2008 Toyota Sequoia 4X4Posted on September 7th, 2008
Full-sized sport-utility vehicle is designed for active families
By Nina Russin
Last year, Toyota rolled out a new version of its full-sized Sequoia sport-utility vehicle. Designed with active families in mind, the seven-passenger Sequoia features available four-wheel drive, including a two-speed transfer case and locking differential, plus towing up to ten thousand pounds.
The second-generation Sequoia comes with a choice of two V-8 engines: a carry-over 4.7-liter block, or a new 5.7-liter powerplant rated at 381 horsepower. Like the outgoing model, the new Sequoia shares chassis components with the full-sized Tundra pickup. But it is a much more refined package, with ride and handling that is better suited for its intended audience.
Fifty years of off-road engineering
Toyota’s sport-utility heritage dates back to the 1951 BJ: a four-wheel drive vehicle capable of climbing to the sixth station of Mt. Fuji, and used by Japan’s National Police Agency. In 1954, Toyota renamed the BJ the Land Cruiser: it has been Toyota’s halo off-road vehicle ever since.
Over time, the Land Cruiser evolved into a premium product aimed at upscale buyers. This opened up a niche for a more affordable, full-sized sport utility vehicle. The first Sequoia that rolled out in 2001 shared the Land Cruiser’s off-road capability, but was priced within reach of younger buyers with growing families.
Before starting work on the new Sequoia, chief engineer, Motoharu Araya came to the states and lived with an American family that owned a full-sized sport-utility vehicle. His objective was to make the new model comfortable enough for families to travel a thousand miles per day in, while maintaining exceptional towing and off-road capability.
The new 5.7-liter engine meets ultra-low emissions vehicle standards. Combined with a six-speed automatic transmission, its fuel economy is comparable to the Sequoia’s standard 4.7-liter V8.
Base price is on the second-generation Sequoia is $34,150: within our luxury category, but significantly less than the $64,000 Land Cruiser. There are five grades, ranging from the volume-leading SR5 with the 4.7-liter V8, to the upscale Platinum model with the new 5.7-liter engine. Base price on the Platinum 5.7 grade (tested) is $55,700.
Car-like ride and handling
Despite its large footprint and substantial curb weight, the Sequoia handles very much like a passenger car. Engineers opted for a fully independent front and rear suspension with coil rather than leaf springs to produce a compliant ride throughout the passenger cabin. Its turning radius is about nineteen feet: not bad for a truck with a 122-inch wheelbase.
The new engine has plenty of power to accelerate into high-speed traffic. In an effort to conserve fuel, I made an effort to keep the engine revs at or below 2000 rpm. I found it easy to accelerate at or above the speed of traffic while keeping my fuel economy near the top end of the Sequoia’s range. The six-speed automatic transmission can maintain speeds in excessive of seventy miles-per-hour with very little strain on the engine.
Twenty-inch wheels come standard on the Platinum model, giving the Sequoia bigger contact patches with the ground, and a more stable stance for cornering. All models have between nine and ten inches of ground clearance: plenty to clear obstacles on off-road trails. Running boards that come standard on the Platinum grade make it easier to enter and exit the vehicle, but can catch the occasional rock on an uneven trail.
Speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering provides plenty of assist for maneuvering into a tight parking spot, while maintaining a good on-center feel at speed. In general, the new Sequoia has much crisper handling than the model it replaces, without sacrificing ride comfort.
Ventilated front and rear discs with standard four-channel antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear fashion. Bringing six thousand pounds of sheet metal to a stop is not an easy task, but the brakes on the Sequoia handle the job with aplomb.
Thick pillars and smoked glass throughout the rear of the car create some rather large blind spots on the driver’s side and in back. A standard backup camera on the Platinum grade makes it much easier to park, and avoid obstacles when driving in reverse.
Average fuel economy for the four-wheel drive model is fifteen miles-per-gallon. Buyers who don’t need the off-road capability can save some money at the pump by opting for the two-wheel drive model. All models run on 87-octane fuel.
Heated captain’s chairs in the first and second row are extremely comfortable, with plenty of lower lumbar support and enough adjustments to suit drivers and passengers of various sizes. Two-position driver’s seat memory is standard on the Platinum grade.
A screen on the center stack displays maps for the standard navigation system and the camera view to the rear when the car is in reverse. Standard tri-zone temperature controls allow all of the passengers to find their optimum temperature.
A conversation mirror in the overhead console allows front-row passengers to keep an eye on kids in the second row. An optional rear-seat entertainment system includes a DVD player and 115-volt inverter ($1670).
The driver can choose from three suspension settings and adjust ride height using buttons to the left of the center stack. A gate shifter on the floor console allows the driver to select gears manually.
A power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel has redundant audio, Bluetooth and temperature controls. A stalk controls optional dynamic laser cruise control ($600). The driver chooses the following distance: an on-board computer applies throttle or brakes to maintain the set speed while maintaining a margin of safety behind the car in front.
All three rows of passengers get overhead reading lamps, map pockets and cupholders aplenty. First and second-row center console bins store small electronic devices and compact discs. The first-row bin is large enough to hold a backpack. A two-piece glovebox has extra space for magazines and maps.
A lever on the second-row seat cushions flips the seatbacks down and moves the seats forward about a foot, making for better-than-average third row access. Third row seats have less leg and headroom than first and second rows, but they are roomy enough for kids and smaller adults.
Power folding third-row seats
A power liftgate and power folding third-row seats, both standard on the Platinum grade, make it easy to load large cargo in back. With the third-row seats folded flat, the Sequoia easily meets our bicycle-friendly standards.
The Platinum grade also comes standard with roof rails and crossbars. A step pad on the rear bumper makes it easier to load items up top.
All grades come with standard front, side and side curtain airbags and vehicle stability control.
Toyota produces the Sequoia at its Princeton, Indiana assembly plant.
Likes: A luxuriously equipped full-sized sport-utility vehicle with off-road and towing capability. A powerful new V8 engine and fully-independent suspension give the Sequoia the ride and handling of a passenger car.
Dislike: Carpeting and cargo mats are a $235 option on the upscale Platinum grade.
Model: Sequoia Platinum 4X4
Base Price: $55,600
As tested: $58,930
Horsepower: 381 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 401 lbs.-ft @ 3600 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Comments: Base price does not include a $685 delivery charge.
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