Instead of a New Toyota 4Runner, Get a Used Porsche Cayenne
In terms of reliability and off-road capability, few SUVs have the Toyota 4Runner’s reputation. But if you really want the best, you’ll need to spring for the TRD Pro model, which is almost $50k. Plus, while the 4Runner may be reliable, even the latest model can be a bit too old-school for some. However, the used market has a solution. For the price of a new 4Runner TRD Pro, you can get a luxury SUV that’s also capable of going off-pavement: the Porsche Cayenne.
The recommended used Porsche Cayenne model years
Although the Porsche Cayenne originally debuted in 2002, the average age of a used car in the US is 12 years old. Therefore, we’ll only be looking at Cayennes from the 2008 model year and onward. Luckily, this avoids some of the early problematic years, particularly the 2004 model.
2008-2010 marks the end of the 1st-gen Porsche Cayenne, aka the ‘955,’ which PCarWise recommends from a value and reliability perspective. Meanwhile, the 2nd-gen ‘958’ Cayenne was produced from 2011-2018. Of these, the 2011-2012 models are best avoided, due to the V8 engine and transfer case issues. Fortunately, CarComplaints reports these issues had essentially disappeared by the 2014 model.
Used Porsche Cayenne vs. new Toyota 4Runner: specs and features
In terms of features, buying a used Porsche Cayenne means you won’t get every infotainment or safety feature that a new Toyota 4Runner has. This includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and blind-spot monitoring.
However, every 2nd-gen Cayenne did come with stop-start, Bluetooth, and power-adjustable leather seats, PistonHeads reports. Plus, though cruise control was standard, adaptive cruise control was available as an option, as was navigation. All-wheel drive and tire-pressure monitoring were also standard, Motor Trend reports.
Also, the Porsche Cayenne has a wider and more powerful engine selection than the Toyota 4Runner. The 4Runner comes exclusively with a 270-hp 4.0-liter V6 and a 5-speed transmission.
In contrast, the 1st-gen Cayenne was available with a selection of V6s and V8s, including several twin-turbocharged V8s. By 2010, these included a 290-hp 3.6-liter V6, a 385-hp and 405-hp 4.8-liter V8, and a 500-hp and 550-hp twin-turbocharged V8, PCA reports. And by the 2nd-gen, the 6-speed automatic had become an 8-speed.
Plus, the Cayenne offered several Porsche-specific performance upgrades. These included adjustable suspension and stability control, Car and Driver reports. But even without them, the Porsche Cayenne is noticeably sharper in terms of handling than the Toyota 4Runner. The TRD Pro model is better than the Wrangler on paved roads, Road & Track reports, but it’s not exactly a canyon-carver.
However, the Cayenne doesn’t give up much to the 4Runner when it comes to off-roading, The Drive reports. True, the Porsche SUV’s brakes mean off-road tire selection is somewhat limited, GuideAutoWeb reports. But Rennlist forum users report it’s perfectly possible to fit BFGoodrich T/A KO tires on the Cayenne. And its AWD system is up for even heavy off-roading, DriveTribe reports, if not exactly rock-crawling.
The Transsyberia model
Although the 2nd-gen Porsche Cayenne was AWD-only, the 1st-gen model had 4WD with a transfer case. The Turbo models also featured adjustable air suspension and a locking center differential, R&T reports. But perhaps the truest Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro analog that Porsche offered was the Cayenne Transsyberia.
To prove its SUV’s off-road mettle, Porsche entered it in the TransSyberian Rally, a 4400-mile race across Siberia, Russia, and Mongolia, R&T reports. And it won the 2008-2010 events outright, The Drive reports. To commemorate the victories, Porsche produced a limited number of road-going Cayenne Transsyberia models in 2010.
These were almost exact copies of the race version, Autotrader reports; basically, the only things missing were the roll cage and racing harnesses. Under the hood, the Cayenne Transsyberia has the 405-hp 4.5-liter V8 from the GTS model. The standard version came with front and rear stainless-steel skid plates and active air suspension. But there was also an optional off-road package that added a locking rear differential, a light bar, rock rails, and additional protection for the engine, fuel tank, and rear axle.
Pricing and maintenance costs
It’s important to note that, as a luxury SUV, the Porsche Cayenne’s average maintenance costs are higher than the Toyota 4Runner’s. Roughly 2 times higher, according to Edmunds’ True Cost Estimate tool.
However, at least some of these costs come from the more-problematic V8 models, especially the 1st-gen ones. If you avoid the problematic years listed earlier, the Cayenne can be a reliable SUV. And it’s worth noting that CarComplaints has significantly more records of 4Runner issues than Cayenne ones.
Plus, a used Porsche Cayenne is often noticeably cheaper than a new Toyota 4Runner, especially the TRD Pro model. It’s possible to find 2008-2010 models with under 100,000 miles for less than $20,000 on Autotrader. And even on Bring a Trailer, most Cayennes fall in the $30,000-$40,000 range.
Finding a Transsyberia model, though, is going to be tricky. Porsche only made 600 Cayenne Transsyberia models, and they rarely crop up for sale. However, they’re not necessarily significantly more expensive. One sold in February 2020 on BaT for $29,000.
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