2011 Toyota Sequoia

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Review: 2008 Toyota Sequoia

This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2014.
By Paul Seredynski of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.5

Bottom Line:

Toyota’s new Tundra-based Sequoia is a versatile, rugged and luxurious full-sized SUV for the outdoor-active family. Though deftly coated in opulent touches yet true to its truck roots, this stiff, brawny, and rugged machine is not an XL-sized version of the pillowy, car-based Highlander.
Pros:
  • Luxurious and versatile interior
  • Potent V8, solid towing chops
  • Impressive turning radius
Cons:
  • Truck-like ride (because it is one)
  • Jumpy throttle tip-in
  • Large tank to fill

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.

Model Lineup
The latest Sequoia is available in three trim levels with two V8 engines. The standard SR5 trim is the only model to offer the 4.7-liter V8, which is paired to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Both the swankier Limited trim and range-topping Platinum receive the new 5.7-liter V8 from the Tundra paired to a 6-speed automatic, which is an optional combo in the SR5. Regardless of trim level or engine, two- or four-wheel drive (4WD) is an option across the lineup.

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 4.7-liter engine available in the standard SR5 trim is a carryover from the previous generation Sequoia. This "old" iron-block engine is paired with a 5-speed automatic, and with variable intake-cam timing (VVT-i) produces 276 horsepower and 314 lb-ft of torque at 3400 rpm. The stonkin' 5.7-liter V8 from the new Tundra is standard motivational fare in both the Limited and Platinum versions, and its sole tranny partner is a 6-speed automatic. Fortunately both engines take regular gas.

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.

Inner Space
The Sequoia's interior, pulled almost straight from the Tundra, exudes quality and tight panel fits. Compared to the last-gen Sequoia, bulkier controls highlight a functional set of legible and reachable switchgear. Most welcome is the slick placement of redundant switches for the powered hatch and third-row seats. Though nicely outfitted even in base trim, if you're willing to swell the sticker there is no lack of available high-end features. The view from the back-up camera is impressively wide-angled and clear, though navigating the nav-system's non-intuitive menus can prove frustrating.

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
Based on a fully boxed version of the already stout Tundra platform, the truck-like nature of the Sequoia is ever-present from the driver's seat. Though it features a fully independent suspension, off-road and towing requirements create a stiff platform that's sweet on smooth pavement, but can induce annoying head-bob on rougher tracks. Steering effort is mall parking-lot light and, though a bit numb, is very accurate.

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.

Right for You?
Though it's difficult from the helm to forget the Sequoia's seriously heavy-duty roots, its fantastic build quality and overall sense of solidity should prove extremely satisfying to owners. Pricing starts at $34,150 for a 2WD SR5 and tops out at $55,600 for a 4WD Platinum. If the thought of 26-gallon fill-ups at four clams a bucket doesn't make you flinch, and if you have a big tribe, the new Sequoia is a wildly functional, swift, practical, rugged and luxurious machine. While coddling occupants in a loaded interior, it can easily tow all your toys to places most soft-roaders would fear to tread.

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BB03 - 8/21/2014 3:52:30 AM