It’s early on a Friday, the Malibu canyons are empty, and the road is damp. I’m in the 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, about to try its launch control system for the first time. I flick it into Sport+ mode, hold the brake, build boost, and we’re off. All four wheels lose traction as the 650-horsepower Turbo GT attempts to claw its way forward. A split second later, it hooks. I look down at the speedo and see triple digits within seconds. This SUV is supercar quick.
That was my introduction to the updated third-generation Cayenne. An SUV that received more than just a few upgrades for its mid-cycle refresh. It’s more powerful, more versatile, and with its redesigned cabin, techier than ever. Porsche could’ve gotten away with slapping some new bumpers on it and calling it a day. After all, the Cayenne is the brand’s best-seller and shows no signs of slowing. But as a drive from Los Angeles to Ojai, CA, confirmed, these updates don’t just improve a segment leader. They make the 2024 model the best Cayenne yet.
Starting At The Top
My day with the updated Porsche Cayenne began near Santa Monica. I decided to start at the top and snagged a drive in the Turbo GT first. I’ve covered a few thousand miles in MLB Evo-based SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Audi RS Q8, and Porsche Cayenne. Yet despite sharing a modular architecture and significant components such as engines, transmissions, and even suspension bits, the Cayenne has always been the best to drive.
It’s not even its speed that impresses most. Despite its weight and size, Porsche’s largest vehicle remains responsive, agile, and exciting. The Cayenne’s secret sauce seems to lie in its fine-tuning, where Porsche has plenty of expertise. And this latest Turbo GT appears to be no different.
Turbo GT Quick Stats
|Engine||Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-Liter V8|
|Output||650 Horsepower / 626 Foot Pounds|
|0-60 MPH||3.1 Seconds|
Its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 now develops 650 hp, a 19-hp increase over its predecessor, while its 626 pound-feet of torque output remains unchanged. Power still goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. And while Porsche claims it’ll take 3.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, that figure seems conservative given how outrageously violent it’ll launch from a standstill. Flat out, it’ll reach 189 mph.
Up in the Malibu canyons now, its performance is easy to deploy. Even at 650 hp, the Turbo GT feels manageable. Turbo lag is non-existent, and its body remains planted even through tight corners. It’s eager to turn in and light on its feet, all things an SUV weighing over 5,000 lb shouldn’t be able to do. All GTs come standard with adaptive air suspension, composite brakes, and rear-wheel steering, although for 2024, its Pirelli P Zero Corsa tire has taller sidewalls.
While in Sport+, its suspension dials out body roll well, but it’s not overly firm, never crashing over bumps or translating unwanted vibrations to the passengers. Dial it back to its softer drive modes, and the GT will happily hum along, riding a wave of epic low-end torque.
I turned onto the Pacific Coast Highway and parked by the beach. It was also the first time I got a good look at the updated Cayenne, which looks just like its predecessor at first glance. However, look closer, and you’ll notice a new front bumper, fenders, hood, and LED headlights. Out back, its LED light bar is now thicker, incorporating both taillights into one bezel, which doesn’t just hide behind a piece of plastic. Its various LED strips protrude, giving the rear a 3D effect.
The Turbo GT gets an extended front splitter, an upper rear wing, a trunk lid spoiler, and 22-inch GT Design wheels. It’s aggressive but not overly so. After all, even this canyon-carving GT will likely stick to daily driving duties on most days.
Swapping Into An S
With the bar set so high, I swapped into a Cayenne S for the second half of the day after lunch in Ojai. It’s perhaps the most updated model in the range as it sees the return of a V8 engine replacing its predecessor’s V6. Its new powerplant is good for 468 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, allowing it to sprint to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. And like in the GT, it’s mated to an eight-speed auto and sends power to all four wheels. While I’m all for a big engine and a burbly exhaust note, the big news about the new S and the rest of the lineup, for that matter, is its suspension.
Cayenne S Quick Stats
|Engine||Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-Liter V8|
|Output||468 Horsepower / 442 Foot-Pounds|
|0-60 MPH||4.4 Seconds|
As standard, the previous Cayenne offered single-valve shock absorbers and steel springs unless you opted for an optional adaptive air suspension system. For 2024, the Cayenne, Cayenne E-Hybrid, and Cayenne S all get two-valve shocks that can separately adjust rebound and compression. My tester, however, counted on the optional air suspension. On the road, this translates to an SUV that is supremely comfortable over road imperfections but still manages its weight well in the bends.
As I made my way down to the PCH, I encountered more twisty roads and threw the S into Sport+ mode to see if it could keep up with the GT. And while it may not be quite as agile, it’s still nicely balanced and more than a willing dance partner for a quick drive. However, the big shocker came as I settled for the long drive back to Los Angeles.
I forgot to switch it out of Sport+ mode, and even in its stiffest setting, it proved perfectly comfortable for a lengthy cruise. Not even my co-driver noticed as we racked up miles heading south. The Cayenne S is the most versatile trim and, I suspect, the right one for most people.
Sitting passenger now, I finally checked out all of the Cayenne’s new switches. Its cabin received a significant redesign and is now more Taycan-esque than ever. It now sports a 12.6-in digital instrument cluster, a 12.3-in center infotainment screen, and a 10.9-in passenger display. While the smallest of the three is for those riding shotgun, it’s still powerful, featuring access to streaming services or easy access to set the onboard navigation system. Unfortunately, the S available at the launch was a euro model and thus lacked the connectivity to check these features out personally.
Tech aside, the rest of the cabin sees improvements such as a simplified gear selector, which now lives on the dash to the right of the instrument cluster, and a row of switches replacing previous haptic feedback buttons. A glass haptic feedback surface still surrounds the new switchgear, but it operates like a massive button, delivering a satisfying click.
Like its predecessor, the updated Cayenne offers wireless charging for mobile devices. Except it’ll now route cool air to keep your phone’s temperature down as it charges at up to 15 watts. This is necessary as you’ll most likely wirelessly connect to its smartphone-based systems. And granted, it works well, but I’ll probably stick to a cable that charges at up to 18 watts without turning my phone into a little heater.
|Model||Price Includes $1,650 Destination Fee|
|Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe||$97,350|
|Cayenne S Coupe||$103,750|
|Cayenne Turbo GT||$197,950|
If you can fault the new Cayenne for anything, it would be its updated pricing, which sees a significant increase over the 2023 model year. However, it is worth pointing out that the 2024s receive more extras as standard, including LED headlights, active suspension, and 20-in wheels. Its standard suite of safety features also improves with standard lane change assist, lane keep assist and keyless entry. And while these are all features buyers would’ve most likely optioned anyway, shouldn’t they have already come standard in a vehicle that starts so close to six figures?
The Details Add Up
As we returned to our start point in Santa Monica, I wondered why Porsche would update the Cayenne to this extent if it was already selling so well. Other automakers might’ve stuck with cosmetic changes and called it a day. The answer is that, in part, this Cayenne will live on for considerably longer. The German carmaker plans to launch an all-electric variant soon, and this third-gen model must live alongside it.
The 2024 Cayenne is more than just a mid-cycle refresh. There’s plenty to like, from its updated engine lineup, versatile suspension, and tech-filled cabin. And while it may cost significantly more than its predecessor, it now offers more standard features to compensate. Overall, the 2024 model proves that the details add up, making a great SUV even better.