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For a Japanese company, Toyota sure has a lot of chutzpah. Fearlessly wading neck deep through a river into which no other import brand dared even dip a toe, they introduced the Indiana-built Tundra pickup last year, assaulting Detroit’s full-size pickup monopoly. Emboldened by the sales success of that truck, this year Toyota turns to Detroit’s other beloved profit bloc, full-size SUVs, with the Tundra-based Sequoia.
To put the V-8-powered Sequoia’s in perspective, its 118.1-inch wheelbase and 203.9-inch overall length put it squarely between Chevy’s 116-inch wheelbase and 198.9-inch long Tahoe and Ford’s 119.1-inch wheelbase and 204.6-inch long Expedition. Toyota says a Sequoia SR5 4x4 will weigh in at 5270 pounds, which puts it smack between a similar Tahoe’s claimed 5050 and a 5.4-liter powered 4x4 Expedition at 5447. That’s a neat splitting of differences where the differences aren’t perceived as all that great. Expect the price to fall right amid those two as well.
Gall, cojones, arrogance, nerve, temerity, balls... whatever you want to call it, Toyota’s got a lot of it.
The Sequoia emerges from a sport-ute tradition well proved by Detroit — a tradition which at one time didn’t amount to much more than taking a corporation’s pickup and adding what amounts to a really bitchin’ shell. Back when Chevy sold only a few thousand Suburbans every year to road construction companies and university geology departments, they could get away with that. Today however, the customer expectations have risen as the market has grown and the number of competitors has increased exponentially. So now instead of just plopping the SUV body on the pickup’s chassis, there’s actually some engineering involved.
Like Ford’s Expedition and GM’s latest Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, the Sequoia is essentially identical to its pickup cousin from the B-pillar forward (including the double wishbone and coil spring front suspension) and is its own creation from that pillar back. With a wheelbase that’s just more than 10 inches shorter than the Tundra’s, the Sequoia’s frame rails are fully boxed and support a solid axle on five-link coil spring rear suspension rather than the pickup’s leaf springs (again similar to the Expedition and Tahoe).