Ordering a new long term vehicle is a lot like life: sometimes you have to look past the obvious. Because that's where the real story sometimes lies, even though it sometimes means taking one for the team. Especially with the 2011 Porsche Cayenne.

"Owning" our new Porsche Cayenne long-termer might not seem like taking one for the team, but bear with me. I could have ordered the Turbo. After all, a 500-horsepower SUV that'll nail 0-60 in the low 4s and has a claimed top speed of 172 mph sounds wickedly entertaining. But, no, in the interests of journalistic endeavor, I ordered the S Hybrid.

Why? It's technically intriguing. The powertrain is composed of a 333-horse, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission with a compact 47-horse electric motor. Total system output is 380 horses and 427 pound-feet, compared with the 400 horses and 369 pound-feet delivered by the 4.8-liter V-8 in the regular Cayenne S. It's also philosophically interesting. While today's diesels can deliver impressive performance and a diesel is offered in Euro-spec Cayennes (and now the Panamera), Porsche engineers are not entirely convinced oil-burners are right for the brand. So this is Zuffenhausen's alternative: a performance-oriented hybrid. And I want to find out whether the hardware delivers on the promise.

It didn't take more than a few clicks on the options configurator to send the S Hybrid's sticker soaring from the $68,675 base price to $93,285. The 20-inch Cayenne SportDesign II wheels added $2730, XM radio $750, and a trailer hitch $650. The Premium Package Plus cost $11,650, but it includes the air suspension with PASM, the 26. 4-gallon extended fuel tank, and 14-way power seats with memory-among other goodies-that I figure will make the S Hybrid a killer road-trip vehicle.

Okay, now about that color. It's called Sand Yellow, costs $3140 extra, and we ordered it because the photo/video guys wanted something to liven up the long-term fleet's color palette. Not my first choice, I'll admit, but, hey, I'll take one for the team.


Our Vehicle
Base price $68,675
Price as tested $93,285
Vehicle layout Front engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.0L/333-hp/324-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 plus 47-hp/295-lb-ft electric motor; 380-hp/427-lb-ftcomb
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r dist) 5202 lb (52/48%)
Wheelbase 114.0 in
Length x width x height 190.8 x 76.3 x 67.4 in
0-60 mph 5.6 sec
Quarter mile 14.3 sec @ 95.7 mph
Braking, 60-0 106 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.88 g (avg)
MT figure eight 26.0 sec @ 0.68 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 20/24 mpg
Energy cons, city/hwy 169/140 kW-hrs/100 mi
CO2 emissions 0.90 lb/mi
Total mileage 3312 mi
Average fuel econ 20.4 mpg
Unresolved problem areas None