2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo first drive review: All this and more
Porsche's new electric wagon is definitely the Taycan to get.
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
It's not hard to get stoked about the Taycan Cross Turismo; who could resist a car with "Porsche," "electric" and "wagon" as its descriptors? Yet this new Taycan variant isn't just a nifty foray into the hashtag-active-lifestyle realm. The Cross Turismo is more functional, looks rad and doesn't skimp on performance. This is definitely the Taycan to get.
Obviously, the Cross Turismo scores big points on looks alone. I'm glad the production car's design stays true to the original Mission E Cross Turismo concept from 2018, though holy smokes do I wish Porsche offered some chonky all-terrain tires to really complete the look. Long, low and wide, from some angles the Cross Turismo almost looks more shooting brake than wagon. Look at it from the front three-quarter and tell me you don't get Ferrari FF vibes. (Just, you know, not as ugly.)
Porsche is smart to stick with that rugged appearance. After all, much as enthusiasts get all starry-eyed for wagons, the body style is still a tough sell in the US, especially alongside the Taycan sedan, which is super attractive in its own right. But thanks to a bit of crossover cosplay, the Cross Turismo has a real shot at success. In fact, Porsche expects Cross Turismos to account for a much higher percentage of Taycan sales than the Sport Turismo does for the Panamera.
2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo is a fun, functional EV
Black fender extensions, blocky rocker panels and some wheel arch cladding are all standard, and they're finished in gloss black on the range-topping Turbo S. An Off Road Design Package adds a bit more cladding, though my Gentian Blue Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo test car doesn't have this option. (The cars in our original debut story do, however.) Personally, I love the extra-butch look; the Off Road Design Package is a $1,780 option I'd for sure get. Unfortunately, those ugly-ass 19-inch aero wheels from the base Taycan sedan come standard on the Cross Turismo, but a number of prettier 19-, 20- and 21-inch options are available, including several Cross Turismo-specific designs.
Here's where things get a little complicated. The Cross Turismo has an 0.8-inch higher ride height than a Taycan sedan, and the Off Road pack bumps that up by an additional 0.4 inches. However, every Taycan has the same maximum ride height. When you select the Gravel drive mode, the non-ORDP cars raise by 0.4 inches while the Off Road Design versions do not. Basically, all Taycan Cross Turismos have the same range of suspension travel, you just start at different heights depending on whether or not you pick the ORDP option. Got it?
At 195.8 inches stem to stern, the Cross Turismo is 0.4 inches longer than a Taycan sedan, and anywhere from 0.6 to 1.2 inches taller, depending on configuration. The Cross Turismo isn't much heavier, either. Comparing the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo with an equivalent Taycan Turbo sedan, the difference is a scant 77 pounds.
The big-deal differences are found inside, where the longroof shape pays dividends in both headroom and cargo capacity. The Cross Turismo has 3.6 inches of additional rear headroom and 1.4 cubic feet of extra luggage space. Fold the rear seats flat and the Cross Turismo's hatch expands to 42.8 cubic feet, which is smaller than most compact crossovers, but still big enough for the occasional Home Depot run or week off the grid. Don't forget, there's an extra 2.9 cubic feet of space under the hood, too.
All Cross Turismos have the Taycan's larger 93.4-kilowatt-hour battery, and four versions will be offered at launch. The 4S, Turbo and Turbo S have the same power specs as their sedan counterparts, but the base Taycan 4 is a model unique to the Cross Turismo. While the base Taycan sedan uses a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive setup, the 4 CT has all-wheel drive thanks to its dual-motor arrangement. This means the 4 CT has more torque and better acceleration than a base Taycan sedan with the performance battery. Does this mean a Taycan 4 sedan is in the cards? Maybe. But that's a topic for another day.
In the case of my Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo tester, that 93.4-kWh battery puts out 670 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque (or 616 hp if you don't spec the Sport Chrono pack with launch control). Accelerating to 60 mph takes 3.1 seconds, which is only 0.1 second slower than a Taycan Turbo sedan. Top speed is limited to 155 mph in the Cross Turismo, compared to 161 mph in the sedan, both of which are moot points here in the US, unless spending time in jail is on your bucket list.
As for the all-important question of range, that's still TBD. The EPA isn't too kind to the Taycan, with the government agency estimating a max range of 227 miles for a Taycan 4S sedan with the performance battery option. In my own testing, I've found the Taycan's real-world range to be much higher, so I'm expecting similar performance from the Cross Turismo. The wagon's slight weight and aerodynamic penalties will likely affect things, but by how much is currently unclear. One bonus: Buy a Cross Turismo and three years of free charging at Electrify America stations is included.
On the road, the best thing about the Cross Turismo is that it drives just like the Taycan sedan. Even with its taller stance, the CT's super-low center of gravity means it's stable and planted at highway speeds, and it's happy to hustle through sweeping corners on winding backroads without much drama. Options like rear-axle steering and Porsche's Dynamic Chassis Control add to the Cross Turismo's fantastic agility, and you can get expensive ceramic composite brakes if you plan to do a lot of spirited driving. Speaking of brakes, I'd be remiss not to complain about the Taycan's lack of a strong regenerative braking mode, simply because I'm the kind of person who loves one-pedal EV driving. But hey, you do you.
When it comes time to Cross some Turismo, the Taycan wagon is definitely better suited to rugged driving, but not by much. Even with the increased ride height, the CT still sits lower to the ground than most compact crossovers, and though all-season tires are available with some wheels, examples like my test car have summer rubber. Even so, at least you won't clench your teeth (and butt) while approaching steep driveways. The ride quality on broken pavement and dirt roads is noticeably better, too.
There's an old, unmaintained road that runs alongside the notorious Grapevine section of California's I-5 freeway, which proves to be a perfect test route for the Cross Turismo. This road was the original route up and over the mountains, and despite a few smooth sections, it's pretty rough and ragged, with the occasional dirt stretch and some rocky passes brought on by decades of weather and erosion. It's a road I probably wouldn't run in a standard Taycan for fear of scraping the underbelly, but with the Turbo Cross Turismo in Gravel mode, it's a piece of cake, getting me up dusty trails to vista points and through slightly tricky rutted paths. The Cross Turismo absolutely does not lend itself to any sort of wheel-lifting, chassis-flexing off-roading, but the added "oh yeah, I can drive over this" peace of mind is certainly worth something.
The Cross Turismo offers the same driver-assistance systems as the Taycan sedan, though as usual, all the good stuff is optional. Parking assist, a 360-degree camera, lane-change assist, adaptive cruise control or Porsche's InnoDrive tech (adaptive cruise plus lane-keep assist) all cost extra, though you can also access them through the Function on Demand feature built into Porsche's connected car services. The Taycan sedan's whole infotainment interface carries over, too, with a 10.9-inch central multimedia touchscreen and optional passenger display.
A base 2021 Taycan 4 Cross Turismo will cost you $92,250, including $1,350 for destination, which puts it between the RWD Taycan sedan with the bigger battery and the standard Taycan 4S. In addition to the performance battery and air suspension, Cross Turismos come standard with a panoramic glass roof, which I need to complain about for a moment. It seems cool to have this feature, but the glass isn't tinted enough to really block out the sun on a bright day, there's no shade and it doesn't open. A metal roof is offered in other countries, and it's the cool double-bubble style roof from the Taycan sedan, too. For a company that's almost stubbornly hellbent on offering a million a-la-carte options, it's a weird omission for US-spec cars.
Stepping up the range, the 4S, Turbo and Turbo S Cross Turismo are priced at $111,650, $154,850 and $188,950, respectively, including destination, differences of anywhere from $930 to $2,600 compared to similarly equipped sedans. I'm sure someone will blow up my inbox about how you can get a Tesla with more power and more range for less money, but frankly I'd rather have any Cross Turismo over a frumpy Model X or Model Y. And besides, Porsche isn't out to compete with Tesla, anyway.
The Taycan as a whole is off to a great start in the US, outselling the 718 Boxster, 718 Cayman and Panamera models (combined!) through the first quarter of 2021. The Cross Turismo takes everything I like about the Taycan sedan and adds a helping of functionality (plus it looks awesome), and with lifestyle-y options like roof rails, cargo boxes and attachments for e-bikes, it only increases this EV's appeal.