2010 Toyota Sequoia Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 4, 2010

The 2010 Toyota Sequoia is hardly in sync with the times, but it does offer competitive towing and hauling abilities—along with plenty of interior comforts—for those who need a real truck.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the 2010 Toyota Sequoia and included the editors' own driving impressions here along with an assessment of how this large SUV stacks up against top rivals. And to help you make the most informed decision, we've included excerpts from some of the Web's top review sources in an adjacent Full Review.

The 2010 Toyota Sequoia is a full-size sport-utility vehicle, based on the mammoth Toyota Tundra pickup. In direct competition with other big utes like the the Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, and Nissan Armada, the Sequoia is built for hauling a full load of people and addressing heavy trailer-towing needs.

With its huge, imposing chrome grille and tall hood and flanks, plus its flared fenders, chunky door handles, chromed mirrors, and super-sized cues all around, the 2010 Toyota Sequoia is almost cartoonish in appearance from the outside. Inside, matte-metallic plastic trim flows down from the gauge area and covers part of the center console, which some might find a bit odd. Overall, the dash is very functional, with a very wide, multicompartment center console and chunky design incorporating simple, large controls and displays.

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 these 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. 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. The turning radius is a sedanlike 39 feet, which helps it maneuver quite well at low speed.

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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. Tow ratings range up to 9,100 pounds for rear-wheel-drive models and 8,800 pounds with four-wheel drive.

Seating space is more than adequate in the 2010 Toyota Sequoia; it feels like it's been designed for large Americans, and the available room in the first and second rows is tremendous. The third-row seating has reasonable space for smaller adults who are willing to contort a bit for entry and exit. With the power-folding option, expanding the already generous rear cargo area is a breeze. Most of the interior design and controls carry over from the Tundra, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, as the Tundra has been criticized for being too plasticky. Upholstery isn't a standout either in a class where interior appointments often parallel those of luxury vehicles, but there are copious cup holders and many small bins.

The 2010 Toyota Sequoia gets a five-star rating for driver-side front-impact protection, along with four stars for the front passenger from NHTSA, and it comes with all the expected safety equipment, including electronic stability control, side, and side curtain airbags. The Sequoia’s height and sheer size, paired with tough outward visibility, make it cumbersome to maneuver, so you might be at a disadvantage versus a smaller, nimbler vehicle in avoiding an accident in the first place.

All the luxurious features and options you expect from a large SUV are available in the 2010 Sequoia, including available middle-row captain's chairs, premium audio, DVD rear entertainment, and a reclining/power folding 60/40 split third-row bench. For 2010, the standard-feature list has been bolstered to include Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB port, and aux-in port. There are few options on the Sequoia, but the lineup is split into base, Limited, and Platinum models, with the Platinum adding skid plates, a power hatch, heated mirrors, a rear-seat DVD system, a premium JBL sound system, a nav system with XM NavTraffic, perforated heated and ventilated captain's chairs, and real wood trim.

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2010 Toyota Sequoia

Styling

The 2010 Toyota Sequoia is big and burly to the max on the outside, but not everyone likes the look; on the inside, it might be a little overstyled.

With its huge, imposing chrome grille and tall hood and flanks, plus its flared fenders, chunky door handles, chromed mirrors, and super-sized cues all around, the 2010 Toyota Sequoia is almost cartoonish in appearance from the outside. Inside, a matte-metallic plastic trim flows down from the gauge area and covers part of the center console, which some might find a bit odd. Overall, the dash is very functional, with a very wide, multicompartment center console and chunky design incorporating simple, large controls and displays.

Few reviewers have much positive to say about the exterior of the Sequoia. Road & Track comments that the first impression of the Toyota Sequoia is likely to be its sheer size. Autoblog can't quite get past the Sequoia's tremendous size, even though they do admit there's a purpose for a vehicle of these dimensions. The Sequoia "definitely deserves whatever size-related superlatives you can dream up," contends the reviewer, later calling the shape as "kind of warthog-ish to our eye." Autoblog continues: "you can argue form following function if it helps take the sting out of parking this ugly duckling between an Expedition and a Denali."

Interior styling for the 2010 Toyota Sequoia carries over from the Tundra, and it’s a source of controversy. Motor Trend points to the “overwrought dash with questionable ergonomics,” while Cars.com matter-of-factly describes the "recessed gauges and sweeping silver-colored trim stretching from the instrument cluster down to the center console gear selector.”

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2010 Toyota Sequoia

Performance

Yes, the 2010 Toyota Sequoia guzzles gas, but it's a well-rounded performer with serious truck chops.

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.”

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2010 Toyota Sequoia

Comfort & Quality

Although materials of the 2010 Toyota Sequoia might not be at the head of the class, the vast interior could almost qualify as a studio apartment.

While the sheer size and weight of the 2010 Toyota Sequoia make it a tough fit for parking spaces, a bit out of place on curvy roads, and a downright gas guzzler, the plus-size dimensions help to give the Sequoia a very spacious interior and decent ride.

Seating space is more than adequate in the 2010 Toyota Sequoia; it feels like it's been designed for large Americans, and the available room in the first and second rows is tremendous—although Cars.com points out that adjustable pedals aren't offered. The third-row seating has reasonable space for smaller adults who are willing to contort a bit for entry and exit. ConsumerGuide says “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.” Motor Trend “found the Toyota very roomy and comfortable.” And with the power-folding option, expanding the already generous rear cargo area is a breeze.

Reviewers like the versatility of the interior and how easily the seats can be moved or reconfigured for cargo. 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.” Automobile jokes that it’s “an alternative to a motorhome, with space for eight family members and every convenience but beds.” Edmunds calls the interior "a triumph of ergonomics, storage bins and family-friendly conveniences."

Most of the interior design and controls carry over from the Tundra, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, as the Tundra has been criticized for being too plasticky. Edmunds is one of the few to agree with TheCarConnection.com in thinking the interior details aren't quite up to par, noting some “inconsistent gaps and color mismatches among a couple parts and panels.” Road & Track gushes about the “yards upon yards of rich feeling (and smelling) high-quality leather” in the Toyota, though, and Edmunds does add that the design itself is “a triumph of ergonomics, storage bins and family-friendly conveniences.”

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2010 Toyota Sequoia

Safety

Although we don't have the most complete picture on the 2010 Toyota Sequoia's occupant protection, its sheer size and long list of safety features are positives.

A full set of crash-test results aren't available on the 2010 Toyota Sequoia, but it does get a five-star rating for driver-side front-impact protection, along with four stars for the front passenger from NHTSA.

The 2010 Sequoia also comes with all the expected safety equipment, including electronic stability control, side, and side curtain airbags. The Sequoia’s height and sheer size, paired with tough outward visibility, make it cumbersome to maneuver, so you might be at a disadvantage versus a smaller, nimbler vehicle in avoiding an accident in the first place.

The optional navigation system on the Sequoia includes a backup camera, but Cars.com remarks, "you can't get the feature as a lower-priced, stand-alone option without navigation, as you can on the Tundra and smaller Highlander SUV. Disappointing."

According to Car and Driver, “the Sequoia delivers, starting with standard electronic stability control and roll-sensing side curtain airbags for all three rows.”

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2010 Toyota Sequoia

Features

The 2010 Toyota Sequoia is well-equipped, but to get the top features, you'll need to step up to the Platinum model.

Shoppers for full-size sport-utility vehihicles expect a very full range of standard features and a high level of tech options, and the 2010 Toyota Sequoia has all that.

There are few options on the Sequoia, but the lineup is split into base, Limited, and Platinum models, with the Platinum adding skid plates, a power hatch, heated mirrors, a rear-seat DVD system, a premium JBL sound system, a nav system with XM NavTraffic, perforated heated and ventilated captain's chairs, and real wood trim.

All three versions sport standard three-zone climate control, luxurious leather seats, and six-disc CD changer. For 2010, the standard-feature list is bolstered to include Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB port, and aux-in port.

Autoblog highlights the ultrasonic parking sensor system available on the Sequoia, noting, "Drive up windows at fast food restaurants freaked out the system, but the Sonar switch is close at hand, allowing us to get our Frostys in peace."

"The navigation system is easy to use, but frustrating that radio presets aren't intuitively found," says Autoblog. "Less reliance on the LCD would make operating the entertainment and navigation systems easier."

Among the options are a navigation system, DVD entertainment, a power liftgate, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, and a sunroof. Also available in the 2010 Sequoia are middle-row captain's chairs, premium audio, and a reclining/power folding 60/40 split third-row bench.

Rounding out the list of options and features in the 2010 Sequoia is a controllable air suspension and a moonroof with full tilt and slide functionality.

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