Toyota bigwigs had little difficulty in choosing a name for its new full-size SUV introduced in 2000 for public consumption. They chose Sequoia, and why not? California’s redwood is the largest living tree in the world.
Sequoia is not the largest SUV on the road. In fact, Sequoia’s bigger brother is the Land Cruiser, which is Toyota’s upgrade and luxury SUV. The big brother’s price begins at $85,000. Sequoia costs range from $48,000 to $64,000. Both huge vehicles offer seating for eight and both are powered by a 5.7-liter, 381-horsepower V-8 engine. Because of mechanical underpinnings, the Sequoia’s towing capacity is a 7,000- to 7,400-pound trailer and the Land Cruiser’s is an 8,100-pound trailer.
Choices in the four Sequoia trim levels (SR5, TRD Sport, Limited and Platinum) are rear- or four-wheel-drive and seating for seven or eight. If seven is chosen ($300 option), the middle row is furnished with two captain’s chairs. In either case, access to the third row is easy. The split middle row seats fold and move forward on a track. If captain’s chairs, they fold, too. The tracks for the middle row allow seats to move forward and backward.
At 35.1 inches, the third row excels in leg room. As noted above, middle row seats with 40.9 standard inches of leg room can move forward to offer more roominess for those in the third row. The standard middle row leg room is equivalent to that of front seats in midsize sedans.
Although the Sequoia does not have real wood to complement interior leather trim, nor does it have Land Cruiser’s off-roading prowess (for example, disconnecting sway bar to improve wheel travel in a tough environment such as a steep hill), this addition to Toyota’s SUV lineup does have qualities to appreciate.
The four-wheel, $60,020 tested Limited model had running boards for ease of entry, overhead roof rack with crossbars, tow/haul modes, tow-hitch receiver with 4/7 hitch receiver, uphill and downhill automatic shifting logic, skid plates for engine and transfer case protection, tow hooks and wide 275 tires mounted on 20-inch wheels. The spare tire, which is stored underbody, is full-size.
Standard are leather trim, heated front seats, power liftgate and, notably, power folding third row seats. Storage space behind the upright third row is 19 cubic feet. When both rear rows are folded flat, the cargo area expands to 120 cubic feet. In a sense, Sequoia resembles a work truck, as the minimum width in the cargo area is 50 inches. This means even a four-by-four-foot skid fits in flat or a sofa in an expanded cargo bay.
The cargo area is carpeted and lighted, and comes with a 12-volt power outlet.
Among many safety features is a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.
Competitors include Ford’s Expedition, Chevrolet’s Tahoe, GMC’s Yukon and Nissan’s Armada. For cargo space, a roomy third row and cargo capacity, Sequoia is hard to beat. Sequoia falls short in an outdated infotainment system and in ergonomics. Sequoia does have its own smartphone app, but does not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Also annoying, and this is really a silly quibble, is the location of the exterior mirror (heated, foldable) controls. They are on the dashboard to the left of the leather-clad and power tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Why not put those controls on the flat surface of the driver’s door armrest? Other manufacturers do. Toyota even puts those controls there on its Sienna minivan. If on the door, controls are at fingertip reach. On the dashboard, it takes an extended arm to reach them.
Vehicle: 2018 Toyota Sequoia Limited
Type: full-size, four-wheel-drive, eight-passenger SUV
Engine: 5.7-liter, 381-horsepower V-8
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Fuel tank: 26.4 gallons
Fuel usage: 13 to 17 mpg
Towing: 7,400 pounds
Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 122, 205.1, 79.9, 77, 10
Leg room in inches for three rows, front, middle, rear in inches: 42.5, 40.9, 35.3
Weight: 5,985 pounds
Suspension: independent, coil spring double wishbone, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bars front and rear
Tires (275), alloy wheels: 20-inch
Spare tire: full-size mounted underbody
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles with roadside assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
Assembly: Princeton, Indiana