2019 Porsche Cayenne S essentials: The new $100K normal?

Our Opinion: This Porsche Cayenne feels and looks kind of plain; there’s not a lot of wild styling inside or out. It’s only the S, not the Turbo or Turbo S, so I’m thinking, “This will be reasonably priced.” Wrong! We’re at $98,970 with just a small handful of options. Big wheels, big brakes and leather make up about 10 grand of those. However, I think the last X5 I drove was near $100K and the Mercedes-Benz GLE can easily go into the $90K range too. All three of the Germans start around $60K, which seems more reasonable. Six figures for a midsize SUV? Doesn’t feel like enough car.
Don’t get me wrong, the Cayenne’s power and handling are great. Best in the segment. The 2.9-liter V6 is very smooth, and I didn’t notice any turbo lag, but Robin just drove the base model, so maybe that’s the difference. I did notice the downshifts that make the car rock back and forth, which made me think this was a dual clutch. Maybe Porsche just tuned in some … I don’t want to say harshness, but, something, in the name of feeling fast. But this thing is already plenty fast, and shifts at speed feel normal and smooth.
Cayenne steering and handling are way above average for an SUV. The ratio feels quick and the effort/weight is right too for making spirited moves in traffic and cutting along roundabouts at the very edge of the shallow curb. Also, Porsche does a great job of keeping the suspension stiff but muting out the bigger road imperfections. I think the three-chamber air suspension helps here, as does the 48-volt electric system and adjustable antiroll bars. The new Cayenne also offers an off-road mode that loosens things up. I didn’t get to the dirt in this drive. Maybe next time.