Being both a pariah and a company savior has been hard on the Porsche Cayenne. If the Porsche ‘faithful' could have burned it at the stake, they would have, but the thousands of them on the road means it served its purpose: to keep the parent company in the black. So, like it or not, the Cayenne is still the most successful – and perhaps most important – Porsche in recent history. Introduced in 2002, it was getting on in years and was due for an update.
Twinned with the Volkswagen Touareg, the Cayenne was surprisingly good off-road – although a fraction of its owners would ever explore that side of its personality. But that came with a price – namely extra weight in the form of bulky transfer cases and locking mechanical differentials. Built to withstand heavy abuse, it became a penalty everywhere else.
Porsche decided to find a more elegant solution, and has incorporated a version of the Panamera's all-wheel-drive system underneath the new version. It's smaller and lighter, but can still pass muster in the muck. They also have an optional torque-vectoring rear differential that's designed to add extra performance on the road, but has a side-benefit of acting like a fully-locked diff when needed. Truly the best of both worlds. Together with some other fat-reducing efforts, the engineers were successfully able to pull 400 lbs out in the redesign, which is truly spectacular in this age of ever-inflating curb weights.
More: 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Review on AutoGuide.com