New & Used Toyota Sequoia: In Depth
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A full-size SUV that shares its truck chassis with the Tundra pickup, the Toyota Sequoia can carry up to eight passengers and tow thousands of pounds. It's a strong alternative to really big utes like the Toyota Land Cruiser, but it's not quite up to the gold standard set by the new Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and the GMC Yukon SUVs.See our full review of the 2015 Toyota Sequoia for more information, specs, and pricing.
The Sequoia first reached showrooms in the 2001 model year, just shortly after the full-size Toyota Tundra pickup, with which it shared some running gear. From day one, the Sequoia has offered V-8 engines with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. At launch, the base engine was a 240-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 and four-speed automatic transmission, but 2005-2007 models got a stronger, 282-hp (or 273-hp) version, paired with a five-speed automatic, that was also a bit smoother and not any worse on gas.
Those first-generation Sequoia models aren't exactly the pinnacle of refinement—they have more road, engine, and wind noise than some might expect in a full-size truck—and they weren't as spacious inside as rival Ford and Chevy models, but they proved themselves to be sturdy, reliable trucks. SR5 and Limited models added more luxury features, and a series of improvements phased in with the stronger engine in 2005 made the Sequoia much more appealing overall. Toyota was also a safety trendsetter in offering electronic stability control standard on all these trucks.
The current Sequoia was new in the 2008 model year. Coinciding with a new version of the Tundra pickup truck on which it's based, the Sequoia launched with an available 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic that made it a viable, even superior, choice for those who towed, compared to the contemporary light-duty trucks from Detroit. Base models got a 276-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 and five-speed automatic. Fuel economy wasn't that much different between the two engines though—it ranges from an EPA 13/16 mpg to 13/18.
Little has changed on the Sequoia since 2008. While the Tundra on which it's based has seen exterior and interior improvements, the SUV has been left out, and both have seen powertrain options shrink instead of grow or mature. The Sequoia has sizable cargo room thanks to its independent suspension design in back, but its massive size means it's not fun to drive, and poor visibility makes it even worse when it comes time to park. It's still a solid choice for those who want to tow, but it's not an efficient vehicle when there's no load to carry.
All Sequoias offer three rows of seating, with the middle row a choice of a bench or two captain's chairs. The Sequoia's highway ride in particular has been much improved and the cabin is quieter, with interior appointments now close to rivaling those of the more expensive Land Cruiser. Base, Limited, and Platinum models are offered, with the Platinum getting a lot of extras including heated and ventilated seats, heated mirrors, DVD entertainment, a nav system with XM NavTraffic, JBL sound, and real wood trim.
Toyota has added a few more standard features at several points in recent years but changed little else. On 2010 models, Toyota has added Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB port, and an auxiliary port to the standard-equipment list; while the 2012 Sequoia got a standard trailer sway control system as well as a blind-spot monitor. Toyota has also been pushing its Entune infotainment systems through most of the lineup, and a new Blu-Ray rear entertainment system was added to top trims. Up through 2015, there's been no significant news for this model line; although in 2013 Toyota dropped the smaller V-8, leaving only the 5.7-liter engine.