All new Sequoia is versatile tow vehicle, family hauler and off-roader
In a world worried about global warming, air pollution and fuel-efficiency, big SUV’s seem like an anachronism. Does anyone really need a 5,300 pound 4WD vehicle to go to the grocery store, or to commute to the office?
But if you need a vehicle to do those things AND ferry the kids and their friends to a soccer match, tow the boat up to the lake, haul 4X8 sheets of plywood home from Lumberland, and tackle rain-drenched back roads on the way up to the cabin, then a full-size SUV is the only vehicle to have.
Full-size SUV’s like the new Toyota Sequoia, Ford Expedition, Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon seat seven or eight passengers, and include all the features of a well-equipped sedan or minivan. In addition, they have the traction of 4WD, the ground clearance of a truck, and surprisingly refined ride and handling.
Fuel consumption is of course horrible – or worse than horrible – and the retail price of a big SUV ain’t cheap – generally between $40,000 and $70,000.
But for someone with a big family who tows a travel trailer and has a recreational lifestyle, a full-size SUV is the one vehicle that can do it all.
Sequoia is all-new
The full-size, V8-powered, eight-passenger Toyota Sequoia is all-new for 2001. It’s based on the recently introduced Tundra pickup truck, and was designed for the North American market. Astute Toyota observers will remember that Toyota has another big SUV, the Landcruiser, but that model is not sold in Canada (it is sold in the U.S.). Lexus offers a luxury version of the Landcruiser called the LX470 in Canada, but it’s priced considerably higher than the Sequoia and the Landcruiser.
Standard features on the Sequoia include driver-selectable 4WD and a Low range gear, a standard four-speed automatic transmission with a column shift lever and an overdrive lockout button, three rows of seats with a variety of configurations, and many standard luxury and safety features including front, side and head airbags and automatic vehicle stability control.
Though it’s based on a truck chassis, the Sequoia’s drivetrain, brakes and safety features are really quite sophisticated. Its standard 4.7 litre DOHC 32 valve V8 engine (borrowed from the Tundra) produces 240 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 315 ft-lb. of torque at 3400 rpm. This gives the Sequoia a hefty towing capacity of 2812 kg (6200 lb.), and a maximum payload of 600 kg (1323 lb.).
And even though it’s a big V8 engine, it meets California ULEV (ultra-low emissions standards).
All Sequoia’s include standard four wheel disc brakes with ABS, Active Traction Control (works on rear wheel in 2WD, and on all wheels in 4WD), and Vehicle Stability Control, an automatic anti-skid system that regulates the throttle and selectively applies the brakes to individual wheels to correct understeer (front-end ploughing) or oversteer (rear-end swing). Also standard are big P265/70R-16 inch all-season radial tires.
A dial on the dash allows the driver to switch from 2WD to 4WD at highway speeds via an automatic disconnecting differential. A floor-mounted shift lever permits the driver to engage Low range after the vehicle has been stopped.
Combined with a 270 mm (10.6 in.) ground clearance, a rugged truck frame, and a live rear axle with coil springs, the Sequoia is capable of tackling just about any terrain – in surprising comfort.
Roomy interior is well-equipped
Base Sequoia SR5 models, which start at $45,400, are well-equipped. They have standard eight passenger seating, AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers, air conditioning, power door locks and windows, keyless entry, variable intermittent wipers, rear intermittent wiper, tachometer, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, front, side and curtain airbags, P265/70R-16 inch tires and full-size spare, four wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control and vehicle stability control.
The SR5 is available with a $4200 option package which includes alloy wheels, front and rear air conditioning, JBL AM/FM/cassette/CD with ten speakers, power front seats, running boards, towing hitch, and roof rack.
The top-of-the-line Sequoia Limited model, priced at $57,900, adds the following features to the base SR5: body-coloured bumpers, mouldings and fender flares; leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and synthetic leather door trim; aluminum-look instrument panel, JBL AM/FM/cassette/CD changer with 10 speakers, front and rear automatic climate control, power driver and front passenger seats, running boards, rear spoiler, roof rack, moonroof, towing hitch, and alloy wheels with wheel locks.
Noteworthy features in all Sequoia’s include a huge centre armrest/storage bin with a pop-up writing clipboard, folding centre armrests on the front captain’s chairs, front seat heaters with Hi/Lo settings, rear side windows that go all the way down, and plenty of cupholders and storage compartments: four front cupholders, two second row cupholders, and four third row cupholders, plus rear storage bins and map pockets.
A really useful feature is a power rear window which can be activated with a remote key fob. When open, it’s easy to toss light packages into the cargo area. Another interesting feature are power side mirrors that fold inwards to avoid being damaged in automatic carwashes.
Top-of-the-line Limited models have front and second row heater controls. Second-row passengers have their own temperature, fan, and ventilation controls which also direct air to the third row.
Love those seats
The second and third row seats can be configured just about any way you like them. The second row 60/40 split seats, which have fore-aft adjustment, will also fold flat, and tumble forwards to provide more cargo room or to allow entry to the third row. Third row 50/50 split seats fold, tumble or remove from the vehicle. This versatility gives the Sequoia exceptional passenger and cargo-carrying capability. All seats have height-adjustable head restraints except the middle rear seat.
Getting into the Sequoia requires a fairly high step up into the cabin, but this is aided by a running board which runs the length of each side. Once into the cabin, the driving position is very comfortable and the driver has a commanding view of the road – with the exception of the right rear quarter where vision is obstructed by the second row head restraint. The cabin is very roomy, with plenty of legroom and headroom for first and second row passengers, and a little less legroom for third row passengers.
The cargo area is accessed by pulling up the rear hatchback or using the power rear window. Even with the third row seat in place, there is 834 litres (27.8 cu. ft) of cargo space, and with the third row seats removed, that size doubles.
The Sequoia’s 240 horsepower 4.7 litre V8 engine is powerful, refined and smooth with minimal engine noise intruding into the cabin. One reason for this is that at a steady 100 km/h, the engine speed is just 1900 rpm. The Sequoia’s four-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly, and the body feels very tight and squeak-free. For a big, heavy vehicle, the Sequoia is easy to drive, and handling is very stable and sure-footed, enhanced by it’s wide stance and big tires. It’s 2402 kg (5295 lb) curb weight does affect vehicle dynamics though, particularly when braking and accelerating. While not underpowered or underbraked, it just feels heavy.
Fuel consumption, even under ideal conditions, is thirsty. The best you can expect is 17.4 l/100 km (16 mpg) in the city, and 12.9 l/100 km (22 mpg) on the highway. At 70 cents a litre, its 100 litre fuel tank will require $70 to fill up!
Three vehicles in one
There’s no denying the Sequoia burns a lot of gas, but to environmentalists who say the Sequoia wastes resources, think of it this way: the Sequoia is like two, or possibly three vehicles in one – a minivan, an off-road vehicle, and a towing vehicle. Conceivably, a consumer could buy this one vehicle to replace those other three vehicles, thus actually reducing overall emissions. It’s a stretch, I know..
|2001 Toyota Sequoia Limited|
|Price as tested||$57,900|
|Type||four-door, 8 passenger full-size sport utility vehicle|
|Layout||longitudinal front engine/four-wheel-drive|
|Engine||4.7 litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves|
|Horsepower||240 @ 4800 rpm|
|Torque||315 ft.-lb. @ 3400 rpm|
|Curb weight||2402 kg (5295 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||3000 mm (118.1 in.)|
|Length||5180 mm (203.9 in.)|
|Width||1910 mm (75.2 in.)|
|Height||1925 mm (75.8 in.) w/roof rack|
|Towing capacity||2812 kg (6200 lb.)|
|Payload||590 kg (1300 lb.)|
|Cargo capacity||834 litres (27.8 cu. Ft.) rear seat up|
|2208 litres (73.6 cu. Ft.) rear seat removed|
|Fuel consumption||City: 17.4 l/100 km (16 mpg)|
|Hwy: 12.9 l/100 km (22 mpg)|
|Warranty||3 yrs/60,000 km|
|Powertrain warranty||5 yrs/100,000 km|