Launched during the 2001 model year, Toyotas newest full-size sport utility vehicle evolved from the companys Tundra pickup truck and is built at the same Indiana plant. At nearly 204 inches long overall, the Sequoia is considerably longer than the Japanese automakers own Land Cruiser. Toyota now has five SUVs in its lineup, and the Sequoia is the largest. It is priced lower than the luxurious Land Cruiser and higher than the midsize 4Runner, which is being redesigned for 2003.
Powered by a 4.7-liter V-8 engine, the Sequoia may be equipped with either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). The Sequoia comes in SR5 and upscale Limited trim levels. Automotive News reports that in its first year, the Sequoia accounted for 68,574 sales, which represents quite a respectable showing. Toyota has not yet released details on changes for the 2003 model year.
The Sequoia rides a 118.1-inch wheelbase and measures nearly 204 inches long overall thats 5 inches longer than the Chevrolet Tahoe and a foot longer than the Land Cruiser. Toyota shortened the Tundras wheelbase by 10 inches for use in the Sequoia, which is about 76.4 inches wide and 73 inches tall. The full-size SUV has four side doors and a rear liftgate, and the horizontal-bar grille and front styling are similar to those on the Tundra. The 4WD model has 11 inches of ground clearance, which is more than most rivals. A power moonroof is optional.
The Sequoia seats eight occupants with two front buckets and two three-place bench seats. Toyota claims that the Sequoias interior dimensions exceed the Tahoes. A contemporary dashboard and control layout are similar to those in the Tundra. Stepping up to the Limited model adds leather-faced captains chairs, heated retractable mirrors and a 10-speaker JBL stereo system. A six-CD changer is optional.
Under the Hood
Toyota borrowed the Sequoias powertrain from its Tundra pickup. A 4.7-liter V-8 engine produces 240 horsepower and teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Both RWD and 4WD are available. A dashboard control on 4x4 models allows the driver to switch in or out of 4WD High on the fly.
Antilock brakes are standard. Options include curtain-type airbags, daytime running lights and Vehicle Stability Control Toyotas electronic stability system. All eight seating positions have three-point seat belts.
Only a glance is necessary to see that the Sequoia is really big. But despite its abundant dimensions, the Sequoia doesnt feel as immense as some of its rivals once youve managed to get inside. In fact, it drives beautifully and yields an excellent highway ride. You feel the bumps, but the suspension absorbs the brunt of the imperfections. The Sequoia takes curves better than expected, but its hard to resist the tendency to restrain ones foot on the gas pedal. Little correction is needed on straightaways, and theres no tendency to wander.
The Sequoias vigorous V-8 acceleration is matched by an easy-action automatic transmission with a column gearshift. The engine is quiet, and no other sounds are bothersome. Occupants have plenty of room all around, and this SUV offers abundant storage possibilities.