Base Price (MSRP):$34,150.00 / As Tested (MSRP): $55,600.00
View The 2008 Toyota Sequoia Specifications
| Review by: John Stewart
All-new SUV bigger, stronger, and more versatile.
The 2008 Toyota Sequoia is packaged in three grades: SR5, Limited and Platinum. SR5 and Limited come standard with the 273-hp 4.7-liter V8 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Platinum comes standard with the 5.7-liter V8 and six-speed automatic. Eight-passenger seating is standard; Platinum seats seven.
SR5 ($34,150) is the entry grade and it comes standard with tri-zone air conditioning, power windows locks and back window, keyless entry, and eight-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with a plug for iPod compatibility, tilt steering, cruise control, spare tire, and mud guards.
Limited ($45,225) adds heated, leather trimmed seats, upgrades the driver's seat to 10-way adjustable, and adds leather trim to the steering wheel, seats, and gearshift knob. The rear 60/40 third row seat is power operated. The dash is upgraded with brighter Optitron gauges and a multi-information display, and the JBL Synthesis audio system includes Bluetooth capability. Outside, the Limited includes a roof rack, fog lamps, running boards and parking sonar system. Limited is also available with four-wheel drive ($48,450).
Platinum grade ($52,375) comes with the bigger engine plus 20-inch alloy wheels, a rear load-leveling suspension, a memory feature for the power seats, which are heated and air conditioned in the front. Second-row seats are heated buckets, converting the interior to seven-passenger capacity, and the navigation system with backup camera is standard with Platinum. The exterior also includes a rear spoiler, power back door, sunroof, and headlamp cleaner. Platinum is available with four-wheel drive ($55,600).
Options include a rear seat entertainment system with DVD player and rear audio controls ($1650); dynamic laser cruise control ($600); daytime running lights with on/off feature ($40). The SR5 and Limited can be upgraded with practically any combination of features listed above, including touch screen navigation with JBL Premium four-CD player with 14 speakers ($2980), rear load leveling suspension ($650), running boards ($385), fog lamps ($110), rear spoiler ($100), leather trimmed seats ($3100), towing package ($660) that includes receiver hitch, auxiliary transmission cooler, seven-pin wire connector, heavy-duty alternator, 4.30:1 gear ratio; and a cold weather kit ($230) that includes windshield wiper de-icer, headlamp cleaner, and larger battery. Also available on the Limited are 20-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels with P275/55R20 tires ($920) and Captain's chairs for the second row.
Toyota's Star safety system comes standard on all models.
Obviously larger than the previous model, the Toyota Sequoia is now definitely full size in the domestic American sense.
Compared to the Chevy Tahoe, the new Sequoia is longer and wider with a longer wheelbase. It's actually designed to look tall and oversized, so as to project strength from a distance.
The windshield angle is lower than before, accentuating bulk below the hood line, and larger high-mounted headlamps add an alert look to a cabin-forward design. Exterior mirrors are large, because they have to be, but careful smoothing has reduced wind noise, as does the use of partially hidden wipers that likewise, must be very large to sweep the large front windshield. The new design permits a drag coefficient of 0.35, respectable for a full-size truck.
From the side, large, strong-looking door handles are apparent, the kind you'd appreciate if you wear gloves. The rear doors now open 10 degrees wider for easier child seat and passenger access and have three detents, instead of two.
From the front bumper to the B-pillar, the Sequoia shares a lot of design features with the Tundra pickup, along with numerous drive train components.
Parking sensors enable easier parking and the ability to avoid people or toys lurking in the driveway.
The Toyota Sequoia cabin is built for passenger comfort, with generous legroom and headroom. Seating is designed for long days of driving, with a comfortable, unusually wide driver's seat with power lumbar support. The seats have soft, wide bolsters and the kind of adjustability that allows a driver to shift around during long drives.
The interior is conspicuously wide. With a body longer and wider than the previous model (or a current Chevrolet Tahoe), more legroom and shoulder room becomes available for people and cargo.
The dash is simple and focused, with two central gauges, speedometer and tachometer, flanked by fuel, temperature and voltage gauges. Bright rings accent the instrumentation.
A very large rectangular shifter dominates the metallic center strip area, and behind it is a wide central console designed to hold 12 CDs or four DVD cases. Our test unit had an agreeable Sand Beige interior. Gray is another standard color, and a new interior design scheme, Red Rock/Black is only available with the Platinum grade.
The four-spoke steering wheel contains controls for AC, Bluetooth-capable phones and audio functions. The steering column tilts and telescopes; our test unit had a powered memory feature.
Switches and dials are used to control windows and HVAC system. The HVAC system is designed to define and maintain three different climate zones, two in the front, and one in the back. We think Toyota does a good job when it comes to switch feel and operational consistency when it comes to dials and other touchpoints.
Two overhead compartments are suitable for sunglasses, and the control strip has sunroof controls. An electrochromic rear view mirror is standard except on SR5, and the mirror contains built-in garage door opener buttons operating on three different frequencies.
The sun visors are huge, and they slide on their hangers, providing effective shade for driver and passenger all day long. On the A-pillar are hefty grab handles, with grips big enough to support body weight as you swing into the seat.
The interior is notable for thoughtful features that increase utility, such as a compass, map light, automatic up-and-down jam protection for front power windows, and back door power window.
The Sequoia is especially designed to make the third-row passenger seats more comfortable, and more useful, more like real seating for adults. To that end, the third row seats have almost as much leg room as the second-row seats, and have adjustability features rarely seen in eight-passenger SUVs. For those who often make use of the third row, the Sequoia's standard interior layout is better than many SUVs we've seen, in which the third-row seats constitute emergency seating for smaller people only. Then again, those who do not need eight-passenger capacity can configure the Sequoia with Captain's chairs in the second row, which shifts the priority to second-row passenger comfort.
If you smoke, the Sequoia does not discriminate. One of the very few SUVs with a retractable rear hatch window (4Runner is the other) the Sequoia offers flow-through ventilation that smokers particularly appreciate, along with a closed, removable ashtray that is dish-washable, and a cigarette lighter up front.
Last but not least, the new Sequoia has ample cargo room behind the third row, and even more if you fold it down. When the seat is folded flat, large baggage or cargo can be loaded without removing the seat. It is a well-organized cargo area, even having tow hooks that can hang grocery bags. There is an optional power full-flat mechanism for the third row seat that becomes standard in Limited models.
Driving the 2008 Toyota Sequoia is like sitting in your den, watching the world go by. It may be big, but it's not tiring to operate as the day goes on.
We had a chance to spend two days driving the Sequoia on a variety of North Carolina roads and highways. We drove the Platinum model with the 5.7-liter V8, which had every possible option including laser cruise control. Our testing included an off-road track, and retrieval of a boat we would estimate in the 7000-pound range up a steep boat ramp, and onto the highway.
After all of that, we could see the Sequoia is made with a 1000-mile day in mind. It's the kind of vehicle that an American family will want for a long, long day on the interstate. It's got long legs and an effortless cruising pace. There is low noise and vibration, so you can listen to the audio system or converse at a normal tone of voice. It gets around 19 mph on the open road, so it can gobble up almost 500 miles between fill-ups on the highway. The more people, the more load, the more stuff you have, the better. No doubt about it, the Sequoia is at home on the biggest of North American roads.
In everyday driving, the suspension is surprisingly compliant for a vehicle built to carry heavy loads. There is a minimum of tummy jiggle on broken surfaces, and yet, when hard braking is called for, the front end does not dive wildly or pitch about. We had the active air suspension on our test unit, which has the ability to maintain more even ride height with heavy loads, but without a load, we're not sure the suspension would be much different. The standard setup is an independent A-arm setup at all four corners with coil springs and anti-roll bars.
We didn't do it, but we suspect the Sequoia would score highly in the drive-through fast-food test. That's the one when Dad, son, and half the little league team picks up shakes and French fries on the way home after the game. There are eight cup holders, eight bottle holders, console surfaces, everything you would want to eat in the car, and go. And then, lots of door pocket space for trash.
Driven empty, the Sequoia has an impressive reserve of torque. We loafed along at 2000 rpm or less, all day long, without feeling the need to punch the throttle. The 5.7L V8 makes most of its torque below 3600 rpm, so when you do decide to pass, acceleration is impressive. The 5.7-liter is Toyota's newest truck engine, so it is ULEV-II compliant. It's designed with four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust. The internals are made with high-strength materials, and a low-friction valve train is employed for better efficiency. Consistent with the internal component quality is the exhaust, which is made from stainless steel and has four catalytic converters: two for cold starts and two main.
We've driven the standard 4.7L V-8 in the past, and it's no slouch, but the 5.7L shows how far engine technology has progressed at Toyota in just a few years. It's revealing that the bigger, cleaner, more powerful 5.7 V8 also gets better mileage.
To be fair, a good part of the mileage improvement is due to the six-speed electronically controlled transmission that comes with the optional 5.7L engine. Like the standard five-speed automatic, it's controlled by a shifter that allows sequential shifting, and has a lock-up torque converter for better towing efficiency and heat control. With the six-speed, there is a Tow/Haul mode that changes the shift points for heavy loads and long, uphill grades.
Just like the Tundra, the Sequoia has a two-speed transfer case with 2.6:1 low range. We found Low range easy to get in and out of, even on ground that was not perfectly level. And enhanced gearing seemed low enough, given the 275/65 tires, that the Sequoia could crawl at speeds low enough to slog up very steep terrain. Also like the Tundra, the front and rear differentials are larger than previous versions of this platform. The lowest available gear set is 4.3:1, which comes with the towing package.
The new Sequoia has the towing capabilities of a 3/4-ton pickup. It can tow up to 10,000 pounds, compared to 6500 pounds for the previous model. A seven-pin connector and a standard four-pin connector are set up and ready to use, and there is a pre-wired brake controller connector under the dash, similar to the Tundra. The Max Gross Combined Weight Rating, the total permissible weight of vehicle and trailer, is now 16,000 pounds.
The brakes are also consistent with the 3/4-ton capability. Very large discs are mounted on all four corners. In use, the brakes feel reasonably gradual, with some forgiveness at the top of the pedal and very strong response as foot pressure is increased.
The brakes are enhanced by ABS (an anti-lock brake system) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), the latter of which keeps all four brakes accurately proportioned if road surfaces get slippery, assuring straighter stops and better control. There is also electronic Brake Assist, which reduces stopping distances in panic situations. These are all useful and necessary features for a modern SUV, particularly one that might be towing a boat or RV.
We still have a hard time trusting laser cruise control, but after a day in the new Sequoia it's getting easier. We suspect dynamic cruise control is one of those features that we'll all rely on before the decade is out. We switched it on and watched it work, carefully, and, sure enough, it sensed vehicles as we came up on them, slowed appropriately, and maintained the distance we selected. Then, when the lane opened, it slowly resumed speed. It's not really intended for use on a crowded highway, but would be great on roads with just the occasional car.
In daily use round town, the Sequoia will seem big to those not accustomed to maneuvering full-size domestic iron. We notice that, like any full-size, the hood is long and tall, and the distance to the rear bumper is not easily estimated without practice. However, Toyota's front and rear parking sensors go a long way toward making the best of the need to fit a big SUV into an average parking space by providing audible warnings when maneuvering in close quarters.
Even better is the available rearview camera that displays a video image of what's behind you on the navigation screen. We recommend getting this feature for its safety benefits. A rearview camera, in addition to the audible warnings, can help alert the driver to a child behind the vehicle, for example.
Steering is fingertip-easy around town. Turning radius is just 19 feet. It avoids being boat-like by a variable system that adds more return-to-center and a firmer, more precise level of control as speeds increase. At higher speeds, we felt the Sequoia was easy to keep in-lane without undue attention. While this family SUV is not built to be a cornering machine on country roads, control is easily good enough for confident handling. The steering column actually has a floating shaft that keeps noise and vibration from coming through to the wheel.
On a vehicle this big, things like power windows and doors are more than just luxury options; they become necessities. It's a long reach across the cabin, and a long walk to open the tailgate in the rain. The power rear hatch can be opened using the remote fob, handy when approaching the vehicle in a downpour with a load of groceries.
|The all-new 2008 Toyota Sequoia is built in America to satisfy North American conditions: big roads, big loads, and wide open spaces. There is ample power in reserve for towing and hauling, and a roomy, comfy interior. There are so many small, thoughtful touches, we get the sense that the Sequoia is one of those SUVs an owner would grow to appreciate more and more as time goes on. If you require capability on a full-size scale, and you'd appreciate roomy, comfortable surroundings, the 2008 Toyota Sequoia should be on your short list.|