By Paula MacPherson
I quickly concluded that the 2012 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid, though undeniably gorgeous, is much more car than anyone really needs. The paint on our review Cayenne, jet green metallic, glistened; as well it should have for the extra $790 it cost. The interior, in two-tone natural shades of espresso and cognac leather, was beautiful and comfortable. It was also a $5,595 option.
The wheels helped make this one of the best looking SUVs I’ve ever seen. But they also added $4,875 to the price. Our $69,000 review Cayenne ended up costing $98,070 thanks to $29,070 in options. The price of the options alone is more than enough to buy a perfectly good car.
The Cayenne’s performance is excellent. Acceleration is powerful and almost instantly on tap at any speed. The ride is quiet and stable when the comfort setting on the adjustable suspension is selected. Handling is impressive.
The controls are a little overwhelming at first, especially in the center console area. But they are logically arranged. Climate controls are in front of and on either side of the shift lever, and switches for the ride control, hybrid system and off-road functions are at the base. The radio is a bit of a distraction, though it isn’t as confusing as many of the audio systems in other cars. In addition, the sound from this $2,160 Bose upgrade was very good. The navigation system also worked well and was easy to program.
One highlight was the night lighting. The price sticker listed the Cayenne as having bi-xenon headlights with PDLS, or Porsche Dynamic Light System. Porsche says that it combines dynamic and static cornering lights with speed-sensitive headlight control.
All I can say is that it works. This is one of the best nighttime vehicles I’ve driven. The low beams are great, and seemed not to bother other drivers. The high beams punch through the darkness for a considerable distance while also throwing an impressive amount of light to the sides. Finally, the cornering lights did a first-rate job during turns in a suburban neighborhood.