2019 Porsche Cayenne First Drive: Mild Spice

Like a good hot sauce, the 2019 Porsche Cayenne is available with multiple levels of spice: There’s the mild 335-horsepower Cayenne, the medium-spice 434-hp Cayenne S, the hot 455-hp Cayenne E-Hybrid, and, finally, the fire-breathing 541-hp Cayenne Turbo. And it’s the weakest of the Porsche peppers that’s my plaything along a sprawling route that takes me from Yountville in Northern California’s Napa Valley to the coastal city of Mendicino, located more than 100 miles north.

Of course, weak is a relative term. The least powerful Cayenne still packs enough heat to satisfy the palate while pushing this two-ton crossover through hairpin turns and overtaking slow-moving traffic. Thanks to a 120-pound weight reduction and an extra 35 horsepower from its new turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (compared to the prior model’s 300-hp naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6), the all-new third-generation Cayenne moves with a fresh bravado that finally makes the entry-level Cayenne feel worthy of the Porsche badge.

The trot to 60 miles per hour takes a manufacturer-claimed 5.6 seconds for models equipped with launch control, a feature bundled into the $1,130 Sport Chrono package. That figure slows to 5.9 seconds without launch control. Regardless, Porsche claims the Cayenne is between 1.4 and 1.6 seconds quicker to the mile-a-minute mark relative to its fo...