Launched during the 2001 model year, Toyota’s newest full-size sport utility vehicle evolved from the company’s 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 automaker’s own Land Cruiser. Toyota now has five SUVs in its lineup, and the Sequoia is the largest. Offered in SR5 and upscale Limited trim levels, the Sequoia is priced lower than the luxurious Land Cruiser and higher than the midsize 4Runner, which is also a truck-based SUV.
Powered by a 4.7-liter V-8 engine, the Sequoia may be equipped with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. No significant changes are evident on the 2004 models.
The Sequoia rides a 118.1-inch wheelbase and measures 203.9 inches long overall — that’s 5 inches longer than the Chevrolet Tahoe and more than 11 inches longer than the Land Cruiser. Toyota shortened the Tundra’s wheelbase by 10 inches for use in the Sequoia, which is at least 76 inches wide and 73.2 to 76.2 inches tall, depending on the model.
This 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 four-wheel-drive model has 10.6 inches of ground clearance, which is more than most rivals offer.
The Sequoia seats eight people on two front buckets and two three-place bench seats. Toyota claims that the Sequoia’s interior dimensions exceed the Tahoe’s. A contemporary dashboard and control layout are similar to those in the Tundra. Stepping up to the Limited model adds leather-trimmed captain’s chairs, heated auto-retractable mirrors, and a 10-speaker JBL stereo system with cassette and CD players. A six-CD changer is optional.
Under the Hood
Toyota also borrowed the Tundra’s powertrain for its Sequoia. A 4.7-liter V-8 engine produces 240 horsepower and 315 pounds-feet of torque and mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive 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 side-impact and side curtain-type airbags, daytime running lights and Toyota’s Vehicle Stability Control electronic stability system. All eight seating positions have three-point seat belts.
Only a glance is necessary to see that the Sequoia is a really big SUV. Despite its abundant dimensions, the Sequoia doesn’t feel as immense as some of its rivals once you’ve 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 it’s hard to resist the tendency to restrain one’s foot on the gas pedal. Little correction is needed on straightaways, and there’s no tendency to wander.
Vigorous acceleration from the Sequoia’s V-8 engine is matched by an easy-action automatic transmission and column-mounted gearshift. The engine is quiet, and no other sounds are bothersome. Occupants have plenty of room, and the Sequoia offers abundant storage possibilities.