In the past couple of years, Porsche has redesigned the Cayman and Boxster (adding the 718 designation to each), introduced a twin-turbocharged 911 Carrera, and turned the Panamera from one of the most unattractive cars on the road into one of the best looking. Good. Great. Wonderful. And none of it matters.
This is what matters—it's the 2019 Porsche Cayenne officially unveiled Tuesday, and it's the vehicle that provides the dollars for Porsche to continue being Porsche. In other words, of all the products Zuffenhausen has rethought and restyled over the past few years, the Cayenne is inarguably the most important.
Restrained style, inspired by Panamera
And it's also the most restrained. As we learned from last week's leaked images, the approach here is typically Porsche, i.e. evolutionary. The styling is immediately identifiable, but unlike the Cayenne's first two generations, it's much conservative, almost anonymous. After the Panamera Sport Turismo, you wouldn't be wrong to consider it disappointing, or even boring.
The front looks, by and large, like an enlarged Macan. So does the side. The Cayenne opts to borrow from another car in the Porsche stable for its tail, adopting a unified taillight that spans the tailgate, much as it does on the Panamera. We wish there were more of the Panamera's panache on the exterior, although we should note that we're only seeing the Cayenne and Cayenne S—more exotic, higher-performance models like the inevitable GTS and Turbo should amp up the excitement accordingly.
The Panamera's influence is more prominent in the cabin, where a 12.3-inch display crowns a bank of touch-sensitive controls on the Cayenne's high center console. The Cayenne's cockpit-like nature is something we're happy to see Porsche hasn't adjusted too much—segregating driver and passenger so much immediately presents a more driving-focused character.
The five-pod gauge cluster carries on into 2019, as well, although it improves on last year's model by adding a second display pod. The two 7.0-inch screens flank a central tachometer, presenting drivers with all the information that's too important to cram onto the main display. Naturally, this content is all reconfigurable, so drivers can organize their ideal driving environment. It's not as dramatic as Audi's stellar Virtual Cockpit, but Porsche's version offers some of that versatility alongside an (unsurprisingly) more traditional look.