COVID-19 has lead to all sorts of things, one of the most notable non-human impacts being the car market. New cars are thin on the ground due to decisions made by automakers in mid-2020 that impacted microchip production. As a result of low inventory, the used car market is going insane, with dealers offering more than you’d think for your trade on something else. I took advantage of the insanity and sold my Ram 1500 Sport for a 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel.
Selling the Truck
A few months ago, I had made my monthly payment on my 2016 Ram 1500 Sport, one more along the route of sixty little steps toward actual ownership of the truck. I had been hearing tales from friends about their trade-in and sale experiences and figured the least I could do was run the data and get my truck’s value. I hadn’t been driving the Ram much, given the string of test cars that had been flowing through for reviews, and it was considered low-mileage with just 53,000 miles on the odometer.
After plugging the truck’s information into calculators at KBB, Carvana, Vroom, and Carmax, I was stunned. The truck, which I’d purchased two years and 10,000 miles ago, was worth more than I’d paid for it in 2019. Vroom in particular was making a high offer, teasing me with over $35,000 and a promise to pick it up the next day.
I didn’t really need to sell the Ram. I liked it quite a bit and it was in pristine condition. But the opportunity to say I made a profit on a gasoline-powered pickup truck was too enticing. I listed it for sale on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for even more money than Vroom’s offer, deciding that if someone would bring me my asking price (which I found kinda ridiculous) I’d let it go.
Three weeks passed and I had minimal interest. I lowered the price by $500, and suddenly my phone was ringing off the hook. A couple who lived nearby was particularly interested, and showed up in a one-of-three Jeep Liberty painted like the American flag – at the Jeep plant – to test-drive the Ram. They liked it and made me a full-price offer.
One week later, after dealing with my loan payoff and two banks transferring money around between us, my Ram 1500 Sport was now Kurt’s Ram 1500 Sport. I was left with no personal vehicle of my own and a $5,000 profit compared to my purchase price.
Shopping for Something New
I seem to gravitate toward European vehicles when given the choice. Seating position is a big deal to me as a tall human, and the Germans in particular always do it right. So when considering the Ram’s replacement, I made sure to include two big German SUVs on my list – the X166 Mercedes-Benz GL and the 958 Porsche Cayenne. I did also consider the traditional options – a Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition, or Toyota Sequoia sort of purchase. I figured, though, if I was going to replace my much-loved truck, I should replace it with something I enjoyed just as much, if not more.
Two test-drives of the Mercedes-Benz GL left me cold. They are great to look at and sized like a German Tahoe, but the steering feel of the X166 generation, produced from 2013 to 2019, is nonexistent. It may be the lightest steering I’ve felt in a vehicle, ever, and it truly ruined the car for me.
I moved on to the Porsche Cayenne and its sibling, the Volkswagen Touareg. My post in a Facebook group for amateur racers connected me with a local American Endurance Racing competitor, who has owned his 2014 Porsche Cayenne for years and tows an enclosed trailer with it. He generously offered to let me test drive his, both unloaded and with my trailer attached, to make sure it was up to the task.
Alex’s Cayenne Diesel made a great impression and handled my trailer with ease. I decided to focus my search on the Cayenne Diesel, as it’s considered one of the more reliable drivetrains in the Cayenne lineup. Part of the “Dieselgate” scandal, Porsche re-tuned these diesel-powered SUVs and issued each with a warranty that runs for 10 years or 120,000 miles from the date of first sale. It covers not only the diesel emissions equipment, but the entire long block. If you have an oil leak, Porsche will fix it for free. If the turbo goes out, Porsche will fix it for free. It’s a really compelling warranty, if you can find a Cayenne with low enough miles to still qualify.
I also drove a Volkswagen Touareg TDI. The Touraeg is substantially cheaper than a same-era Cayenne Diesel, but ultimately feels like a vastly different vehicle despite sharing a platform. Porsche set up the Cayenne to be far stiffer, with better suspension tuning and bigger brakes. I preferred the Porsche interior as well, with its superior seating and higher-quality materials. So, price be damned, I went Cayenne Diesel shopping.
Me being me, I also insisted on a color. Most Cayennes seem to have been painted black, gray, or white, and I wanted something more interesting. Porsche’s offerings on the diesels were not fabulous but did include a navy blue, a forest green, and a bright red (a $3,000 upcharge when new and appropriately rare).
Finding my 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
After setting up a nationwide search on AutoTrader and CarGurus, with parameters of “2013 to 2016” model year, “Diesel” fuel type and “Blue, Green, Red” paint colors, I looked at several options that were solid, but out of warranty. One Saturday morning, an AutoTrader alert came to my inbox for a dark blue over tan 2013 Cayenne Diesel with one past owner and about 67,000 miles. It was conveniently located a bit north of Philadelphia, where Tyler happens to reside, and I texted him to see if he could check it out.
Tyler and his friends stopped by the dealership and we had a FaceTime video call so I could have a virtual walk-around of the car. They drove it and pronounced it solid, with no funky smells inside or significant damage that couldn’t be seen from the dealership’s photos. I called the dealership that afternoon and left a deposit, with plans to pick the Cayenne up a few days later.
My boyfriend and I caught an Amtrak train up to Philly’s 30th Street station, and then took a 40-minute Lyft ride to the dealership. The Cayenne was as-presented, so I handed over a cashier’s check and we pointed the car south toward Washington, D.C.
Every Cayenne is rated to pull 7,700 pounds with about 770 pounds of tongue weight. This Cayenne Diesel will be a solid tow vehicle for my 20′ enclosed trailer, with a loaded weight of about 6,700 pounds and a measured tongue weight around 650 pounds. I plan on purchasing a new weight distributing hitch that adds sway control, as the setup I use now does not have the latter. But even with just a ball mount, the Cayenne pulls my trailer with confidence.
Final First Impressions
After spending a few weeks living with this Cayenne Diesel, my impressions are mostly positive. I’ve road-tripped it up to see my parents and towed my trailer about fifty miles so far, and it does a great job with both tasks. The diesel drivetrain is low on power (240 horsepower) but high on torque, with 406 lb-ft available almost immediately. The Cayenne feels quicker than it is, especially in Sport mode, with the engine and Aisin eight-speed automatic working to keep it in the torque band and hustle you down the road.
The seats are very comfortable. We like the dual-zone front climate control that offers not only differing temperatures for driver and passenger, but differing fan speeds as well. This is the first vehicle I’ve owned where reading the manual seems to be a requirement instead of an option. Every little thing can be adjusted, but you’ll be poking through center console buttons, touchscreen menus, or menus in the gauge cluster to find out how to adjust and remember each setting. The Bose audio system can sound pretty good or really muddy depending on your sound settings, which are scattered through a few menus and set differently for each input.
I’ve added about 600 miles to the Cayenne’s odometer so far and it’s averaging about 27 miles per gallon, including the brief towing stint so far. I’m eager to add more miles and see how it treats me in the months to come.