A 4.7-liter V-8 and five-speed automatic are standard on this behemoth, only managing 13/16 mpg when outfitted with four-wheel drive. An optional 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 fuel economy numbers are actually a bit better than those of some rivals, but they'll quickly deter some shoppers.
For those who don't mind about those figures and need a big ute for towing, the Sequoia drives with the best of them; either powertrain is quite smooth and responsive, though the clear favorite is the larger V-8. The stronger engine gives the Sequoia surprising acceleration numbers, as well as plenty of towing power for boat owners. Edmunds says the big engine and six-speed automatic can push the sport-ute to 60 mph “in 6.7 seconds.” Motor Trend raves about the on-road performance of the the Sequoia, boasting that it “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 finds that the transmission “is always on its game with gear selection, even when towing.”
As full-size SUVs fade from popularity for soccer moms, what matters to most buyers is the Sequoia's true truck abilities. It comes with standard rear-wheel drive; four-wheel drive and a towing-friendly adjustable suspension are optional. The 4WD models have a knob-operated electronic two-speed transfer case containing a Torsen limited-slip differential that transmits power to front and rear axles and can be locked with the push of a button. The 4WD 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.
Tow ratings range up to 9,100 pounds for rear-wheel-drive models and 8,800 pounds with four-wheel drive.
The handling characteristics of the 2010 Toyota Sequoia earns kudos from most reviewers. You'll never forget you're behind the wheel of a three-ton truck, though—you won't enjoy the Sequoia in any way on a tight, curvy road, and there's plenty of excess body motion and nosedive during braking. Car and Driver reports, “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.” 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.” Motor Trend says the Sequoia is “poised,” but has “light and numb steering.” On a positive note, the turning radius is a sedanlike 39 feet, which helps it maneuver quite well at low speed.
All trim levels of the Sequoia feature large disc brakes and a brake-assist system that help slow the car’s 6,000-plus pounds when those red lights are fast approaching—although Automobile Magazine thinks the pedal feels like a “Nerf ball.”