2003 Toyota Sequoia

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2001 Toyota Sequoia

This 2001 review is representative of model years 2001 to 2007.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

One of the nicest new large sport-utility vehicles.
Pros:
  • Roomy
  • Lively
  • High quality
  • Eight-passenger seating
Cons:
  • Conventional styling
  • Generally truck-like ride
  • Low fuel economy

Toyota dealers have pressured that automaker for several years to offer a high-volume full-size sport-utility vehicle because such a sport ute is very profitable. They had the Land Cruiser, but it's a costly, low-volume truck with almost a cult-like following.

Not one to do things halfway, Toyota thus has come up for 2001 with the Sequoia, which is the largest vehicle ever sold in this country by a Japanese automaker. It's bigger and roomier than the costlier $52,895 Land Cruiser and should make all those Toyota dealers smile.

Sequoia prices range from $30,815 for the entry SR5 rear-drive model, which is fairly well equipped, to $42,275 for the top-line LTD 4-wheel-drive version.

Designed for America
The 8-passenger Sequoia was expressly designed for the U.S. market, where such things as its standard third-row seating are becoming expected items in big sport utes.

The aptly named rugged and tall Sequoia competes head-to-head with the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe, which have a similar exterior size. These are not the biggest full-size sport utes, but they're close to being the largest ones.

Based on Pickup
The Sequoia is not a "ground up" new vehicle because it's based on Toyota's fairly new full-size Tundra pickup truck. The Sequoia and Tundra are even assembled in the same Indiana plant.

The Sequoia has a modified Tundra front suspension and different rear suspension than that pickup to give it a more comfortable ride. And the rear half of the frame is different from the Tundra's.

But the ride still is generally truck-like. Many buyers of big $30,000-plus sport utes expect a car-like ride, but there's only so much you can do to make a truck ride like a car if you're using essentially the same beefy frame and chassis as a heavy-duty pickup.

However, the Sequoia's frame rails are boxed to reduce vibration and harshness. And it should be at least as tough as the Tundra, which competes with rugged U.S. pickups such as the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado.

Off-Road Competence
Toyota knows few of the highly civilized Sequoias will be bought by off-road buffs who delight in bashing trucks off road. So the 4-wheel-drive system can be engaged via a dashboard button. However, the Sequoia does pretty well during off-road driving because ground clearance is high and the effective 4-wheel-drive system has a low range.

Stability Features
Full-size sport utes have gotten a reputation for rolling over easily. So Toyota has done a lot to give the Sequoia good stability during regular driving. For example, traction control is standard on both 2- and 4-wheel-drive models. And the Sequoia has a vehicle skid control system to maintain cornering stability in situations where it's about to lose its road grip.

Side-impact airbags and curtain-shield side airbags are optional for front occupants on all models. Three-point seat belts are at all passenger-seating positions. And there are height-adjustable belt anchors for front-seat occupants and outboard passengers in the second row.

Decent Handling
Although rather heavy, the steering is quick. It allows this truck, which weighs from 5,070 to 5,295 pounds, to be steered much like a car. The Sequoia is too big, high and heavy to handle like a car. But road manners are helped by front/rear anti-sway bars and it isn't hard to maneuver once away from confining areas.

A standard anti-lock brake system with Toyota's Electronic Brake Distribution system that adjusts braking to the load carried helps provide confident stopping.

The 240-horsepower V8 is a version of the Tundra's V8 and works with a responsive 4-speed automatic transmission. The 4.7-liter engine is thoroughly modern, with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It provides strong acceleration to 65 mph, where it revs at 2100 rpm for supremely relaxed steady cruising. The 65-75 mph passing time is decent.

Larger V8 Needed
But the engine is noisy during hard acceleration. And the Sequoia's towing ability is not impressive for a sport ute in its class. Those are signs that a larger V8 with more torque is needed for this truck, which only delivers an estimated 14 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway with rear-drive and 14 and 17 with 4-wheel drive.

However, perhaps fearful that environmentalists will hurl rocks at the Sequoia, Toyota gave it an engine that gets EPA ultra-low-emission status.

Toyota—Japan's largest automaker—is essentially conservative. The Sequoia thus has ordinary styling and could be mistaken for any number of sport utes. But it isn't unattractive and features Toyota's high assembly quality and superb fit and finish.

Comfortable Interior
Extra effort is needed to get in and out of the Sequoia, which has running boards wide enough to provide decent entry and exit help for even those with big shoes. But the payoff is that seating is high in the soothingly quiet, nicely designed interior. Front seats are especially comfortable and there are smooth controls and high-quality materials.

Cupholders are large and ashtrays are even in the rear doors, which have windows that roll all the way down. Nifty touches include a dashboard sign indicating what side the fuel door is on. Large outside mirrors help in maneuvering, but parking is hampered by poor rearward visibility.

Cargo room is decent even with the third-row seat in its regular position, which can't be said for all larger sport utes.

Versatile Seating
Seating versatility is quite good. Second-row seats are 60/40 split/fold/recline and tumble units. The third-row 50/50 split seats aren't all that hard to reach; they also fold, recline and tumble—and can slide forward and back to adjust either passenger legroom or rear cargo area. Each rear-seat half weighs 52 pounds for generally easy removal.

Expect the Sequoia to be a strong contender. It has Toyota's highly trusted nameplate and is roomy, comfortable and generally well executed. But let's hope better styling and a stronger engine are in its future.

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BB06 - 7/26/2014 2:09:24 AM