If you were to go out and buy your perfect overlanding rig, what would you choose? Maybe a Jeep Wrangler, or a Toyota 4Runner or Tacoma? Odds are you wouldn’t pick a 2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. After all, it has a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 engine with 500 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque and its massive 21-inch wheels don’t suggest serious off-road credentials. Look inside, however, and you’ll see just how underrated the Cayenne is as an off-roading rig.
Like our old 2004 Volkswagen Touareg, this Porsche Cayenne Turbo has adjustable air suspension. Set it in its highest mode, and you’ll get a respectable 10.5 inches of ground clearance. Not only that, but there’s also some underbody protection to keep vital components from getting damaged off-road. You can even get an optional skid plate group to add more armor underneath. Apart from the sheer amount of grunt, it also has a center and a rear differential lock — a rare option — to send that power exactly where it needs to be. Of course, you may expect a lot of technology on board since it cost more than $130,000 in 2012, or $145,000 in today’s money.
Our plans for the Cayenne
Normally, we shy away from buying black cars here at TFL. Why do we do that? Because they’re impossible to film, impossible to keep clean, and are generally just a headache to deal with as opposed to a more camera-friendly color. However, our goal with this second-generation Cayenne is to turn it into something like a limited-run Transsyberia. Those cars were black with bright orange wheels, stripes down the side, you name it. Bizarre? Yes, a bit, but it should look pretty cool when we’ve actually done it. Since we’re in Colorado, though, our Cayenne will be the “Transrockies” edition.
Beyond that, we naturally plan to test our $22,000 Cayenne Turbo’s off-road ability by putting it through some major trials in the Rocky Mountains. stay tuned to see how that turns out throughout this series!