Depreciation Station: 2003-2009 Porsche Cayenne

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Story by David S. Wallens • Photo Courtesy Porsche

When Porsche decided to enter the SUV market almost 15 years ago, they didn’t mess around. They jumped in with the Cayenne, a capable, comfortable machine worthy of the Porsche crest.

Once the masses caught wind of the Cayenne’s development, their hands began to wring immediately: Porsche is building an SUV? The brand will be sullied. Sacrilege.

These worries, in typical fashion, turned out to be unfounded. The earth didn’t fall off its axis when the SUV debuted, and the brand’s sports cars didn’t lose any of their shine or status.

In fact, rather than diluting Porsche’s sportster lineup, the Cayenne joined its ranks. Vu Nguyen, executive director of the Porsche Club of America, regularly autocrosses his 2006 Cayenne S. “I often come in midpack, ahead of sports cars,” he reports. “I have grippy Michelin Latitude Sports–great on fast sections with the V8 power.” Weaknesses? “Tight boxes or transitions do not work in its favor,” he concedes.

The big takeaway, he explains, is that the Cayenne does it all: “It’s the Porsche we use the most, be it going to an autocross, to the grocery store, or cross county to Porsche Parade.”

The Cayenne joined Porsche’s American lineup for the 2003 model year in two guises: the V8-powered Cayenne S and the force-inducted Cayenne Turbo. Not only could the Cayenne traverse nearly anything in its path, but the turbocharged model could scoot to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds and run down most ’60s muscle cars in the quarter.

The lineup eventually expanded in both directions, first with an available V6 for 2005 and then with a higher-output Turbo S model a year later. Showing the health of the market, the expansion continued as Porsche unveiled the non-turbo yet still performance-tuned Cayenne GTS for 2008–the same year the model received a design refresh both inside and out. An all-new Cayenne arrived for 2010.

Depreciation has worked its magic on those older Cayennes–as it has on so many other cars in this segment–to make them a deal on today’s market. High-mileage early examples can be found for less than $10,000, while nice first-gens run in the teens. Budget closer to $30,000 to put something like a Turbo or GTS in your driveway. –David S. Wallens

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Vigo UltimaDork
8/9/18 4:29 p.m.

News Flash: Vigo bought one. 

I bought an '06 S. 

Right now the range for decent 1st gen S models (4.5L non turbo v8) is 6-8k with some asking 10 and probably not getting it. There are some in the 4-6k range but they tend to be pretty ugly. The 1g Turbos are in a wide range from 8-15k for the most part. I'm definitely seeing a lot more Turbos at low prices then a year ago, but most do have high miles. 

Looking up the original Nurburgring times for the non-turbo S model is pretty surprising. Rather counterintuitively they seem faster around a race track than in a straight line, where before i would have assumed the opposite. I have not driven a turbo, but i might upgrade into one in a year or two based on how much i like this one so far.

I've been planning to write a long post about it for months. Lazy lazyfrown

Cliff notes is: It feels like a sports car when you're not pushing it, and it still almost feels like a sports car when you are pushing it. It's pretty good!

z31maniac MegaDork
8/9/18 5:23 p.m.

Now we need to know common issues, fixes, and costs!

yupididit UltraDork
8/9/18 7:11 p.m.

In reply to Vigo :

And the momma loves it so win win!

camaroz1985 HalfDork
8/10/18 8:38 a.m.

I have been considering them since about 2009, maybe it is time to jump in.  I have been thinking about getting a third car again for a while.

steelynorm New Reader
8/10/18 9:52 a.m.

In reply to camaroz1985 :

I have been eyeing these for there years as they fell off depreciation cliff into an abysss. 

An uber expensive SUV with a v8 and porsche accoutrements and decent handling for a two ton car!!!!

What keeps me and many away, "Nothing more expensive than a cheap porsche"

i would love to know more about these cars.


CobraSpdRH Reader
8/10/18 9:59 a.m.

All I've ever heard is issues with the coolant bypass pipes, as they need to be replaced with a readily available aftermarket solution, but I'm not sure if that was on all models or just the turbo.

I, too, would love to hear more, as some of these are on their third/fourth owner so even original owner examples with maintenance records have been brought down in resale.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
8/10/18 10:05 a.m.  + Carmax super warranty seems like a winner in my book...

Xceler8x UberDork
8/10/18 10:06 a.m.

"Now we need to know common issues, fixes, and costs!"

Seconded! They might be cheap to buy but what's the Porsche tax with maintenance? Future buyers need to know before they buy a $8k SUV with $10k of deferred, or pending, maintenance. 

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
8/10/18 11:28 a.m.

Well, the rennlist forums --which can be really helpful, or sometimes alarmist-- have this sticky re: Cayenne issues:

Cayenne "Read This First" Sticky Thread

Appleseed MegaDork
8/10/18 1:19 p.m.

Ah, the fat Porsche.

Cotton PowerDork
8/10/18 1:25 p.m.

I’d like to have a used TT model.

Sonic UltraDork
8/10/18 10:17 p.m.

Without the lookout info for perspective buyers this is just a fluff piece.  The topic certainly has interest, the article seems phoned in.  

yupididit UltraDork
8/12/18 12:11 p.m.

Found a manual one in Cali. Had no idea they came with 3 pedals.


Knurled. MegaDork
8/12/18 12:50 p.m.

Mechanically the "V6" models are practically identical to the Touareg.  (The "V6" is a VR6)  The V8 engines are Porsche specific.  The Porsche indie specialist we communicate with says he hates the VR6 because the Porsche salesmen say you don't need to service them except for every 12-15k or something silly, so they drop a timing chain sometime after 60k, and then the owner is pissed off at the wrong person over the situation.


You need Porsche specific scantools to work on them, even just to reset the oil change monitor.  It's probably the same electronics as the Touarag and Q7 but Ross-Tech won't talk to Porsche.

Durty New Reader
8/12/18 8:04 p.m.

Is anyone towing with these?


I know towing regulations are different in Europe, but I remember Porsche using a Cayenne to set some sort of towing record towing an Airbus or something.

camaroz1985 HalfDork
8/13/18 8:23 a.m.

If memory serves me correctly they have something like a 7700 lb tow rating.  Not sure how happy they are with that, or how much that might take off their life, but seems respectable.  That was one of the reasons I started looking at them many years ago.

Woody MegaDork
8/13/18 9:28 a.m.

I always see three or four towing track cars at PCA events, though I haven't noticed which models they are. I did notice that they aren't all diesels though.

Vigo UltimaDork
8/13/18 10:03 a.m.

I bought a hitch for mine but haven't installed it yet. I do plan to use it to tow. From the driver's seat it seems like a pretty excellent tow vehicle for the reasons i usually espouse: Suspension is reasonably stiff vertically, very stiff laterally, it has strong brakes, the hitch isn't far from the rear wheels.  As far as the power issue which rarely bothers me in the first place, the 6spd auto has a very low first gear to get rolling and a 5th gear that isn't punishing to stay in for long periods if 6th is too tall. I think it's going to be excellent, but haven't confirmed. 

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