Toyota recently invited us to North Carolina to view the all-new 2008 Sequoia. Based upon the now truly fullsize Tundra pickup, the new Sequoia is equally fullsized and larger in every way from its predecessor. With a wheelbase up almost 4 inches to 122, and overall width, height, and length bulging around an inch each, this new super-sizer is every bit a match for GM's Tahoe/Yukon and Ford's Expedition.
From the "B" pillar forward, this all-new SUV shares almost everything with the Tundra. From the bulldoggish-looking sheetmetal, dash layout, and center console, to the powerful i-Force 5.7L V-8, six-speed AB60F automatic and double-wishbone coilover front suspension, fans of the new Tundra will be all over the new Sequoia.
The real news is behind those "B" pillars. Those clever Toyota engineers have definitely raised the bar as far as comfortable seating, ease of ingress and egress, and overall convenience is concerned. First, upon opening the rear doors you'll notice they swing extra wide, allowing for access into the rear seating area, a maneuver that is as easy as climbing into the front. There is no wheelwell to climb around. Next, flipping the second-row seat(s) to access the third-row seat is accomplished with a very logical, one-handed flip of a large lever. Once the seat is forward, it is an easy maneuver into the third row and a trip worth taking. This ain't your familiar third-row seat! This 60/40 three-seater has a power reclining back, headroom within 1 inch of the second row, large armrests, and multiple cupholders. (There are a total of 16 cupholders in the vehicle!) We testers found sitting in the third seat, and folding the second row flat, made for a foot rest-equipped "chair" that would rival your Lazy Boy back in your living room.
Back in the second row, you'll find either a 40/20/40 bench (couch?) that is (optionally) heated, fully reclines, and slides fore and aft. The top-of-the-line Platinum series features captains' chairs and a large center console. Of course, rear climate control, a 9-inch LCD display, and audio/video jacks are all there to keep the kiddies from asking, "When are we going to get there?"
Meanwhile, as the driver up front, you can enjoy the heated or cooled, 10-way-adjustable captain's chair. You can drown out your seven other passengers with a 14-speaker JBL designed audio system, or ignore them while studying your forward progress on the 7-inch navigation screen. Get a phone call? Answer it via the hands-free Bluetooth voice recognition system accessed on the steering wheel.
So it's the weekend, the kids are at practice, and you gotta haul some stuff from the garden center? No problem, just line it up to the loading dock with the help of the backup TV camera and fold all the seats flat: the second row via that same easy lever, and the third by pushing a button and watching it power flat. Found an 11-foot ladder you just gotta have? Just power the front passenger seat back flat and stuff that thing it there. With the Sequoia, there is no need to remove bulky, cumbersome seats in order to haul big stuff.
Now it's Sunday and time to tow the boat to the lake. It's a piece of cake hooking it up as the TV camera allows you to see the hitch. Once under way, the 5.7L i-Force doesn't break a sweat as it's rated to tow up to a best-in-class 10,000 pounds. In fact, during our introduction, Toyota went to the trouble to allow us to tow 6,000-plus-pound ski boats around to show us the new Sequoia has what it takes for towing. With the towing package, a receiver hitch is integrated into the frame as part of the rear crossmember, not just a bolt-on add-on. The rig is also prewired for both four- and seven-prong trailer plugs.
Speaking of frames, the Sequoia's frame again is similar to the Tundra forward of the A-pillar, but after that it is fully boxed the length of the vehicle and considerably different at the rear because the Sequoia utilizes an independent rear suspension (IRS). Yep, there goes the 'wheelability. Toyota even acknowledged that the new Sequoia isn't designed with 'wheeling in mind and pointed to other vehicles in their lineup possessing better traction capabilities. Nevertheless, the Sequoia shares the Tundra's low-range-equipped JF3A transfer case with part- and full-time 4WD modes. Finding any traction via the fully independent (read non-articulating) suspension falls to Toyota's Active-Trac traction control system which does a fairly seamless job of getting traction to a tire with grip. However, with low-hanging running boards and little-to-no skidplate protection underneath, you had better stick to fire roads and boat ramps.
Overall, the new Sequoia is a homerun at everything it was designed to do, which is mainly a safe, convenient, everyday family hauler and also a take-the-toys, long-distance vacation hauler. Toyota hasn't missed a thing, especially from the interior point of view. The competition had better get back to their drawing boards. There are many other features we haven't touched on here, and as soon as we can get our hands on one, we'll bring you a full driving report.
Vehicle/model: 2008 Toyota Sequoia
Base price: N/A
Engine: 5.7L DOHC V-8
Max hp & torque (lb-ft): 381/401
Transmission(s): Six-speed ECT automatic
Transfer case: JF3A part-time two-speed
Low range ratio: 2.62:1
Suspension f/r: Double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar/Double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Ring and pinion: 4.30:1 (with Tow Pkg.)
Max crawl ratio: 37.55:1
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes, f/r: 13.9-inch vented disc/13.6-inch vented discs
Wheels (tested): 20x7.7 alloy
Tires (tested): P275/55R20 M + S radials
Wheelbase (in): 122.0
Length (in): 205.1
Height (in): 74.6
Base curb weight (lb): 5,985 (Limited 4x4)
Approach/departure angles (deg): 27.21
Minimum ground clearance (in): 10.0
GVWR (lb): 7,300 (Limited 4x4)
Max cargo volume (cu ft): 120.8
Max towing capacity (lb): 10,000
EPA mileage figures, city/hwy (mpg): 13/18
Fuel capacity (gal): 26.4