2005 Toyota Sequoia
2005 Toyota Sequoia; photo courtesy Toyota. Click image to enlarge


By Chris Chase

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2001-2007 Toyota Sequoia

The Sequoia is one of the largest trees on Earth, some standing more than 115 metres high. I think it’s clear, then, where Toyota got the inspiration for the name of its largest SUV. At a little less than two metres tall, the Toyota Sequoia’s got nothing on that massive tree, but it is still the largest vehicle that Toyota affixes its name to on this continent.

In the U.S., the Sequoia is slotted in between the 4Runner and Land Cruiser price-wise, but in Canada where the Land Cruiser hasn’t been sold for some time, the Sequoia is the priciest truck in the company’s lineup.

In 2001, the Sequoia was based on the Toyota Tundra pickup, and shared its platform, front-end styling and 4.7-litre V8, originally rated at 240 horsepower and mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. In 2005, power increased to 282 horsepower thanks to the addition of Toyota’s VVT-i variable valve timing system, and the transmission was upgraded to a five-speed. A revised method of calculating horsepower meant a nine-horsepower drop (to 273) in 2007.

Verdict

Highs: Powerful and efficient motor in later models
Lows: Some uncharacteristic build quality issues

Even when you’re named after a tree, it’s tough to be green when you pack a V8 and have to haul around two-and-a-half tons of sheet metal. With its original engine, the Sequoia had the baggage of fuel consumption ratings of 17 L/100 km (city) and about 12.5 L/100 km on the highway. The VVT-i engine helped to lower that city number to about 16 L/100 km but the change didn’t affect highway consumption. How do those compare? Well, a 2007 GMC Yukon or Chevy Tahoe with a 4.8-litre V8 is rated at 15.6 L/100 km (city) and 10.6 L/100km (highway); a 2007 Ford Expedition, which comes standard with a larger, 5.4-litre V8, is rated at 17.1 L/100 km (city) and 12.4 L/100 km (highway).

2005 Toyota Sequoia
2005 Toyota Sequoia; photo courtesy Toyota. Click image to enlarge

As Toyota’s first full-size anything, the Sequoia has mostly lived up to the company’s quality reputation. There are a few trouble spots to be aware of, however.

One is an apparent fault in the stability/traction control (VSC in Toyota-speak) system. Many owners report a sudden, but very short-lived loss of power, and when the truck rights itself, the stability control warning light is on and the system doesn’t work. The fix is usually a new VSC control module, which, according to posts in the Sequoia discussion section at TundraSolutions.com, adds up to close to $2,000. There are actually several threads in the Sequoia forum about this issue.

Some TundraSolutions.com members have posted about door and tailgate handles that break easily. TundraSolutions also offers a DIY fix for the broken tailgate handle problem. The motors that work the Tundra’s roll-down tailgate window and rear wiper seem prone to failure. Here’s a thread talking about that issue.

2005 Toyota Sequoia
2005 Toyota Sequoia
2005 Toyota Sequoia; top photo by Rob Rothwell, bottom photo courtesy Toyota. Click image to enlarge

In crash safety, the 2002 Sequoia earned four stars for driver and five stars for front passenger protection in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) frontal impact test. In 2003, the Sequoia earned five stars in both categories; side impact safety was never tested, and the NHTSA doesn’t have results for the Sequoia at all after 2004. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t tested the Sequoia at all.

From the start, the Sequoia came standard with anti-lock brakes, side airbags and traction control.

Typical for Toyota, the Sequoia has held its value quite well over the years. At $15,575 for a 2001 SR5 and $17,375 (both Canadian Red Book values) for a Limited model, this truck is still worth about a third of its original MSRP. Buy a 2007 model used (it was offered in Limited trim only) and you can expect to pay about $50,000, about $15,000 off the price when new. For prices in the $25,000 to $35,000 range, shop for a 2004 or 2005 model.

Sure, the Sequoia is big, but Toyota promises even bigger things from a new, second-generation version due to go on sale this year. If your budget isn’t quite big enough to accommodate this truck’s substantial MSRP, a used first-generation Sequoia would make a great choice for a full-size SUV; but if a deal on a decent – and recent – full-size truck is more your thing, think about a 2007 Chevy Tahoe or GMC Yukon. These are great trucks, and while General Motors’ reliability history isn’t as good as Toyotas, the Tahoe and Yukon do seem well-built and should be just as capable as the Sequoia for heavy lifting jobs.


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Online resources

As far as I can tell from my brief search of the web, TundraSolutions.com is best site out there for information on the Sequoia (as well as other Toyota trucks). It’s truck-centric, so there’s no search through threads about Echos and Corollas to find out what the Sequoia’s towing capacity is, for example. ToyotaFans.net has a truck section, but if the entire site is quieter than other Toyota sites, the truck section is a bit of a snooze-fest, with the Sequoia section being particularly slow. ToyotaNation.com is one of my favourite auto-related sites on the web (mainly because it’s Canadian-based), but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to a Toyota truck owner, as the truck sections are far less busy than the car-related discussion areas.


Recalls

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005151; Units affected: 14,341 (includes other models)

2002-2004: On certain vehicles, a manufacturing issue with the front lower ball joint could result in premature wear. If the vehicle is operated for an extended period of time in this condition, the ball joint may eventually experience excessive wear and looseness, resulting in increased steering effort, reduced vehicle self-centering and noise in the front suspension. In extreme cases, when the driver continues to operate the vehicle in this condition, the lower ball joint may separate from the knuckle causing a loss of vehicle steering control. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the front lower ball joints.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007014; Units affected: 10,943 (includes other models)

2004-2007: On certain vehicles, a manufacturing issue with the front lower ball joint could result in premature wear. If the vehicle is operated for an extended period of time in this condition, the ball joint may eventually experience excessive wear and looseness, resulting in increased steering effort, reduced vehicle self-centering and noise in the front suspension. In extreme cases, when the driver continues to operate the vehicle in this condition, the lower ball joint may separate from the knuckle causing a loss of vehicle steering control. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the front lower ball joints.


Manufacturer’s Website

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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