Originally, I had intended to title this update "Muscle Memory," as I had planned on talking about how easily I remembered where every button and switch was in the Cayenne's cockpit after a long absence. Noteworthy, I judged, because there are so damn many of them, but they're well laid-out and thoughtfully organized. Then a more important issue presented itself.
At last update, I noted that my gripes thus far had been fairly mundane, a reflection, I said, on how good the Cayenne is. It's still good, but I've found something a bit more substantial to complain about: maintenance. Now, before we get started, let's recognize that people who can afford $90,000 SUVs probably don't balk much when it comes time to pay the piper behind the service desk, but for the regular Joe, the numbers are a bit more eye-popping.
It all started with a bubble. Specifically, one in the sidewall of the front right tire. With the Cayenne's return date rapidly approaching, we'd been debating whether to replace the rubber and that bubble, along with greater than expected wear on the rears, sealed the deal. So, thinking we were savvy, we jumped on Tire Rack and ordered up a new set. Figuring we wouldn't get much use out of them, we opted for the $150-per-tire cheaper Bridgestone Duelers instead of the stock Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s. Bad idea.
We turned up at the local Porsche dealer, Rusnak, with the tires in the back and it went downhill from there. The dealer refused to mount the tires because they weren't "Porsche approved," indicated by the lack of an "N-Spec" label on the sidewall. When we insisted, we got a call from Porsche PR informing us that the company has a policy against dealers installing non-approved tires for liability reasons. Porsche PR explained that the company, like several other automakers, has a very stringent tire development process. Those aren't just any Michelins, they're Michelins that both the tiremaker and automaker have spent a great deal of time and money optimizing for maximum performance and fuel economy with the Cayenne S Hybrid.
The Bridgestones, then, are on their way back to Tire Rack and we've got a brand-new set of Michelins at $450 each, plus $210 in labor. We asked they check the alignment as well, as we noticed some uneven wear on the right rear. That was another $350 in labor. The real kicker, though, was the suggested 20,000-mile service. Figuring that the typical owner will go with the dealer's recommendation, we said OK. Some injector cleaner, an oil change with seven quarts of Mobil 1, a new oil filter, a new cabin air filter and a topped-up windshield washer tank, all for a reasonable $157.10. In parts. The labor for that innocent-sounding bit of housekeeping? $668. Ouch. Per our records, the 10,000-mile service consisted of an oil change only and ran us $362.78 total. Given that fuel injector cleaner isn't specified by Porsche and the cabin air filter isn't due to be replaced until 40,000 miles, we're not going to report those in the official maintenance log at the bottom.
For those keeping score, that's a total bill of $3370.90 after tax for a new set of tires, an alignment and a general service (including the unnecessary service). That's when reality sets in and separates the guy who can afford to buy a Porsche from a guy who can afford to own a Porsche. For perspective, with that $3400 I could have my pick of decent-condition 914s, 924s, 944s and even 928s listed on Craigslist right now. The Cayenne is still a fantastic vehicle completely worthy of our Sport/Utility of the Year award, but it's clearly not for everyone.
Let this be a lesson to you all: pay close attention to the estimate your dealership service advisor gives you and don't be afraid to veto any unnecessary service. Check your owner's manual (and companion maintenance manual if your car has one, like ours does) to find out exactly what service the factory calls for. Dealers are notorious for throwing in extra services you don't need. Rusnak Porsche, of Pasadena, California, managed to turn an oil change into an $825.10 charge.
|Our Car |
|Service life ||12 months/25,929 miles |
|Average fuel economy ||20.0 mpg |
|CO2 emissions ||0.97 lb/mi |
|Energy consumption ||169 kW-hr/100mi |
|Unresolved problems ||None |
|Maintenance cost ||$1096.21 (2 x oil change, inspection; 1 x cabin air filter) |
|Normal-wear cost ||$2532.05 (4 Michelin tires, installation, four-wheel alignment) |