What Are The Best Years For The Porsche Cayenne? (This one surprised me)


Are you wondering to yourself, “Is it worth buying a used Porsche Cayenne”? They might seem like a tempting bargain – all kinds of amenities with the promise of power for a fraction of the original selling price. 

But it might just be too good to be true. Unfortunately, buying a used Porsche Cayenne involves avoiding a lot of model years due to lack of reliability and numerous recalls. 

If you are looking for the best years to buy, you will need to stick to the newer model years (2018-2020). And this, of course, means you still face a beefy price tag.

What Are The Best Years For The Porsche Cayenne?

The best years for the Porsche Cayenne are unfortunately the newest and most expensive among the used selection. The 2018 through 2020 model years – so far – have fewer reports of problems and are well-liked by some of their owners. 

They also have a lot of low-range capabilities. But they still represent a mixed bag.

Which engine has been the most reliable on the Cayenne? And just how reliable is the Cayenne overall? Is an old Porsche Cayenne even reliable at all? 

Let’s dive deeper into these issues so that you can get a full scope of the Cayenne’s best years and why others should be avoided.

What is the Most Reliable Porsche Cayenne Engine?

When you go to buy a Cayenne, look for one that is powered by either the 4.8-liter V8 or VR6 engine.

A lot of other Cayenne engines are remarkably flawed, but these two are pretty decent. 

The ‘M48’ V8 comes as either a regularly charged (on the S) or turbo-charged version (on the Cayenne Turbo). 

Before 2007, the Cayenne S models were notorious for Lokasil coating fails that led to them scoring their cylinder walls. 

This V8 fixed that problem when it was introduced in 2008.

The VR6 was also introduced that model year. While it is not a perfect engine, it provides an ample amount of power to the Cayenne. 

It does not have the same degree of ignition coil issues as its predecessor, but it is prone to PCV valve failure as the engine gets older.

The 2018 model still made use of these engines. 

In 2019, the third generation was introduced, showing folks a whole new list of powertrain options. 

The base was powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine while the S received a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 engine. The E-Hybrid’s electric motor was paired with the turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine for more efficient performance. 

The Turbo trim got a twin-turbo V8 engine.

How Reliable is a Porsche Cayenne?

The Porsche Cayenne’s reliability is rather spotty

Even the newer Cayennes are showing a lot of problems with regard to quality control. On the 2019 models, people are having problems with the trunk randomly opening while the vehicle is still in motion. 

No error code gets issued, making this a rather dangerous problem to have happen. Porsche does know this is an issue in the 2019 and 2020 models but has yet to do anything to rectify it. 

Problems with squeaky brakes are also being reported on the third generation of Cayennes. Having this happen at 80,000-90,000 miles is not normal and is not something buyers of these vehicles expect. 

ACC and PAS are prone to stop working, and even multiple module changes does not seem to fix the issue. 

On top of all that, the navigation screen will go blank on a whim and will not kick back on until after the vehicle has been restarted multiple times.

Other reports for the newer Cayenne models include the engine timing being off, which is also not something you should expect to have happen at under 100,000 miles.

Yet those are the “good” Cayenne years.

Is an old Porsche Cayenne Reliable?

Let’s get to the older Cayenne models. If you are wondering, “Is an old Porsche Cayenne reliable?”, well, it probably is not. 

The 2003-2006 model years all have problems with the fuel pump failing, which leads to the vehicle not starting or stalling out. 

The fuel pump has to be replaced and costs somewhere between an estimated $1,297 to $1,363. This usually occurs around the 90,000 mile mark.

Those same model years also have problems with coolant leaks. The leak will develop at the thermostat housing, just below the intake manifold gasket.

The cost to replace the thermostat housing is somewhere around $400, and the intake manifold can cost about $450 to replace. 

This issue can develop anywhere between 40,000 and 200,000 miles, sometimes higher, so it is certainly an issue to consider when buying an older Cayenne.

The Cayenne models from 2004 to 2014 are known for their rapid tire wear-down. While this varies a bit depending on your driving style, a more aggressive style of driving will lead to much quicker-than-usual wear in all four tires. 

This will require new tires, of course, as well as wheel alignment and tire rotation.

Along with the tires wearing out early, the brake pads and rotors tend to wear down prematurely as well. 

They can go about 25,000 miles before they are completely worn thin. Regular brake inspections are ideal for the 2004-2014 model years because of this common issue.

The Newer, the Better: the 2018-2020 Model Years

As we already discussed, even the newer used Porsche Cayenne models have their troublesome sets of issues. 

The 2019 and 2020 models have predicted reliability of 3 out of 5, which is slightly below average for the luxury SUV segment.

The upside is that, when they are working as expected, the newer Cayenne models have superb handling capabilities. 

And each one of the available powertrains is able to deliver supple power to the wheels with the help of the automatic transmission. 

The Cayenne has no problem sprinting up to 60 miles per hour in just 5.3 seconds. 

However, if you floor it from a dead stop, you will feel a small amount of lag before the thing really takes off.

The adjustable chassis height and four selectable drive terrain modes help make the Cayenne a capable off-roader, which isn’t exactly something that is common in the luxury segment.

The optional air suspension lifts the Cayenne to a ground clearance of 9.4 inches.

In 2020, Porsche added a line-topping Turbo S E-Hybrid powertrain to the mix. It matches the V8 with a plug-in hybrid system for a power supply of 670 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque. 

Also, its performance-enhancing upgrades include Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control. 

Unfortunately, you will still be paying a hefty price tag for that vehicle.

And don’t even think of trying to flat-tow a Cayenne from any model year. You will botch the transmission system. 

You will definitely need a flat-bed trailer if you want to tow the Cayenne anywhere – and it does often need towing, unfortunately.

Closing Thoughts

Something with the name Porsche slapped on it should be a cool, solid buy, right? Wrong.

The Cayenne is proof that Porsche is struggling to make luxury vehicles that meet the high standards for reliability and safety. The newer model years are decent but still problematic. If you find an older Cayenne, you might want to pass on it and look for something else.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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