Best & Worst Porsche Cayenne Years

We've ranked each Porsche Cayenne model for every generation so you can avoid picking the worst Porsche Cayenne years and pick the best one.

In this guide, I’ll analyze all Porsche Cayenne generations, revealing Cayenne’s best years to buy and the worst Porsche Cayenne years to avoid.

Leveraging extensive research and data from sources like NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and owner reviews, we offer an in-depth analysis of each Cayenne model year, emphasizing their strengths and pitfalls.

You’ll gain insights into Porsche Cayenne’s yearly reliability, mainly focusing on performance, common issues, recall history, and safety ratings.

Let’s dive right in!

Related:Best & Worst Porsche Macan Years

Table of ContentsShow

Porsche Cayenne Generations

Introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model, the Porsche Cayenne marked Porsche’s inaugural venture into the SUV segment.

A revolutionary blend of sporty dynamics and SUV practicality, the Cayenne offered a lineup of powerful engines, superior handling, and a luxurious interior, setting a new benchmark for performance-oriented SUVs.

The table below outlines the Porsche Cayenne’s generational transformations from its debut in 2003 to the present day:

1st generation (9PA(955/957))2003-2010
2nd generation (92A(958.1/958.2))2011-2018
3rd generation (9Y0)2019-Present

As the Porsche Cayenne underwent changes and improvements across each generation, understanding these shifts might prove pivotal when determining the best model year to pursue.

Porsche Cayenne Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

In our assessment of the Porsche Cayenne’s best and worst years, our categorizations are drawn from a comprehensive range of considerations, such as:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

The upcoming graph provides a visual representation, amalgamating ratings from the sources above.

Porsche Cayenne Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Following the graph, a table will detail our categorizations of best, neutral, and worst Porsche Cayenne model years.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (9PA(955/957))2006
2nd generation (92A(958.1/958.2))2015
3rd generation (9Y0)2020

“Neutral Years” represents a balanced performance, without major recalls or owner complaints, but also top-tier accolades.

Certain aspects, such as NHTSA recalls, adversely impact a model’s reliability. The more complaints and recalls a model year accumulates, the lower its dependability.

Let’s dive into the Porsche Cayenne’s best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Porsche Cayenne 1st Generation (2003-2010)

Porsche Cayenne 1st generation 2003 model
The 2003 Porsche Cayenne

The first-generation Porsche Cayenne marked a bold step for the brand into the realm of luxury SUVs.

2003 and 2004 are the Porsche Cayenne years you should avoid in this generation, while 2006-2010 are Cayenne’s best years to buy.

The Best Years: 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010

Backed by our research, I can confirm that 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010 are the most reliable Porsche Cayenne years in its first generation.

A choice of sturdy engine options existed, such as the efficient 3.6L VR6 engine yielding 290hp and an impressive 3.2L V6 with an mpg of around 13 city/19 highway.

The Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo offered V8 engines with 385hp and 500hp respectively.

The Turbo S variant in 2006 even boasted an astonishing 520hp. Transmission options generally revolved around the refined 6-speed Tiptronic S automatic.

From a technological standpoint, these years included Porsche’s PCM (Porsche Communication Management) with navigation, Bluetooth, and upgraded audio systems.

Advanced safety features, including Porsche’s Stability Management System and a slew of airbags, became standard, emphasizing passenger safety.

While these years are recommended, it’s worth noting the 2008 model had some complaints regarding coolant leaks, albeit significantly fewer than the earlier models.

The Neutral Years: 2005

2005 was a turning point. Powertrain options like the 3.2L V6 engine provided decent performance, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel consumption averaged around 14 city/18 highway mpg. Technological enhancements were incremental, with improvements in the PCM and audio experience.

However, this model shared some recalls from its predecessors, mainly concerning fuel leaks and minor electrical glitches.

The Worst Years: 2003, 2004

The poorest Porsche Cayenne years of the first generation – 2003 and 2004 bear the brunt of design imperfections, so it is wise to avoid these years.

Critical issues were related to the engine cooling system, including leaking plastic coolant pipes, leading to overheating.

Driveshaft failures and erratic behavior in electrical components like headlights and door locks further marred their reputation.

Numerous recalls were issued addressing concerns from faulty fuel pump flanges causing leaks to malfunctioning seat belts and electrical irregularities.

As Porsche’s first SUV venture, these years served as a learning curve, setting the stage for subsequent refinements.

See NHTSA 2003, 2004 Porsche Cayenne recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Porsche Cayenne 2nd Generation (2011-2018)

Porsche Cayenne 2nd generation 2011 model
The 2011 Porsche Cayenne

The second generation of the Porsche Cayenne, built from 2011 to 2018, sought to expand on its predecessor’s successes with a perfect blend of style, performance, and luxury.

2015-2018 are the second-generation Porsche Cayenne’s best and most reliable years worth buying, while 2011 and 2012 are the worst Porsche Cayenne years you should avoid at all costs.

The Best Years: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Which years Porsche Cayenne are the most reliable? The facelift years of the second-generation Porsche Cayenne – 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 are undeniably the best model years to buy second-hand.

Introduced during this period was a range of performance-oriented powertrains, including the 3.6L EA390 VR6 in the base model, which delivered 300hp.

Those leaning towards efficiency might have opted for the 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel with its admirable fuel economy.

Also, the Cayenne S and Turbo had potent 3.6L and 4.8L V8 engines, providing 420hp and 520hp, respectively.

Technological enhancements were evident, with the PCM system now featuring a 7-inch touchscreen, enhanced navigation, and smartphone integration.

Advanced driver assistance systems, including lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control, ensured safer commutes.

The Neutral Years: 2013, 2014

These mid-cycle Porsche Cayenne model years – 2013 and 2014 brought about minor refinements in both performance and amenities.

With the reliable 3.6L V6 base engine and the upscale 4.8L V8 in the Turbo variant, there was no shortage of choices.

Standard features like the 7-inch touchscreen PCM, Bluetooth connectivity, and a refined audio system were appreciated, though not revolutionary.

While these years enjoyed fewer complaints than their immediate predecessors, they also didn’t bring many groundbreaking changes, earning their neutral stance.

The Worst Years: 2011, 2012

What are the Porsche Cayenne years to avoid? Our research from NHTSA data like owner complaints and recall history concludes that 2011 and 2012 were the worst years for the second-generation Porsche Cayenne.

Owners flagged persistent issues like coolant leaks from cracked plastic pipes, camshaft controller failures leading to engine stalls, and transfer case malfunctions.

These problems were amplified by recalls concerning missing brake pedal clips, resulting in braking loss, problematic camshaft controllers, and exterior lighting challenges like the risk of headlamps detaching.

See NHTSA 2011, 2012 Porsche Cayenne recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Porsche Cayenne 3rd Generation (2019-Present)

Porsche Cayenne 3rd generation 2019 model
The 2019 Porsche Cayenne

Porsche’s commitment to refining and elevating the Cayenne experience was evident in its third generation.

2019 is the worst year of the third-generation Porsche Cayenne, while 2020, 2022, and 2023 are Cayenne’s best years to buy.

The Best Years: 2020, 2022, 2023

The best years of the latest generation’s Porsche Cayenne – 2020, 2022, and 2023 showcased Porsche’s dedication to providing an exceptional driving experience.

The Cayenne’s powertrain options diversified and matured during these years.

A particular highlight was the introduction of a more efficient 3.0L EA839T V6 engine with 335hp in the base model.

Those seeking a sturdy performance could gravitate towards the Cayenne Turbo with its 4.0L V8, pumping out an exhilarating 541hp.

Technology was front and center with the inclusion of the 12.3-inch touchscreen, advanced navigation, and Porsche’s advanced communication management system.

Safety was further reinforced with the expansion of driver assistance systems, encompassing features like traffic sign recognition and night vision assist.

The Neutral Years: 2021

2021 served as a bridge year for the Cayenne, streamlining features introduced in previous models.

The available powertrains, like the efficient 3.0L V6 and the robust 4.0L V8, remained broadly consistent, ensuring reliable performance.

Technological and safety features from earlier years were improved, but no significant changes were made this year.

It offered a reliable, albeit familiar, Cayenne experience, landing it in the neutral category.

The Worst Years: 2019

What are the bad years in Porsche Cayenne’s current generation? As for now, we categorized 2019 as the Cayenne year to avoid. Here is why:

Owners reported battery failures attributed to software errors, which could result in power loss and stalling.

Recalls during this year included issues like the absence of a visual warning for brake pad wear.

While the year introduced many advancements that would be refined in subsequent models, these initial hiccups made 2019 the worst year for the Cayenne.

See NHTSA 2019 Porsche Cayenne recalls and complaints.

Porsche Cayenne Resale Values

Below is a graph illustrating Porsche Cayenne’s average resale values across different model years.

Porsche Cayenne Average List Price


Now, it’s evident that 2006-2010, 2015-2018, 2020, 2022, and 2023 are the Porsche Cayenne’s best years in terms of reliability and features.

It’s also clear that 2003, 2004, 2011, 2012, and 2019 are the worst Porsche Cayenne years to avoid.

Which Porsche Cayenne model year aligns with your needs and why?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.