figure for the complete hybrid powertrain a more accurate measure.

    The 2011 Porsche Cayenne. Click on the above photo to see more pictures (Michael Harley, Autoblog)

    This power enables the hybrid to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 6.1 seconds. This is only 0.6-seconds slower than the V8-powered Cayenne S. Conversely, the Hybrid S is 1.3-seconds faster to 60 mph than the base V6 Cayenne, but delivers significantly better fuel economy. Official estimates aren't available, but expect the Hybrid S to achieve in the low 20s city, with more than 23 mpg highway. When it comes time to brag about more than mpg, the Hybrid S has a top speed of 150 mph.

    On the road, the Hybrid S drives like a sporty V8 SUV with one exception. Porsche engineered a "sailing" function into the hybrid powertrain. Unlike most hybrids that use heavy regenerative braking to re-capture the kinetic energy for battery charging, when a driver lifts off the Cayenne's throttle, the SUV figuratively "sails" because there is almost no powertrain drag.

    What do you think of the 2011 Porsche Cayenne?

    To understand the concept, imagine driving 90 mph in a conventional SUV and putting an automatic transmission in Neutral. It's the same feeling, except in the Hybrid S, the SUV feels as if it might coast forever. By allowing the engine to shut down at speeds up to 97 mph, the hybrid system can save fuel even at highway speeds.

    In around town driving, the Hybrid S can motor up to 40 mph on battery power alone in ideal conditions. Expect 15-25 mph under most normal operating conditions and less if it's exceptionally warm or cold out.

    As for how it all works together, we expect most Hybrid S drivers will think it's cool. After all, they're not buying this Cayenne because they love pure Porsche performance.

    "People who want to drive a Cayenne don't want to be blamed by their neighbors for killing the world with C02. It's a pure business decision. Customers want it,” said Porsche’s Dr. Michael Leiters.

    Such thinking will secure that those who love the performance-focused 911, Boxster and Cayman will have new models in the pipeline. It's just business.

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    1 - 20 of 40 Comments
    DevAutos Aug 04, 2010 12:57 AM
    ford suck ass Porsche, and audi are the best
    Report This
    wmathess Aug 01, 2010 10:35 PM
    Who needs this piece of crap? My money is going in a 2010 Ford Expediton King Ranch!!!!
    Report This
    omarti007 Jul 31, 2010 7:50 PM
    New 2011 Cayenne much better looking than 2010... may have to trade new SRX for this new Cayenne.
    Report This
    anntindell Jul 28, 2010 6:05 PM
    I own a 2006 Cayenne which I bought new. I LOVE it. I now have over 124,000 miles on it and she is still going strong and still looks like a new car. I (obviously) am on the road alot & I feel very safe in my vehicle, which was a strong consideration to purchase. I'd rather pay more at the pump and raise the odds of my love ones and myself walking away from a crash than driving a tin can because it is cheap!! Some things are priceless. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!
    Report This
    fadychehade Jul 28, 2010 5:02 PM
    Valueline you need to get your faxes straight. I own one and it never been to the shop.
    Report This
    valuelines Jul 26, 2010 8:46 PM
    Over priced and just another run-of-the-mill SUV. The Cayenne it replaces was a dog and loaded with problems that Porsche tried to blame on its customers. Ask any Cayenne owner about how much time they spend in the shop. Who but an idiot would buy another overpriced monstrocity from Porsche. As usual, its overloaded with gismos that won't function after 6 months and just like the other Cayenne's, and its 8 speed transmission is almost guaranteed to be an electronic and mechanical nightmare. If you really need to, buy the badge and stick it on Mercedes or BMW. Nobody will be able to tell the difference.
    Report This
    crownedvicky Jul 26, 2010 5:43 PM
    it's obvious the people who put thumbs down didn't read the technical aspects...or bothered reading for that matter...i'm not the fondest of porshe but these are like miricals of engineering here...thumbs up...i mean this hybrid version is even cheaper than 2009's turbo gts
    Report This
    lewazzinaroillus Jul 25, 2010 9:24 PM
    i actually think porsche is an amazing car company that at least is trying to give it's customers what they actually want,...fast, semi-good on gas mileage, and SEXY!...why do you morons think the company has been the benchmark by which most other sportscars are measured?[with the possible exception of ferrari-they ARE the benchmark],...listen,...if people are able to afford these cars, more power to them,...stop whining you bunch of jealous losers,...and go out and work hard so you can have one one day too! most people who bitch and moan about cars like porsche are a bunch of sorry ass losers who will never know the joy of driving one of the worlds premier automobiles,...so there,...that about covers it,..huh?
    Report This
    brokercim Jul 18, 2010 3:39 PM
    If you can afford one, you should have one if if you desire it. I have one and a 911(1969)E and love to drive them both. Brokercim
    Report This
    mrdrjim Jul 18, 2010 5:42 AM
    UGLY, UGLY, UGLY car.
    Report This
    raudcliffe Jul 18, 2010 4:36 AM
    Whats the rave it gives 23 miles to the gallon. If it is not over 50 miles to the gallon it is still a gas guzzler
    Report This
    iharbison07 Jul 18, 2010 2:14 AM
    This car looks amazing, ******** very expensive. My brother's friend got a "pimped out" (West Coast Customs) Cayenne for her 16th birthday. Lucky.
    Report This
    neilm82 Jul 18, 2010 2:00 AM
    these things take a while to get use to seeing! still cant believe porsche has an suv-that is also a vw and an audi! each has their own identity! its different, but in a cool way!
    Report This
    punnster Jul 18, 2010 1:03 AM
    Electric cars will add to drain on our power grids. Many are subject to brown and black outs. How will they charge up those cars then? Gas burning generators?
    Report This
    sgamble335 Jul 18, 2010 1:03 AM
    Gotta luv people who state their claim to gas mileage but yet they own a car (well not to intelligent i know). However, I have a new Mercedes SUV that runs 0-60 in 6.45 seconds on premium gas yes but no hybrid!!! Yes SUV and yes rated by the new EPA standards!!! That is apples to apples comparison please have a little brains to compare an SUV with an SUV not your cars jack a@@s!!
    Report This
    dondkimhs Jul 18, 2010 12:49 AM
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    bsportsgy Jul 18, 2010 12:28 AM
    I just have one thing to say my Cavalier gets better gas mileage than this car and it isn't a hybrid i get 32 miles to the gallon and about 28 in the city so if they can build a hybrid that gets 50 miles to the gallon im not interested in it sorry
    Report This
    nothingtangible Jul 17, 2010 11:55 PM
    The mileage of this is pretty bad for a normal auto engine... it is ridiculous to have such poor mileage from a hybrid! I guess this is reasonable for the Hummer crowd, they get to pretend they care about the environment because it's a HYBRID that sucks the gas down. Back in the 1980's vehicles getting 30 MPG were commplace, what happened to that very basic technology?! Back in the mid 60's we had an Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight... it was basically a tank diguised as a luxury vehicle. It had an engine nearly 500 cu. in. and put out some 400HP... even that got 15-18 MPG!
    Report This
    goldengodess Jul 17, 2010 11:54 PM
    Barf. I want a Tesla. NO filthy, digusting, death dealing gas, made in America, and sexy sexy sexy. Tesla is the only car company that isnt selling you out to Arabs and oil companies.
    Report This
    politicalmo Jul 17, 2010 11:47 PM
    In the words of John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious!!" Anyone buying this fool's article as a breakthrough has lost their mind. The Japanese have the Honda Lite that gets over 60 mpg. Nikkola Tesla ran an experiment in 1931 onj a Pierce Arrow (a luxury car back then) where he took a few bulbs and some wire and created a magnetic engine that drove for days with no energy source whatsoever. The technology is there and we are being snowed into thinking that a car that gets a lousy 23mpg is somehow groundbreaking. At what point do the mindless idiots known as the american people stand up and demand real change. We bail out one major company after another with our hard earned money and get hosed by some corporate plant that tells us we should be happy to get two more mpg than a gas engine while millions of gallons of gas spew into the Gulf.
    Report This
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    Outside and in, the 2011 is so much better than the popular outgoing model that Porsche could have stopped with a new exterior and a duly revised interior. But they didn't.


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