Electrification: there is no substitute.
The future might be electric, but even now, as Porsche prepares to roll out its first all-electric vehicle, the German automaker is soldiering on with cars that bridge the gap between its turbocharged, gas-powered past and an electrified future. The 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid is part of the automaker’s plug-in hybrid lineup that also includes a range of Panamera E-Hybrid and Cayenne Coupe models.
While we spill plenty of ink writing about Porsche’s mad Turbo S E-Hybrid models, which are among the most powerful vehicles the company builds, this Cayenne E-Hybrid is the one you’re more likely to see at your typical stop light. And, frankly, it’s the Cayenne to have. Typically when we write a piece like this, the pros and cons balance each other out. Not this time. The pros of of this plug-in hybrid blow the cons out of the water.
Before checking out the Cayenne S, consider the E-Hybrid. With 455 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, the Cayenne E-Hybrid, which uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and 134-hp electric motor, is up 21 hp and a massive 110 lb-ft of torque over the twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 of the Cayenne S. That more than makes up for the additional 424 pounds of batteries and electric motors the E-Hybrid carries. The result of this extra punch is a 4.7-second sprint to 60 miles per hour, thanks in no small part to the standard Sport Chrono pack (dash-top stopwatch, Sport Plus and Individual drive modes, Sport response button, launch control, and a Sport stability control setting).
This particular item is an optional extra on the Cayenne S, and without it, the gas-only model takes 4.9 seconds to hit 60. It’s a smidge faster with the $1,130 Sport Chrono pack, as the setup’s launch control system trims the trot to 60 by 0.3 seconds. The Cayenne S boasts a higher top speed, topping out at 164 mph to the E-Hybrid’s 157. However, unless you live in Germany and regularly blast down its autobahns, that particular point is irrelevant.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy estimates for the Cayenne E-Hybrid list it at 22 miles per gallon combined (two mpg better than the Cayenne S) or 46 miles per gallon equivalent with a fully charged battery. My experience, though, was more positive, with this tester showing a computer-indicated 34 miles per gallon in mixed driving conditions. That’s despite spending nearly a quarter of my time with the battery depleted and the car running as a pure hybrid. Taking advantage of the Cayenne’s roughly 20-mile all-electric range was key to netting that figure, but we’ve little doubt that even without that advantage, the E-Hybrid will go further on a tank than a Cayenne S.
Porsche isn’t normally the brand we think of as offering bargains. The Cayenne E-Hybrid, however, is a relative bargain, though. With a starting price of $81,100, the gasoline-electric Cayenne costs $3,200 less than the gas-sipping Cayenne S. Factor in the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s standard Sport Chrono package, an $1,130 option on the Cayenne S, and the model’s price advantage is even greater. Finally, the Cayenne E-Hybrid is eligible for a $6,712 federal income-tax credit, the most of any 2019 Porsche model (of course, the upcoming Taycan is sure to take the top spot for 2020).
First, let me just state that I adore the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s acid green brake calipers, badging, and accents. But I can appreciate that for some people, the defining aesthetic difference of Porsche’s E-Hybrid line might be a bit much. Fortunately, customers can order their Cayenne without this E-Hybrid-specific kit for no additional charge. Unfortunately, though, this is a mutually exclusive option with the Cayenne’s no-cost badge delete option. One way or another, you’ll be advertising that your Porsche is a hybrid (if that matters).
At around 20 miles to a charge, the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s range is useful but not abundant. That’s especially true considering that this hybrid Cayenne is not only new, but sold in a world where plug-ins are routinely cracking 30 miles on a full charge. Even though the 14.1-kilowatt-hour battery can recharge quite quickly (even from a 120-volt outlet), the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s all-electric driving range is low for a plug-in hybrid vehicle that’s new for 2019.
The Cayenne, like so many hybrids, recuperates energy while braking. And like so many other hybrids, a side effect of this mechanism is a grabby brake pedal. The Cayenne E-Hybrid’s pedal isn’t too difficult to modulate in the grand scheme of driving (it demonstrates its worst behavior during light braking situations), but in a vehicle that puts such an impressive emphasis on the driving experience, we were hoping Porsche could have done a better job sorting out its plug-in hybrid crossover’s regenerative braking.