Porsche Cayenne: Generation Next

2015 Porsche Cayenne

The original Porsche Cayenne changed the way that we look at Porsche as well as at sport-utility vehicles in general. Where Jeep and Land Rover paved the way for the earliest off-road vehicles, Porsche came to the party late, but with its guns a-blazing.

Porsche’s First Sport Utility Vehicle

The Porsche Cayenne is a beast on the road as it lives up to its “a sports car among sport utility vehicles” mantle when it roars down the straightaways and navigates the bends. But, it is also a capable vehicle off roader with more than 10 inches of ground clearance, locking center and rear differentials, and a torquey low-range gear ratio. Not that you will see too many Cayenne owners taking this burly beast off road — quite frankly, most Cayennes stick to firm pavement, but at least the option for off-roading is always there.

The original Cayenne was produced from 2003 to 2010, followed by a second generation model that has been on the market since 2011. Porsche, however, has already lined up the third generation model, what will go on sale stateside this November.

2015 Porsche Cayenne 2015 Porsche Cayenne.

Generation Three: 2015 Porsche Cayenne

The 2015 Porsche Cayenne will continue to seat five and will be available in four versions: Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne S, Cayenne Turbo and the first-ever Cayenne S E-Hybrid, delivering the first plug-in hybrid SUV to the premium segment. It gets even more exciting as Porsche introduces a brand spanking new 3.6-liter twin-turbo gasoline engine for the Cayenne S. The new engine was designed and built entirely by Porsche what will enable this SUV to achieve greater performance as well as enjoy improved fuel economy over the previous model.

The third-generation Cayenne advances familiar styling cues, with its overall design sharpened with new lines and edges. Up front, the fenders and hood are new. The air fins, found to the right and left of the Cayenne’s front end, are also new. The fins are used to direct air to the intercoolers for cooling and have been carefully integrated to provide a stout visual presentation.

The Porsche Cayenne comes equipped with bi-xenon headlights and four-point LED daytime running lights, found on all models except for the Cayenne Turbo. The top-of-the-line Cayenne Turbo is outfitted with high performance LED headlights within the Porsche Dynamic Light System.

To the rear, changes were made to the brake light layout as well as to the tailgate lid. Indeed, the license plate recess, tailgate handle and lights are fully integrated into that lid. Porsche also redid the look of the exhaust tailpipes what are now integrated into the lower rear fascia. Overall, Porsche says that the 2015 Cayenne has a “fuller stance” on the road.

Inside, a new multifunction sport steering wheel with shift paddles is standard across the model line. Porsche says that its look is based on the steering wheel found in the 918 Spyder. A rear seat with optional seat ventilation is also new.

2015 Porsche Cayenne Performance

Across the model line, two new features will provide a conspicuous effect on vehicle operation. Firstly, a new automatic stop-start function can be found, what provides greater efficiencies. Secondly, active air flaps are included for the first time. Located behind the center air intake and controlled by engine management, the air flaps open and close according to your driving circumstance as well as to the engine’s cooling requirements. When closed, the air flaps boost aerodynamics through reduced drag, resulting in improved fuel economy.

Porsche points to the 1899 Lohner Porsche as inspiration for the Cayenne’s first hybrid. That earlier Porsche was designed and built by Ferdinand Porsche and was the first vehicle in the world to contain battery-powered electric drive coupled with a combustion engine.

In the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, this PHEV has a lithium-ion traction battery making 95 horsepower with the ability to run on electric-only power at speeds up to 78 mph. It is paired with a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine making 333 horsepower. Combined, the hybrid Cayenne makes 416 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 435 foot-pounds of torque in a range from 1,250 rpm to 4,000 rpm.

The performance numbers with the hybrid are especially notable. Porsche says that the SUV will travel from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 5.4 seconds. The SUV has a top speed of 151 mph.

Improvements in fuel efficiency have also been realized with the 2015 Porsche Cayenne Diesel. This SUV’s 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 engine makes 240 horsepower at 3,800 rpm to 4,400 rpm and 406 foot-pounds of torque ranging from 1,750 rpm to 2,500 rpm. Porsche claims that the diesel can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 135 mph.

Switching from a V-8 engine to a V-6 typically results in a loss of power. That loss is anathema to Porsche faithful, except perhaps to owners who have no intention of harnessing the Cayenne’s ultimate sporting side while taking to the road. The new twin-turbo V-6 engine will deliver 420 horsepower at 6,000 rpm for a net gain of 20 horsepower over the previous engine. The SUV’s torque increases by 37 foot-pounds to 406 foot-pounds in a range from 1,350 rpm to 4,500 rpm.

Paired with a standard eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission, the Cayenne S goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package. That represents a gain of 0.4 seconds and a top speed of 160 miles per hour.

Choose the Cayenne Turbo and you get the ultimate in SUV performance. That model has a 4.8-liter, twin-turbo V-8 engine making a whopping 520 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 553 foot-pounds of torque in a range from 2,250 rpm to 4,000 rpm. With the optional Sport Chrono package its 0 to 100 km/h time is 4.1 seconds. This model has a top speed of 173 mph.

2015 Porsche Cayenne Pricing

Porsche has also announced pricing for all four Cayenne models. The manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) does not include a $995 destination charge. For 2015, the Cayenne Diesel will list for $61,700. The Cayenne S comes in at $74,100 and the Cayenne S E-Hybrid will retail from $76,400. The top-of-the-range Cayenne Turbo comes in at $113,600. As always, Porsche provides many individual and package upgrades that allow you to customize your purchase as you see fit.

2015 Porsche Cayenne photos courtesy of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA).

At a Glance: 2.7-Liter Ford EcoBoost Engine

Ford F-150 with EcoBoost

New EcoBoost engine makes the power grade.

The 2015 model year will bring yet another new engine to the Ford product line, a 2.7-liter V-6. That engine follows four cylinder engines displacing at 1.5- and 2.3-liters, being utilized in the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKC respectively, as well as in other models.

Ford F-150 with EcoBoost

Ford puts the new F-150 through the paces in Arizona.

EcoBoost Engines

All three engines are based on Ford’s proprietary EcoBoost technology, what marries direct injection, turbochargers and variable valve lift timing to produce more powerful engines on a smaller footprint. The 2.7-liter V-6 will be introduced in the 2015 Ford F-150 when it goes on sale this fall.

Last week, Ford shared some information about the new V-6, including horsepower, torque and towing details. What it did not offer were the truck’s fuel economy estimates, expected to come in somewhere around 27 mpg. That would make the F-150 the most efficient gas-powered, full-size pickup truck on the market, coming in just shy of the Ram 1500 equipped with a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V-6.

Optional EcoBoost Engine

The new truck engine offers twin-turbo power and makes 325 horsepower and 375 foot-pounds of torque. Because the new truck comes in as much as 732 pounds lighter than its predecessor, thanks to vehicle light-weighting, the new engine provides similar power as found in the 2014 Ford F-150 equipped with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine. Ford says that a F-150 4×2 will have a maximum payload rating of 2,250 pounds and a maximum tow rating of 8,500 pounds, what Ford describes as “meeting mid-range capability needs.”

Ford is not simply relying on a smaller engine and vehicle light-weighting to improve fuel mileage for 2015. It is introducing automatic start–stop technology for this pick up truck line too. Just as it is found elsewhere, the technology will shut the engine off when the vehicle comes to a stop. The moment the brake is released, the engine restarts immediately. The advantage here is in the reduction in both the amount of fuel consumed and emissions released. Ford has also designed the technology to deactivate whenever the vehicle is towing or is operating in four-wheel-drive mode.

Standard Engine

The new EcoBoost engine is not the standard engine in the 2015 Ford F–150. A normally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 engine replaces the previous 3.7-liter V-6 used in the 2014 model. Ford says that the standard engine has a maximum payload of 1,910 pounds and a maximum tow rating of 7,600 pounds. The standard engine features twin independent variable camshaft timing along with direct acting polished mechanical buckets. Other efficiencies were realized by updating the bearing caps, the forged steel crankshaft as well as the exhaust manifolds.

“The 2015 F-150 is the most capable F-150 yet, while shedding up to 700 pounds,” said Bob Fascetti, vice president, Powertrain Engineering. “These two new V6 engines – the 2.7-liter turbocharged EcoBoost and normally aspirated 3.5-liter Ti-VCT – set a new standard for Ford for capability and efficiency.”

Taking on Tacoma

While Ford certainly has both Ram and Chevrolet in its crosshairs as it updates its most popular model, this truck manufacturer has also taken on a midsize truck from Toyota when releasing its numbers. Specifically, Ford noted that both its F-150 and the Toyota Tacoma offer engines displacing at the same size, namely at 2.7 liters.

Ford noted that it’s engine produces more than twice the horsepower, torque and towing capabilities of it smaller competitor. The Ford also has an 825-pound edge in the payload department. Essentially, Ford may be demonstrating that while it does not have a smaller truck to offer customers, it has a larger truck that sizes up well against both large and smaller competitors alike.

Best-Selling Pickup Truck

The Ford Motor Company is looking to retain its place as the best-selling pickup truck in America, a feat that is approaching 40 years running. It is making a big, some might say risky move, to go with an aluminum body truck for the new model year. But it may be just the effort Ford needs to maintain that position going forward.

Photo courtesy of the Ford Motor Company.

Now Competitive: 2015 Chrysler 200S

Quite easily the 2015 Chrysler 200 is the best midsize sedan ever to wear a Chrysler badge. Don’t get all giddy about my statement just yet — Chrysler’s offerings in this segment have included the LeBaron, Cirrus, Sebring and the 200. Under performers all — in one of the toughest automotive segments at that.

But times have certainly changed. Chrysler now has access to Fiat products, including entire platforms and related components that power various European-derived vehicles. The 2015 Chrysler 200 is based on a modified “small-wide” platform that also underpins the current Dodge Dart, while coming in longer, wider and heavier than the Dodge.

2015 Chrysler 200S

2015 Chrysler 200S

2015 Chrysler 200S

The latest iteration is sold as a sedan only. Gone is the previous 200 convertible, effectively removing Chrysler from the drop top category it helped to revive in the 1980s. Convertible sales were small to begin with and that model simply did not offer much that could not be found elsewhere as well as in a better product. Better to pour your resources into one body style, not two.

A 2015 Chrysler 200S was a recent weekly driver, costing from $24,495 with a $28,575 price tag. I quickly realized that the sedan looks better in person than is shown in pictures. Its exterior reminds me of the understated elegance of the Volkswagen Passat; its interior is sporty, clean and modern, far better than what the previous generation model offered.

Engines, Transmission and Drive Options

The standard engine for the 2015 Chrysler 200S is a 2.4-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder motor. Outfitted with multiport fuel injection, the base engine makes 184 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 173 foot-pounds of torque at 4,600 rpm. Chrysler pairs both engines with a ZF-supplied, nine-speed automatic transmission with shifting capabilities. That shifting comes by way of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters when the transmission is placed in Sport (S) mode.

Front-wheel-drive is standard with the 200. New for this year is optional all-wheel drive, something only a few other competitors offer. All-wheel drive is standard with the Subaru Legacy and optional with the Ford Fusion, for instance. Chrysler’s venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is also optional, making a segment-best 295 horsepower.

When Chrysler rolled out the 200 for the 2011 model year it replaced the Sebring, but mostly in name only. The 200 was equal to a hearty midcycle refresh; the Sebring name was axed as it was toxic to sales. Aligning the 200 with the 300 also reflected a change in naming convention, offering an excuse for Chrysler to vanquish the Sebring.

Happily, the new model is a clean sheet update, reflecting a mandate given to designers to craft a much more desirable product.

Sleek Exterior

That appeal is evident all around, marked by standard bi-function halogen projector headlamps with available LED daytime running lights and fog lights. A sportier grille punctuated by the familiar Chrysler crest imparts a measure of elegance to the front fascia.

The 2015 Chrysler 200S offers clean, sweeping modern lines, body side sculpting, available 18-inch satin carbon aluminum wheels, underbody aerodynamic treatment, LED tail lights and dual integrated exhaust tips. Most of these features are included with the S edition and in the top-of-the-line 200C ($25,995). You can also choose the LX ($21,700) and Limited ($23,225) editions when shopping the 200 line.

Stylish Interior

Inside, the cabin offers a dramatic and much welcome departure from earlier Chrysler models. Keyless entry is standard across the model line as is push button start. Seating five, the 200S interior features a center console supplied by Faurecia and stylish leather-trimmed sport seats. The look is clean and upscale, a design that sets this edition apart from the pack.

The front seats are bolstered and comfortable. The back seat is also comfortable, supplying sufficient room for three. What I liked best about the back seat was its 60/40 split that offers full access to the trunk. What’s more, there is a center pass through for those times when you want to give up just one seat placement — now you know how to bring along your skis.

There are several “pluses” in the current 200 that were not present in the previous model. One outstanding feature is the ergonomic center console with pass-through storage. Here, you get multiple hidden storage compartments with all your connectivity functions at the ready. Simply press the button and pull the switch located fore of the stack and the cup holders and smartphone holder slide out of the way to reveal your covered storage. If moving the cup holders out of the way is an inconvenience, then simply lift the arm rest up to find a second hidden storage compartment, this one with a light and its own connection points.

The test model featured a black interior with blue trim and chrome accents. A leather-wrapped steering wheel with driver and secondary controls sits in front of a brightly illuminated instrument panel. That panel is marked by a pair of analog tachometer and speedometer displays that flank a digital driver information center. Fully customizable, you can change the various drive read outs right from the steering wheel.

One big difference in the new Chrysler is its “rotary e-shift” knob located just above the center storage. That knob controls the new nine-speed automatic transmission, allowing you to choose drive or sport modes as you head out. To the right of the knob is an electronic parking brake, the first time I found one located in that position that wasn’t a Porsche.

Another big plus for this model is its 8.4-inch center console display screen. It features Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system, one of the best and most sensible systems of its kind. The layout is as easy to use as most any electronic device, reminding my wife of her iPad. Touchscreen access to the radio, your media player, seat and climate controls, navigation, your connected phone and various apps, including the sedan’s own wi-fi hotspot, makes this system user-friendly. Even so, there are switches and knobs below the display to control volume, tune the radio, adjust the climate control and shut off stability control.

Other amenities found in the Chrysler 200S include: drink holders in all four doors plus storage, front and back cup holders, map lights, reading lights, power 8-way driver and 4-way front passenger seats, automatic climate control, rear vent control, power windows and automatic door locks.

The test model featured three package options including a comfort group ($795), a navigation and audio package ($1,495) and a lighting group ($795). The first package brought in the heated steering wheel, heated front seats and a rear back up camera. The second package was composed of the driver information system, UConnect and a 9-speaker Alpine audio system. The third package added in lighting upgrades including the fog lights.

2015 Chrysler 200S

View manufacturer details and pricing

On the Road

Without having the benefit of comparing the four-cylinder model to the V-6, I can only describe what I encountered while driving with the smaller engine. Side note: if the model at hand had the V-6 engine, you would also get all-wheel drive. That comes in handy to offset the usual torque steer felt when sticking a powerful engine in a midsize sedan. The Chrysler AWD system features a fully disconnecting rear axle and torque biasing, attributes that improve steering and handling.

But I was given a model equipped with a four-cylinder engine and front-wheel-drive, just what most consumers will choose. And with my family along for a ride, we took a 555-mile round-trip excursion deep into the heart of Virginia where we put the Chrysler 200S through the paces. It was back road travel mostly with increasingly higher and winding terrain as we made our way to Luray Caverns. That road showed us that the sedan was up to the task of handling significant rises, sharp turns and at times narrow spaces on the way up and back. No lack of power was noticed although there were times when the transmission seemed to be searching for gears before settling down. Mountain roads can tax any vehicle; the Chrysler 200S took us there and back without incident.

This model features independent front and multi-link suspension to go with a sport-tuned system. You also get electric power steering and numerous safety features including eight standard air bags, available blind spot monitoring with rear cross path detection, traction control, stability control and brake assist.

A Tall Order

Chrysler did a few things to better position the 200 to compete in a crowded midsize segment. First, the automaker surveyed the industry and knew that it had to go after the very best. While the Chrysler 200 may not have the flair of the Ford Fusion or of a Hyundai Sonata, it offers an interior that matches up well against the Toyota Camry, Honda’s Accord and the Nissan Altima. Second, the Chrysler brand has been ”demoted” from its premium status to a standard brand. Instead of being compared to Buick, you will see ads mentioning Chevrolet, Kia and Toyota, among others. Even so, in the Chrysler 200S you get a car with generous amounts of premium features along with a competitive price point.

The 2015 Chrysler 200S and the three other trim levels will likely get extensively shopped by customers. It offers a significant improvement over the previous generation and is better positioned to take on the industry’s top sellers.

2015 Chrysler 200S

  • Sticker price from $24,495
  • Price as tested: $28,575
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 2.4-liter 16-valve four cylinder engine
  • 184 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
  • 173 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,600 rpm
  • 3.46 inches bore by 3.82 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 10:0-to-1
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 108.0 inches
  • Length: 192.3 inches
  • Width: 73.6 inches
  • Height: 58.7 inches
  • Passenger volume: 101.4 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 16.0 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: Not recommended
  • EPA: 23 mpg city, 36 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 15.8 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,473 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Not yet rated
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/100,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 3 years/Unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Sterling Heights, Michigan

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2015 Chrysler 200S photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.