2008 Toyota Sequoia Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2008

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia is a capable example of the full-size SUV--in a day where the full-size SUV makes less and less sense.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors researched a wide range of road tests of the 2008 Toyota Sequoia to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com’s resident experts also drove the 2008 Toyota Sequoia to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia is based on Toyota’s big, new full-size Tundra pickup. And true to form, the Sequoia’s a gigantic vehicle. It’s 17 feet long and 500 pounds heavier than before--putting it squarely in the leagues of the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Suburban, and Nissan Armada.

There are two engines available with the 2008 Toyota Sequoia. A standard 4.7-liter V-8 and five-speed automatic gets 14/17 mpg when outfitted with rear-wheel drive. It’s rated at 13/16 mpg with four-wheel drive. The larger 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8, with its more efficient six-speed automatic, gets 14/19 mpg with two-wheel drive and 13/18 mpg with four-wheel-drive. The numbers are a little better than those of the Expedition, Suburban, and Armada by a mile or so, but still dismal in a day of expensive gas.

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia’s cabin room is tremendous. The front and second-row seats are shaped for big humans, and even the third-row seat has reasonably adult-sized space--not to mention a power-folding option. Even when the third-row seat is raised, there’s good storage room behind it, too. For 2008, Toyota’s Sequoia borrows some of the strong interior lines and gadgety look of the new Tundra, and it’s not an eye-pleasing cabin as a result. The finishes are less rich-looking than before, too, though plenty of features--from navigation systems to satellite radio--are offered.

Review continues below

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia sports available four-wheel drive and an adjustable suspension. The 4WD models have a two-speed transfer case--shifted electronically through an easy-to-reach rotary knob--containing a lockable Torsen limited-slip differential that transmits power to front and rear axles and can be locked with the push of a button. The new, fully independent suspension has an available Active Variable (rear air) Suspension (AVS) package that has settings for comfort, normal, and sport modes. Despite its larger tires and wheels (18-inch alloys standard, 20-inchers optional), the new Sequoia's turning radius is a tight 39 feet, and handling is surprisingly capable for a vehicle of its size. Steering is light but reasonably precise, and braking is solid and powerful even when towing a heavy load.

It’s luxurious inside with all the big SUV bells and whistles, from copious cup holders and storage to available middle-row captain's chairs, premium audio, DVD rear entertainment, and a reclining/power folding 60/40 split third-row bench.

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia also has comprehensive safety equipment, and gets a five-star rating for driver-side front-impact protection, along with four stars for the front passenger, from the NHTSA.

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2008 Toyota Sequoia

Styling

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia is all about big—from its big grille to its big, busy dash.

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia has been restyled, and stakes its claim as one of the largest vehicles around.

Size matters in the reviews read by TheCarConnection.com; many opened with comments on the Sequoia’s tremendous size. ForbesAutos says, “everything is big on this truck, from the headlamps and side mirrors to the exterior grab handles and interior switches.” The Tundra pickup donates its platform for the big SUV from Toyota; 2008’s version shares many of the Tundra’s styling cues, and ForbesAuto calls those details “brawny” and “imposing.” They add, “With its enormous chrome-clad prow, the Sequoia mimics the macho, don’t-mess-with-Texas look of the Tundra pickup.”

Interior styling for the 2008 Toyota Sequoia carries over from the Tundra, and it’s a source of controversy. Cars.com calls it “with its recessed gauges and sweeping silver-colored trim stretching from the instrument cluster down to the center console gear selector.” ForbesAutos feels that “you have to stretch to reach the stereo controls.” While Edmunds.com finds a “triumph of ergonomics, storage bins, and family-friendly conveniences” in the Toyota, 2008’s Sequoia has an “overwrought dash with questionable ergonomics,” according to Motor Trend.

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2008 Toyota Sequoia

Performance

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia goes full throttle with its optional V-8 and good handling.

Despite its monster size, the 2008 Toyota Sequoia accelerates and handles with aplomb. Reviews from around the Web say the Sequoia has plenty of V-8 power and good handling, though it’s a thirsty driver.

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia offers two engines: a standard 4.7-liter V-8 brings the price tag down, but the larger and more powerful 5.7-liter version actually attains better fuel economy and is necessary for getting the most performance out of the big SUV.

Edmunds confirms the availability of a smaller engine in the Toyota; 2008’s base engine is a “4.7-liter V8, which is rated at 276 horsepower and 314 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with this engine.”

The optional engine in the 2008 Toyota Sequoia is a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that pumps out 381 hp and provides 401 pound-feet of torque. This very capable engine gives the Sequoia surprising acceleration numbers, as well as plenty of towing power for boat owners. Motor Trend raves about the on-road performance of the Toyota; 2008’s Sequoia “can push passengers into their seatbacks with what seems like enough energy to recline to the floor.” Car and Driver also praises the Sequoia’s “monster motor” and its “surprisingly tight 39-foot turning circle.” Edmunds says the big engine and six-speed automatic can push the sport-ute to 60 mph “in 6.7 seconds.” Speaking to the transmission, Edmunds finds that it “is always on its game with gear selection, even when towing.”

As for fuel economy, ForbesAutos points out that the smaller V-8 gets “13 miles per gallon city/16 mpg highway” in the Toyota; 2008’s optional 5.7-liter V-8 gets “13 mpg city/18 mpg highway.”

The handling characteristics of the 2008 Toyota Sequoia earned kudos from most reviewers. ConsumerGuide takes care to point out that the “Sequoia is composed in most every routine maneuver, with the bonus of a usefully tight turning radius and outstanding brake control.” Car and Driver writes, “Although the Sequoia won’t send you in search of twisty roads, you won’t necessarily have to avoid them.” However, they also observe that “the ride isn’t quite as smooth as we expected…[and] feels downright jiggly on rough roads.” Motor Trend says the Sequoia is “poised,” but has “light and numb steering.”

All trim levels of the Sequoia feature large disc brakes and a brake-assist system that help rein in the car’s 6,000-plus pounds when those red lights are fast approaching—although Automobile thinks the pedal feels like a “Nerf ball.” Four-wheel drive is an option with either powertrain in the Toyota Sequoia; 2008’s system allows drivers to “lock the center differential in both 4 Hi and 4 Lo, thereby providing greater flexibility when driving in snowy conditions,” Edmunds notes.

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2008 Toyota Sequoia

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia has exceptional interior room, and quality is typical Toyota.

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia features vast interior room and high-quality materials.

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia has some upscale interior pieces that reviewers across the Web noted. Road & Track gushes about the “yards upon yards of rich feeling (and smelling) high-quality leather” in the Toyota; 2008’s interior is “a triumph of ergonomics, storage bins and family-friendly conveniences,” Edmunds reports. ForbesAutos says, “the driving position is upright, visibility is excellent, the seats are a bit soft but still supportive.” That being said, Edmunds does find fault with “inconsistent gaps and color mismatches among a couple parts and panels.”

Comfort in the new 2008 Toyota Sequoia is also nothing to worry about. The car’s cavernous dimensions making finding storage space a breeze. Motor Trend “found the Toyota very roomy and comfortable,” and Autoblog notes that “there’s storage all over the place for the second- and third-row passengers.” Cars.com says, “The Sequoia can seat up to eight people in its three rows of seats,” and “The second row slides out of the way when you lift a lever, which makes it easy to get to the third-row seats.” ForbesAutos says that the second row “slides fore and aft to allow maximum legroom in the second row when the third row is unoccupied.” Automobile jokes that it’s “an alternative to a motorhome, with space for eight family members and every convenience but beds.”

Size is the killer application of this Toyota; 2008’s Sequoia has “adult-adequate” third-row seats, ConsumerGuide says, and “enormous door openings aid entry and exit.” Cars.com also likes the third row: “The flat-folding third row's backrest reclines, and the seat can have power operation.” ForbesAutos says it’s "notably more spacious and easier to access than GM’s similarly sized Chevrolet Tahoe or GMC Yukon, as well as Ford’s Expedition.”

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2008 Toyota Sequoia

Safety

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia scores well in front-impact crash tests.

With all the sheetmetal and automotive heft surrounding you in the 2008 Toyota Sequoia, you would expect to be well protected in an accident. Those expectations are met in this Toyota; 2008’s Sequoia gets good crash test ratings and an excellent assortment of safety features.

The engineers and experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) find strength in the latest SUV from Toyota; 2008’s Sequoia scored a perfect five stars for protecting the driver in front impacts, and passenger ratings come in at a respectable four stars. One worry in such a large car is the risk of rollover, but the NHTSA gives the Sequoia four stars here as well--quite an accomplishment for a car so tall.

Car and Driver says that when it comes to safety, “the Sequoia delivers, starting with standard electronic stability control and roll-sensing side curtain airbags for all three rows.” Cars.com also points to the rest of the standard equipment on the Toyota; 2008’s Sequoia SUV has standard “antilock brakes with brake assist...and an electronic stability system with traction control.”

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2008 Toyota Sequoia

Features

The 2008 Toyota Sequoia can be outfitted as richly as you like, but the base version is well-trimmed.

Any car model that comes in three trim levels will offer a wide variety of optional features, but what sets the 2008 Toyota Sequoia apart is the number of standard features that appear on every car that comes off the production line. All three versions sport standard three-zone climate control, luxurious leather seats, and six-disc CD changer. Cars.com adds that standard features include “tri-zone automatic air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry, a CD stereo, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and cruise control." Options on this version include “a navigation system with…a backup camera, a DVD entertainment system…climate-controlled front seats, heated second-row seats, a power liftgate and a sunroof.”

The extensive additional features list begins to show on both the Limited and Platinum versions of the 2008 Toyota Sequoia. In these trim levels, buyers will find that the Limited includes additional leather and a 14-speaker JBL sound system that is capable of filling the entire cabin with high-quality audio. At the very top of the range lies the Toyota 2008 Sequoia Platinum, which ForbesAutos says “adds all-out luxury amenities, such as 20-inch alloy wheels” and “a navigation system with back-up camera.”

Rounding out the list of options and features is a controllable air suspension and a moonroof with full tilt and slide functionality. The only major drawback, TheCarConnection.com observes, is that instead of allowing for complete customization, the Toyota 2008 Sequoia is offered in three trim levels, within which options are limited.

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Styling 7.0
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