How the 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Compares to Our 2011 SUV of the Year08/02/2019
Eight years ago, we named the second-generation Porsche Cayenne our SUV of the Year and, eager to evaluate its technical achievements, selected the Cayenne S Hybrid for a one-year Long-Term test. Now, an all-new 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid is out, and it’s time to find out what’s improved and what hasn’t.
Editor-at-large Angus MacKenzie and I shared ownership of the 2011 Cayenne S Hybrid during its stay, and together we put nearly 27,000 miles on it. I got to know it well in that time, and with that kind of familiarity, it made sense for me to be the one to evaluate the new model. Here’s where Porsche has changed things, for better and for worse.
The biggest dig I took at the 2011 Cayenne S Hybrid was over its green credentials. The EPA rated it at 20/24 mpg city/highway and 21 mpg combined. We averaged 19.9 mpg. The 2019 Cayenne E-Hybrid hasn’t been rated yet, but it’s worth noting the non-hybrid 2019 Cayenne with the same gasoline engine is rated at 19/23/21 mpg cityhighway/combined, so the 2019 Cayenne E-Hybrid ought to see a substantial gain over our old long-termer, especially given it’s a plug-in hybrid whereas the 2011 was a straight hybrid.
You can certainly tell the difference behind the wheel. The 2011’s engine fired to warm itself up when you started the car and ran for the first five minutes of driving. Then, it would let you “sail,” turning off the gas engine and coasting or maintaining your speed on electric power if you were really light on the pedal (hopefully on flat ground or headed downhill). The 2019 starts in its pure EV mode and will travel 27 miles before it lights off the gas engine if you’re not too heavy on the throttle. While I couldn’t coax the 2011 much past 20 mph under pure electric power, the 2019 will go all the way up to 83 mph in EV mode. Once in its hybrid mode, the 2019 will “sail” just as the 2011 did, but for far longer. You can also use quite a bit more throttle while sailing without waking up the gas engine.
At the time, the 2011 was the third-quickest hybrid we’d ever tested hitting 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. It did that with a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 making 333 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque along with an electric motor good for 47 hp and 295 lb-ft. Together, they put out 380 hp and 427 lb-ft combined.
The 2019 will blow the 2011 off the street. The 3.0-liter V-6 is now turbocharged and makes 335 hp and 332 lb-ft, but the electric motor has 918 Spyder supercar DNA and makes 134 hp and 295 lb-ft. Combined with a much larger battery, the whole system puts out 455 hp and 516 lb-ft. Porsche says it’ll hit 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, and we tend to beat Porsche’s estimates with our testing. That’s quick enough to dust the kid trying to show off in his Honda Civic Type R by a considerable margin.
The 2019 Cayenne hybrid is obviously quite a bit quicker than the 2011 model, but that’s not the only difference in how it drives. An ongoing complaint I had about the 2011 was its clunkiness at low speeds, bucking and jerking around the parking lot as the various drivetrain components tried to sort out power delivery. There was even a software update issued to clean it up, which didn’t. The 2019, thankfully, has this all sorted. Doing all its low-speed driving under electric power, the 2019 is much smoother around town and in parking lots. The only thing you’ll feel is gear changes, and only because of the momentary interruption in power. It’s an artifact of Porsche’s decision to use the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission rather than its quicker-shifting dual-clutch gearbox, and not much to complain about.
You also get a lot more driving options in the 2019. In 2011, all I had was a Sport mode. Now, there’s the default EV mode, a hybrid mode, both Sport and Sport Plus modes, and the hybrid mode has options. You can save charge for later or even charge-up the battery while you drive. The EV mode even has its own launch control.
If you’ve spent much time in a second-generation Cayenne, you’ll feel right at home in the new one. The design of the interior is basically identical with just some components swapped out for higher-tech pieces. Really, it’s the instrument cluster, infotainment screen, and the center console buttons.
One of my favorite features on the 2011 was the customizable information screen in the instrument cluster that replaced one of the round analog gauges. It had information on every aspect of the vehicle if you wanted it, and I especially liked being able to bring up the navigation map. The 2019 has taken it a big step further, replacing four of the five gauges (save the big center tachometer) with a pair of screens which can be customized even further and bring up a much bigger, easier to read map. They’ve also been augmented with an optional full-color, high-resolution, and also customizable head-up display.
I’m also a fan of the new 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It, too, is customizable, higher-resolution, and easier to read. There are still a lot of sub-menus like there were in the 2011, but in general the system is easier to navigate.
I’m less impressed with the new touch-sensitive buttons on the center console. Many folks complained about the number of buttons on the 2011, but I found after a while I could remember where they were without looking. These touch-sensitive buttons require a glance down to locate them, and pushing them leaves smudgy fingerprints on the black plastic.
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