The Toyota Sequoia is among the best of the full-size SUVs. It's about the same size as a Ford Expedition, slightly larger than a Chevy Tahoe. Like most Toyotas, it's very well engineered and offers the highest levels of quality, durability, and reliability. It's quiet and comfortable.
The Sequoia is a great family vehicle, a modern replacement for the traditional American station wagon, with three rows of seats capable of carrying eight passengers.
Piloting the 2002 Toyota Sequoia on the open road is a pleasure. We loved the smooth and powerful V8 engine. It's a marvel of a power plant, and this truck needs all of its 240 horsepower. The transmission, too, was seamless in operation. With such a long wheelbase and overall heft, the Sequoia delivers a comfortable ride on all types of road conditions. While our Limited model was almost as luxurious as a Lexus, it wasn't nearly as quiet. Wind noise at highway speeds wasn't obtrusive, but the cabin wasn't as hushed as Lexus LS 430 sedan we recently drove.
But all of this luxury and comfort come with a price: The Sequoia is an absolute pig at the gas pump. EPA says to expect only 14 mpg in city driving and a paltry 17 mpg on the highway.
Braking, while never nerve rattling, takes a little getting used to. Stopping a vehicle the size of a Sequoia takes planning ahead, and you shouldn't wait until the last minute to apply pressure to the pedal. Technically, the brakes work fine (and ABS is standard); just don't forget that you're not driving a lithe sports car.
The Sequoia is not, however, a joy to get in and out of. Although the Limited model comes with side running boards (optional on the SR5) and grab handles mounted inside of the doorframes, you must be prepared to lift yourself up and into this vehicle. In contrast, a regular car allows you to literally drop into the seat. A big beast like the Sequoia requires some physical dexterity and for its occupants to be unafraid of heights: A commanding view of the passing scenery is guaranteed from every seat.
As you'd imagine from a vehicle of this size, the Sequoia is not an easy barge to park. Parallel parking this hulk in downtown Austin, Texas, proved to be a humbling experience.
The Sequoia is a champ if you have to transport lots of kids to and fro on a regular basis. We say "kids" because they're the only ones with the agility to hop over the middle-row to get to the three-person rear seats. Asking full-sized adults to crawl back there will likely cost you a few friends.
There are two controls to activate the optional four-wheel drive system. The first is a simple button, located fairly low in the center of the dashboard. Punching it will put the vehicle in four-wheel high, which is good for driving on snowy or slippery roads. Engaging this extra traction can be done on the fly without having to stop the vehicle. You'll also find a traditional-looking shift lever located between the front seats to activate four-wheel low; also known as the creeper gear, this is only for more extreme off-road use, such as descending a very steep hill.
Speaking of steep hills, the Sequoia's active traction control, called A-TRAC, which comes standard on four-wheel-drive models, made it easy for us to drive straight up a set of moguls on a dry, gravel-covered ski slope at Big Sky, Montana. Instead of modulating the throttle, we simply held the gas down, and it walked right up the hill, transferring torque to the tires with the best grip. Drop it into the low range, and the system automatically locks the center differential for go-anywhere traction capability. Two-wheel-drive Sequoias also come standard with traction control, though, obviously, they won't offer the mogul-climbing abilities of the four-wheel-drive models.
The skid-control feature, which comes standard, helps the Sequoia maintain stability should the vehicle lose traction and begin to slid sideways. Like other electronic stability programs, it selectively applies braking force to individual wheels to stop a skid, and it can really help you avoid an accident.
A two-wheel-drive Sequoia is rated to tow up to a 6500-pound trailer, while a 4x4 is rated to pull a 6200-pound trailer.
Is the 2002 Toyota Sequoia the ultimate family vehicle? Look at the score sheet and you'll find that it has seating for up to eight (or five and have LOTS of room to bring the dogs); Toyota's legendary reliability; a smooth, comfortable ride; towing capacity for a 6200-pound trailer; and lots of safety equipment, including traction- and skid-control, available front side- and head-level airbags, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, available on-demand four-wheel drive, and the secure feeling that comes with driving a vehicle that weighs more than 5,000 pounds.
Even though family life implies a certain amount of restraint and sacrifice to not follow what's trendy, most of the young families I know would still rather die than be seen driving a minivan (despite the fact that most minivans ride and handle better, sip less fuel, and cost less than many SUVs - - especially those that offer third-row seating).
Overall, though, the Sequoia is a marvelous truck. Perhaps not the best day-to-day family taxi in congested, urban areas, but certainly unbeatable for family road trips.