Review: 2008 Toyota Sequoia
By Paul Seredynski of MSN Autos
The new Sequoia SUV is a larger, more powerful and more luxurious version of the model it replaces. Since it's based on the new Tundra pickup truck, those looking for a super-sized version of the comfy and plush Highlander should look elsewhere.
Compared to the car-based Highlander, the truck-based Sequoia has a far stiffer ride-quality best described as industrial. Though on-road ride quality suffers due to its truck-based roots, both off-road and towing capacity (up to 10,000 pounds) are impressive, and the rough edge is taken off by a posh interior and the plush veneer of a new Platinum trim level.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, tri-zone climate control, and an AUX-in audio jack; power door locks, windows and mirrors (now super-sized); an integrated tow-hitch; 3-row side-curtain airbags; and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. Among other upgrades, the Limited trim adds Bluetooth, a 10-speaker JBL audio setup, electrically adjustable front seats and a power-folding 60/40 third-row seat. The Platinum edition adds as standard-fare such swank options as 20-inch wheels, a navigation system, a powered rear hatch, and heated (first two rows) and cooled (front only) seats.
Under the Hood
The 5.7-liter features all-aluminum construction and variable timing on both the intake and exhaust cams (Dual VVT-i), helping improve efficiency and earning a ULEV II emissions rating. Compared to the 4.7-liter, the big V8 produces an extra 105 horsepower (381) and 401 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm. Though significantly more powerful, thanks in part to its 6-speed tranny, the larger motor earns higher EPA mileage ratings. Two-wheel-drive (2WD) models with the 4.7-liter net 14/17 (city/hwy) mpg and 14/19 with the 5.7-liter; 4WD models net 13/16 and 13/18 marks, respectively.
Front-row buckets are comfy and feature a wide range of adjustments. The second-row seats flop and recline, and can slide fore-and-aft for nearly any combo of passengers and gear. The rear doors open wide to ease loading, and handy levers help prep second-row seats for those headed back to row three, which is great for kids but will easily serve adults on short trips.
Compared to the previous-gen Sequoia, interior dimensions are up in most every direction, though cargo space drops a little thanks to a third-row seat that is no longer removable. However, the third row now reclines, and with the power-folding option creating a nearly flat floor, loading is a snap.
On the Road
The 5.7-liter/6-speed combo on our 4WD Limited test machine proved a punchy and swift combination. Though the majority of this motor's power resides farther up the tach, the smooth shifting automatic keeps the stout V8 seamlessly in the meat of its ample power curve. The only downside is a throttle that's a bit too jumpy on initial tip-in. From a standstill, passengers may suspect a loss of feeling in the driver's right foot. For a vehicle of its substantial size and weight, the Sequoia seemed remarkably fleet. Right in line with EPA estimates, we averaged 17 mpg.
With big glass all around, visibility from the high driver's perch is excellent, and the surprisingly tight turning radius will have you making adept parking lot and U-turn maneuvers that will confound other SUV pilots. Brake-pedal feel is immediate, even if the tires' contact patches always seem distant, and road noise is hushed for a vehicle with such large rubber. For a holiday machine with lots of family and toys in tow, few machines get down the road or trail in such a pleasant and stable manner.
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