Toyota is going after a sizable chunk of the full-size SUV market with its 2002 Sequoia. Introduced just last year, it slots between the 4Runner and Land Cruiser in price but not size.
Larger than a Tahoe or Yukon and about the same size as an Expedition, the Sequoia’s length, width, height, wheelbase and interior space all measure greater than the Chevrolet and GMC, while third-seat room and cargo space is on par with all three competing models. The Sequoia only offers eight-passenger capacity, compared to a maximum of nine occupants in the Tahoe, Yukon and Expedition.
Built on the same platform as the Tundra truck, the Sequoia incorporates a few key modifications to help it deliver a more docile ride. Structurally identical to the Toyota Tundra pickup from the front doors forward, the Sequoia gets additional frame reinforcement and a sophisticated five-link coil spring rear suspension for improved ride quality and control. Despite its imposing size, the big brute feels surprisingly agile around town, with an easy-to-drive character more akin to a Camry than a full-size sport-ute.
The Sequoia is powered by a smooth and silent 4.7-liter V8 making 240 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque using regular unleaded fuel. It’s also the first Toyota truck to be certified as a ULEV (ultra-low-emission vehicle). Two- or four-wheel-drive models are available. The Sequoia’s maximum towing capacity tops out at 6,500 pounds (6,200 on four-wheel-drive models), a respectable, though significantly less stout, figure than its heavier-duty competition.
Safety features are plentiful. All Sequoias come with a traction control system and Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), Toyota’s stability control system that helps to maintain the vehicle’s cornering stability in situations where the truck is about to lose traction and skid sideways. Other hardware includes antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), dual front airbags and three-point seatbelts for all seating positions (the front belts have force limiters and pre-tensioners, while all positions except the driver’s are ALR/ELR, allowing for easier installation of child seats). Side airbags along with head-protection side curtain airbags are optional.
Two trim levels are available: SR5 and loaded-up Limited. The latter buys you standard gear like leather seating, power retractable exterior mirrors, dual air conditioning, seat heaters, ten-speaker JBL sound system and aluminum wheels. Limited also includes third-row seating, privacy glass, a roof rack and a tow hitch. Both models offer outstanding comfort for both front and rear passengers.
The Sequoia is built alongside the Tundra pickup truck near Terre Haute, Ind. A loaded-up Sequoia certainly isn’t cheap, but compare similarly equipped Expeditions and Tahoe/Yukons, and you’ll find that the Sequoia prices out almost identical to its domestic competition. If you want one, consider this: Toyota expects to build only 60,000 Sequoias annually. We predict a serious shortfall, resulting in demand that far outstrips supply. You should probably start discussing your order with your Toyota dealer, like, yesterday.