I hate flying in the U.S. Crummy planes, crowded airports, endless delays. America can put a man on the moon, but can't fly me from New York to Detroit if there's a thunderstorm near the Great Lakes. Which seems to happen with monotonous regularity.

So when I had to go to Salt Lake City to drive the Kurtis Sport Car that appeared on the cover of the very first issue of Motor Trend back in 1949, it didn't take much persuading for me to book a couple days of vacation, and plan a 2300-mile drive through the wilds of southwestern Utah and then back to L.A. through eastern Nevada. More fun than flying, and it would put the Cayenne's road trip credentials to the test.

So what did I learn?

First, though multi-adjustable, heated, and cooled, the Porsche seats are a little on the firm side for a long day at the wheel. Mrs. MacKenzie and I climbed out of the yellow Cayenne each day with random aches and pains. I don't think it's because we're getting old, because we were just fine after a couple of recent 500-mile stints in a Mercedes S-Class. We'd like a little more seat padding, please.

Second, the hybrid powertrain is pretty efficient. The 5200-pound Porsche averaged a fraction under 20 mpg for a trip that included everything from freeways to backwoods dirt tracks, and more than 1000 miles of two-lane. With the 26.4-gallon tank that came as part of the Premium Package Plus, we could easily count on giant 500-mile leaps between fuel stops.

Along Route 89 from Flagstaff, Arizona, which gently descends almost 3000 feet to cross the Little Colorado River, the Cayenne returned a best of 28.3 mpg, "sailing" on electric power for two miles at one point, the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 eerily silent at 70 mph. We saw a worst of 17.7 mpg on a quiet back road of Nevada, though, to be fair, we had just covered 100 miles in 69 minutes. (You do the math).

The Cayenne is a great way to see America. Though the seats are firm, you ride high, wide, and handsome, allowing for excellent views of epic landscapes, and when you venture onto the dirt, the Porsche quickly transforms from a buttoned-down road-runner to a relaxed trail cruiser. Simply set the air suspension to comfort mode, and adjust the ride height. We dialed up the full 10.5 inches of available ground clearance to negotiate some frozen, rutted snow 9000 feet up Hell's Backbone Road in southern Utah, and 30 minutes later we were running hard through the twisties on Route 12 toward Bryce Canyon with the shocks in sport mode and the Cayenne riding low and flat over its 20-inch wheels.

Fast, efficient, and effortlessly capable of crossing continents: That sounds like the classic definition of a Grand Tourer - a GT. Throw in all-road, all-weather capability, and you have a GT well-suited to America's vast distances, varied roads, and volatile climate. You have the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid.


Our Cars
Months/miles in service 3/6673
Avg econ/CO2 19.5mpg/0.996 lb/mi
Energy cons 173 kW-hr/100 mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $0
Normal-wear cost $0