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.MORE: Read our full review of the 2014 Toyota Sequoia
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 the 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.
The Sequoia remains largely the same today. It has an almost cartoonish macho appearance and is built on a stronger, fully-boxed frame and a new rear independent suspension that allow an impressive load capacity along with better ride and handling attributes. Even though the truck has an improved turning radius, visibility is not as good as the earlier model--making parking a chore--and its huge size and very high seating position prove to be handicaps rather than assets.
Inside, there are 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. Then in 2013 the big news was that Toyota dropped the smaller V-8, leaving only the 5.7-liter engine. Toyota's Entune infotainment system was offered through most of the lineup, and a new Blu-Ray rear entertainment system was added to top trims.