2008 Porsche Cayenne Review
2008 Porsche Cayenne Review
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Used Cayenne for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Brisk performance, sports car handling, comfortable cabin, solid towing capacity.
- Options are pricey, cargo capacity falls short of rivals.
After skipping a year, the Porsche Cayenne returns and is revamped for 2008. All engines receive more power this year. There's also a revised suspension for even sharper handling, a new GTS trim level and a few new luxury and convenience features in the form of an optional power liftgate, adjustable cargo tie-downs and adaptive headlights. Except for a mild face-lift and new taillights, the body and interior are carried over.
While the 2008 Porsche Cayenne only receives subtle exterior styling changes, the significant upgrades to the engines and suspension produce dramatic performance improvements. If you want the best luxury SUV in terms of all-around on-road performance, this is the one to get.
Although it initially raised more than a few eyebrows and drew many a scowl from die-hard sports car enthusiasts, Porsche's first and only SUV has proven to be a big success. Since its introduction five years ago, the Cayenne crossover SUV has provided sports car fanciers with their own ute that combines athletic moves with a measure of utility. It also allowed the company to survive, as Porsche needed something of a volume seller to remain independent. Although many car buffs were initially disgruntled at the thought of this great sports car company jumping on the SUV bandwagon, the Cayenne has proven to be both a savior and a damn fine vehicle.
For 2008, the Porsche Cayenne enters its second generation. Most of the changes are under the skin, and indeed the body shell and interior are mostly untouched. Wider headlights, a reshaped hood and front fenders and a deeper chin spoiler give the 2008 Cayenne a slightly more aggressive stance than last year's model. More energetic power plants mean even the V6-equipped Cayenne can wear its Porsche crest with pride. The V6's output now stands at 290 horsepower (an increase of 43 hp). The V8-powered Cayenne S makes 385 hp (an increase of 45 hp), while the new GTS model has an enhanced version of that V8 that pumps out 405 hp.
The top-shelf Cayenne Turbo continues to be available, and it kicks out an astounding 500 hp (an increase of 50 hp). Zero-to-60-mph times range from around 8 seconds flat for the V6 to around 5 seconds flat for the Turbo. Handling, always a forte of the Cayenne, is even better now thanks to optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC). This system uses automatically adjusting stabilizer bars to do an amazing job of virtually eliminating body roll when the SUV is driven hard on a winding road.
Is all of this enough to keep the 2008 Porsche Cayenne on top of its game? When it debuted, the Cayenne essentially had the BMW X5 as its lone rival in the high-performance crossover SUV segment. Now it must also contend with the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and revised Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG. For maximum performance, we still think the Porsche earns the podium as its acceleration, braking and handling can't be beat. But it's not without fault. Foremost, it follows Porsche tradition of being expensive, particularly when fitted with options. It's also somewhat lacking in utility, while fussy controls and a small backseat detract from its luxury ambience. So if performance is a secondary concern for you, one of the Cayenne's competitors might suit you better.
Performance & mpg
The Cayenne and Cayenne Tiptronic both come with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 290 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The Cayenne S packs a 4.8-liter V8 with 385 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. In the Cayenne GTS, this engine produces 405 hp. The Cayenne Turbo has a twin-turbocharged version of the V8 that makes a mighty 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. All have a six-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission (except the base Cayenne and GTS with the six-speed manual) and all have all-wheel drive. A low-range gear is provided for off-roading, but buyers should note that all Cayennes come with street-biased, all-season tires. Anyone planning to do serious off-highway work in Porsche's SUV should invest in a set of all-terrain tires.
The base Porsche Cayenne is suitably quick: The six-speed manual runs zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, according to Porsche, while the Tiptronic version takes 7.9 ticks. The Cayenne S hits 60 in 6.4 seconds, while the Cayenne GTS should get the job done in either the high 5s (manual transmission) or low 6s (automatic). We're told that the Turbo stampedes to 60 in just 4.9 seconds. Top speeds range from 141 mph for the V6 versions to 171 mph for the Turbo. Towing capacity for all Cayennes is 7,700 pounds.
Antilock disc brakes are standard on the 2008 Porsche Cayenne, as are front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Stability control is standard as well, and the system now features a rollover sensor. Active bi-xenon headlights and front and rear park assist are standard on the Turbo, and available on all other trims.
In terms of performance and handling, the 2008 Cayenne fully lives up to its Porsche heritage. The new GTS model is a particularly sporting drive thanks to its lower ride height, standard manual transmission and downright bawdy sport exhaust. Swift acceleration from nearly any speed is always at hand, even in the V6 models, while cornering is flat and confident, especially if the Cayenne is equipped with the new PDCC option. The ride is firm but never harsh and the brakes are strong and linear. The Cayenne can also be a capable SUV when it comes to off-road work, but only if you specify the optional off-road package.
With a 911-style instrument cluster (meaning large, clear gauges) and left-side ignition switch, the Cayenne's interior is all Porsche. Sadly, this means that the climate and audio controls are comprised of many small, look-alike buttons that take some getting used to. Otherwise, materials quality is superb, as every major surface feels worthy of a vehicle with such a large price tag, right down to the richly carpeted footwells. Fit and finish, especially with the optional wood or metallic accent packages, is excellent, and the front seats are firmly supportive. Rear-seat comfort is mediocre, however, and cargo capacity, at 62.5 cubic feet, is on the small side for a midsize luxury SUV.
2008 Porsche Cayenne models
The 2008 Porsche Cayenne midsize luxury crossover SUV comes in five trim levels, which are essentially defined by the powertrain fitted to each. The base Cayenne comes with a V6, along with 17-inch wheels, automatic climate control, a 12-speaker CD audio system, foglamps, full power accessories (including front seats), leather seating, a trip computer and a power liftgate. This base model comes with a manual transmission, but most buyers will select the Cayenne Tiptronic, which has the same equipment but adds the six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.
The automatic-only Cayenne S is similarly equipped, but is V8-powered and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels. The Cayenne GTS adds a more powerful V8 and a sport exhaust system as well as a standard six-speed manual transmission, 21-inch alloy wheels, an active air suspension and a 20mm-lower ride height than other Cayennes. The top-of-the-line Cayenne Turbo comes with a turbocharged V8, active air suspension, specialized front and rear styling, brushed aluminum body accents, a Bose audio system, a navigation system, front and rear park assist, heated seats (front and rear), bi-xenon adaptive headlights, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and an Alcantara headliner.
Many of the Turbo's features are available as options on the lesser trims. Other option highlights include various wheels (ranging up to 21 inches in size), a large four-section panoramic moonroof, insulated glass, the PDCC active antiroll bar system, various wood and aluminum interior accents, rearview camera, satellite radio, CD changer and the Off-Road Technology Package, which provides a locking rear differential and skid plates.
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
More than I expected in a SUV
Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
You wonder how they do it, other than you being high off of the ground you hardly notice the weight and size of this car. No it doesn't have Porsche speed, but it's plenty quick for any base luxury SUV. I had a Discovery 2 and a 540i. It really drives a like the 540i, but not as quick, it's very similar to a 528i or an Audi A6 3.0. As to the Disco, the Cayenne is far more nimbler and … much more responsive. It's a European sports sedan that's tall, big, and can go off-road (if that's important to you, check out videos on Youtube).
5 out of 5 stars
Better than I had anticipated Reliability
S 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A)
Among the best SUV's I have ever owned. I am also a Porsche 911C4 owner and I am very impressed with how Porsche designed the Cayenne. However, I am disappointed that for a 2008 vehicle, the bluetooth function is not on par with a vehicle that costs much less. In fact, the bluetooth function is absent altogether, and interfacing mobile electronics or other devices is not possible without … a significant aftermarket appliance cost. Additionally, the CD changer has known problems that are not able to be repaired inexpensively. If one can overlook these drawbacks, then the Porsche Cayenne remains a solid vehicle and extremely reliable.
4 out of 5 stars
This Car Rocks!
Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
I've owned a BMW M Roadster, 4 Audi's & 3 Porsches including Audi "S4's as well as Carrera CR4's, and I can tell you I love my Cayenne. Heavy and not so fast, but all Porsche. Stock, the suspension feels as refined as any SUV on the planet and better than most cars including my wife's Audi A4. Built like a rock solid as one too, comfortable, luxurious and a good compromise between speed … and economy. We just traveled across country as a family (6,000 miles) and we all still love this car. Can you say that!
5 out of 5 stars
10 year owner
Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
I have owned a 2008 Porsche Cayenne S for 10 years as of 11/2017. The maintance is expensive that’s the only drew back to owning the awesome vehicle. The vehicle did not required any major repairs until this year. Outside of maintenance cost this vehicle handles the road extremely well and has and awesomely smooth ride even.
Features & Specs
More about the 2008 Porsche Cayenne
More About This Model
The 2008 Porsche Cayenne celebrates the success of the controversial four-wheel-drive sport-utility from that little sports car company in Germany. It's hard to believe now, but five years ago the world wasn't sure if a Porsche SUV would be a good thing.
As it turned out, the Porsche Cayenne has been a good thing for a lot of people. Worldwide sales of the Cayenne are running at double the rate of 20,000 units per year that Porsche originally forecasted. North American Porsche dealers have cashed in, too, as the Cayenne has helped them sell 60-percent more Porsches in 2006 than they did in 2002, the year preceding the Cayenne's introduction.
Porsche calls the 2008 Porsche Cayenne the second generation of its high-performance SUV, although the new vehicle doesn't look much different to us aside from a revised front end and squintier headlights.
But it's another story entirely when you mash the throttle to the floor.
Porsche went right to the point with the new Cayenne, going straight from the current 2006 model to the new 2008 version and skipping 2007 entirely.
Porsche engineers also went right to the point when they developed a range of new engines for the 2008 Cayenne. They enlarged displacement and switched to direct fuel injection. The charge-cooling effect of direct fuel injection permits a higher compression ratio without the risk of detonation, which significantly improves horsepower and torque.
The Cayenne's base V6 engine has been derided as too weak to sit beneath a Porsche hood, yet now we think it's a worthy entry-level offering. The angle between the V6's cylinder banks shrinks from 15 degrees to 10.6 degrees, while displacement grows from 3.2 liters to 3.6 liters. The V6 now pumps out 290 horsepower and 283 pound-feet of torque, some 43 hp and 54 lb-ft more than last year. Porsche claims 0-60-mph acceleration drops from about 9.5 seconds to the low 8-second bracket.
The normally aspirated V8 in the Cayenne S receives a similar treatment. Displacement increases from 4.5 liters to 4.8 liters and the compression ratio increases to a mind-boggling 12.5:1. A dry-sump lubrication system improves efficiency, while Porsche's VarioCam Plus variable timing extends the power band. Together these changes give the Cayenne S's 4.8-liter V8 some 385 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, a significant improvement over the 340 hp and 310 lb-ft ratings for the previous V8.
Atop the range sits the Cayenne Turbo. Apart from the two turbochargers (one per bank) and a compression ratio of only 10.5:1, the list of improvements to this 4.8-liter V8 is similar to that of the Cayenne S. With an output of 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, the 2008 Turbo nearly achieves the output of the 2006 Turbo S (which has been removed from the 2008 lineup). We expect the Cayenne Turbo to accelerate to 60 mph in about 5 seconds.
Thrift for the swift
As a further bonus, the new engines achieve better fuel-economy relative to the engines they replace. But it's hard to tell by looking at a 2008 Cayenne's window sticker. Starting with 2008 models, the EPA has changed its testing methodology.
For example, the 2008 Cayenne V6's official EPA rating of 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway looks 1 mpg worse than 2006 Cayenne EPA figures. But on an apples-to-apples basis, the more powerful 2008 Cayennes actually perform 1-2 mpg better than their 2006 counterparts.
As before, the six-speed Tiptronic S is the only transmission paired with the V8. A Cayenne V6 can still be had with either a six-speed manual or the Tiptronic automatic. The Cayenne's full-time four-wheel-drive system, complete with 2.7:1 low-range gearing, is carried over entirely.
The Tiptronic has two modes. In the Normal position, the transmission is calibrated for fuel economy, including 2nd-gear starts. Engaging Sport mode produces 1st-gear launches, more aggressive throttle pedal action and high-rpm upshifts. During our test-driving in southern Spain, we found the effects to be quite dramatic, especially for the Cayenne V6.
Improve your cornering attitude
The Cayenne's basic suspension carries over, albeit with a few detail tweaks. Porsche's height-adjustable air suspension and PASM adaptive damping are standard for the Turbo, while it's a $2,990 option package for the Cayenne or Cayenne S.
The big news for the Cayenne chassis is Stuttgart's all-new active stabilizer bar system known as Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC).
PDCC is not simply a new name for last year's Advanced Off-Road Technology Package, a system that decoupled the stabilizer bars when the transfer case was in low range. PDCC can still do this, but this new system continuously adjusts the influence of both stabilizer bars to suit any driving condition.
In corners, both bars firm up to limit body roll, holding it to virtually zero degrees in most situations. When the Cayenne is driven aggressively, the rear bar firms up more than the front one, improving the sport-ute's turn-in and reducing understeer. To forestall a loss of control in panic situations when the rear end loses grip, the front bar stiffens fully while the rear one decouples, helping to stabilize the vehicle.
PDCC pays dividends in the Cayenne's ride quality, too. On lumpy lanes, computer logic decides when to soften one or both bars to help the wheels respond to the pavement without tossing the passengers around. The computer can even generate forces in the suspension to neutralize external disturbances. The character of the PDCC's response is tied into the PASM's adaptive damping, which has three modes.
We were frankly amazed at the ability of PDCC and PASM to cope with the narrow, bumpy mountain roads of Andalucía. All three Cayenne variants went through the corners without a hint of body roll, while generating impressive grip. Yet it's also clear that the new suspension produces a far more serene ride than the current Cayenne generation can deliver. The $3,510 cost of PDCC is money well spent.
The more things change...
In keeping with Porsche tradition, the exterior changes for 2008 Cayennes are subtle and functional. It looks a little stouter thanks to a deep chin spoiler, reshaped hood, resculpted front fenders and new headlights. Other changes include a longer rear roof spoiler and reshaped taillights. All told, the drag coefficient drops from 0.39 Cd to 0.35 Cd.
Cayenne V6 models come standard with 17-inch wheels and 235/65R17 tires, while the V8s come with 18-inch wheels and 255/55R18 tires. A lengthy options list includes 19-, 20- and even 21-inch wheel-and-tire packages.
Because there are no significant changes to the Cayenne's body shell, everything looks the same inside and the interior controls are in all the familiar places. The only significant additions are a new power-operated tailgate and a tire-pressure monitoring system, both of which are standard on all Cayennes bound for the U.S.
More bang, a few more bucks
Once it hits dealerships March 3, the 2008 Cayenne V6 will start at $44,295, just $1,280 more than before — and making it still the lowest-priced Porsche you can buy. The price of a Cayenne S changes least, rising just $780 to $58,015. The step up to the Turbo is a big one, as it goes for $94,595. Still, the Cayenne Turbo's 500 hp gives it performance that's on par with the current $112,415 Cayenne Turbo S.
It's possible to question whether the 2008 Porsche Cayenne really represents a second-generation leap or just a technology transfusion, but it's clear that all three models are significantly better than before, at a modest increase in price. And when you equip the Cayenne with the all-new Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, you really can have it all, both stellar handling and good ride comfort.
Having it all is what this Porsche is all about. The Cayenne has made it possible to utter "Porsche" and "family" in sentences other than, "I have a family, so I can't own a Porsche."
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2008 Porsche Cayenne Overview
The Used 2008 Porsche Cayenne is offered in the following submodels: Cayenne SUV. Available styles include S 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A), Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A), Turbo 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl Turbo 6A), GTS 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6M), GTS Tiptronic 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A), and 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6M). Pre-owned Porsche Cayenne models are available with a 4.8 L-liter gas engine or a 3.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 500 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Porsche Cayenne comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2008 Porsche Cayenne comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.
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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Porsche Cayenne?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.