2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited
2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited. Click image to enlarge
Related articles on Autos

First Drives

2008 Toyota Sequoia, by Jil McIntosh

Manufacturer’s web site
Toyota Canada

Review and photos by Haney Louka

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
2008 Toyota Sequoia

Winnipeg, Manitoba – Only when one sees Toyota’s new Sequoia parked next to mere mortal vehicles does one begin to appreciate its immense presence. My friend’s Toyota Sienna van could have been mistaken for a Suzuki Swift parked on my driveway next to this behemoth.

The new full-size SUV from Toyota – poised to compete with the Yukons, Expeditions, Aspens, and Armadas of this world – has been redesigned for 2008, with special emphasis on a larger, more powerful engine option and the lowest Canadian starting price since 2001.

That new starting price is now $44,675 for the SR5, which is more than $13,000 less than the 2006 Sequoia SR5. Last year only the Limited trim level was offered and had a price tag of $65,100. The ’08 Sequoia Limited (as our tester was equipped) now carries a list price of $54,200 and even the range-topping Platinum Edition comes in just below the $60K mark.

2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited
2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited. Click image to enlarge

The price reductions aren’t limited to the Sequoia: most models across the Toyota/Lexus range have been subjected to the most aggressive retail price adjustments in the industry to account for the strength of the Canadian dollar.

Standard equipment levels haven’t been sacrificed either: even the “base” SR5 includes leather seats, three-zone automatic climate control, power moonroof, a roof rack, towing hitch and wiring harness, 18-inch alloys, and headlight washers. Standard safety features include six airbags, stability control, tire pressure monitoring system, and clearance and back-up sensors.

Stepping up to the Limited means getting the more powerful drivetrain (more later), load-levelling suspension, premium audio with Bluetooth, auto-dimming mirror, power rear liftgate, 20-inch wheels, and turn signals incorporated into the exterior mirrors. A $3,700 tech package can be ordered with the Limited which gives buyers a rear seat DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones, nine-inch rear monitor, memory for the driver’s seat and mirrors, and a few other goodies.

The Platinum Edition gets all of that plus adaptive variable suspension, laser cruise control, a 2nd row centre console, ventilated front seats, and heated second row seats.

2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited
2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited. Click image to enlarge

The base engine (only on SR5s) is the carryover 4.7-litre unit from last year. Producing 276 hp and 313 lb-ft of torque, it’s no slouch on its own, but next to the new 5.7-litre it seems a bit of an underachiever, especially when you consider that though the larger motor’s output numbers are 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, the new engine consumes slightly less fuel according to official published figures (its combined city/highway consumption is 14.0 L/100 km, or 0.4 L/100 km less than that of the 4.7-litre unit).

It’s important to remember, though, that those numbers are developed in a laboratory setting using strict controls on speeds, including rates of acceleration. Superior fuel consumption with the 5.7-litre engine would only be realized if it were driven in an identical fashion to the truck with the smaller engine. And what would be the point of that? At the end of the day, the higher output of the 5.7 will most certainly be enjoyed by the truck’s owner and they shouldn’t expect to benefit from lower fuel consumption.

My own experience netted just less than 14 L/100 km in strictly highway conditions, and 18.5-20.5 L/100 km in stop-and-go city driving.

The 5.7 is the same engine in the Tundra pickup and Lexus LX 570, and it certainly gets these mammoth vehicles going in a hurry. And by mammoth I mean 6,000 lb. before payload and towing loads.

2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited
2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited. Click image to enlarge

The extra power and fuel economy are managed through a new six-speed automatic transmission, available only with the 5.7 (the base engine gets a five-speed). Engine and transmission coolers are standard across the model range and allow a rated towing capacity of up to 4,125 kg (9,095 lb), depending on the trim level.

One might expect a fully automatic all-wheel drive system on Toyota’s flagship SUV, but that’s not the case. A dash-mounted switch allows the driver to manually change from two- to four-wheel drive and into low range. This system is partly responsible for keeping the Sequoia’s fuel consumption from getting even higher by the use of an automatically disconnecting front differential when the vehicle is in 2WD mode.

It all works together quite nicely. The V8 is smooth and refined, aided by excellent response from the six-speed. The transmission never argued about kicking down a couple of gears where warranted, to the point that the manual mode is almost totally redundant in this vehicle. Let the transmission’s computer do the shifting in this truck and it’ll work out just fine.

The truck has a tight turning circle and great visibility which would actually make it quite city-friendly were it not for the visibly moving fuel gauge needle I could see out of the corner of my eye.

The truck was pushed around a bit on the highway with a stiff cross wind, but that’s not a surprise considering that it has all of the aerodynamic qualities of a house.

2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited
2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited
2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited. Click image to enlarge

I found the Sequoia’s interior to be fairly commodious on the whole. Second-row legroom is plentiful, but the third row is less comfortable as it suffers from a too-low seat cushion that lacks thigh support.

Storage abounds. A cavernous centre console storage area, three cupholders, and four bottle holders mean that front seat passengers have room for everything.

Cargo capacity is a respectable 3,420 litres behind the front seats. Large by most measures, but we’re still not in van territory: Toyota’s own Sienna can swallow more than 4,200 litres of your stuff.

There’s one thing that I’ve noticed with all Toyota and Lexus models that I’ve tested in recent memory: the vehicle cannot be locked unless all doors are closed. Whether you have small children that need to be lifted out of the truck or need to take armloads of things from the rear cargo area, it’s nice to be able to hit the lock button on the fob, put it in your pocket, and then grab the cargo (precious or otherwise) from the truck. This feature is ostensibly used to prevent owners from locking the keys in the truck, but I’m prepared to take a little responsibility for my own actions for the added convenience of being able to lock the truck with a door or two open.

The Sequoia proved a capable family hauler with a refined powertrain and a high measure of maneuverability in tight spaces. In today’s economic climate, though, it’s tough to make a case for it (or any other vehicle in its class) unless you seriously need the towing capacity.

Pricing: 2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited

Base price: $54,200 (Base price, SR5: $44,675)
Options: None
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,390

Price as tested: $55,690
Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

  • Specifications: 2008 Toyota Sequoia

    Related articles on Autos

    First Drives

  • 2008 Toyota Sequoia, by Jil McIntosh

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Chrysler Aspen
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Dodge Durango
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Ford Expedition
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2008 GMC Yukon
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Nissan Armada

    Manufacturer’s web site
  • Toyota Canada
  • Connect with Autos.ca