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Toyota Sequoia is among the best of the full-size SUVs. It's nearly the same size as a Ford Expedition, and slightly larger than a Chevy Tahoe. Like most Toyotas, it's very well engineered and offers high levels of build and finish quality, and Toyota offers some of the highest customer satisfaction and long-term reliability ratings in the auto industry. The Sequoia is every inch a truck, but it's very comfortable and relatively quiet.
The Sequoia is a good vehicle for large families, particularly for those who pull trailers. It offers three rows of seats capable of carrying eight passengers. Though big, it's surprisingly maneuverable. It's great for towing.
All models are well equipped, and Toyota has enhanced value for 2004 by adding equipment without raising the base price. The less expensive SR-5 model adds standard dual-zone front and rear climate control and power front seats. The high-trim Sequoia Limited now comes standard with a power moonroof.
If the space, towing capacity and off-road capability of a truck-based, full-size sport-utility are what you need, the Toyota Sequoia is hard to beat.
Piloting the Toyota Sequoia on the open road is a pleasure. We love the powerful V8 engine. It's a marvel of a smoothness and efficiency, with an ultra-low (ULEV) emissions rating. The transmission, too, was impressively smooth, responsive and seamless in operation. With such a long wheelbase and significant overall heft, the Sequoia delivers a comfortable ride on all types of roads, even with its heavy-duty, truck-style solid rear axle.
Sequoia weighs in at a substantial 5300 pounds, and it needs all of the V8's horsepower and 315 pounds-feet of acceleration producing torque. Get-up-and-go is better than adequate in all circumstances, and the Sequoia will cruise comfortably at speeds much higher than the state troopers advise. Yet if towing is a priority, Sequoia comes up just a little short. Its engine has more power and torque than the standard V8 in either the Ford Expedition or Chevy Tahoe, but both of those big SUVs offer more powerful engines optional. Nissan's new Pathfinder Armada tops the class with its standard engine. As a result, all three competitors are rated for heavier towing loads than the Sequoia (a maximum 6200 pounds with four-wheel drive).
While our Sequoia Limited was impressively smooth and almost as luxurious as a Lexus, it wasn't quite as quiet. Wind noise at highway speed wasn't obtrusive, but the cabin wasn't as hushed as a Lexus LS 430 sedan. Of course, we didn't expect it to be, and compared to its big SUV competitors, the Sequoia ranks high at limiting the amount of undesirable noise inside.
The big, ventilated disc brakes work very well. They come with electronic Brake Assist, which detects panic stops and increases brake pressure automatically to help reduce stopping distances. This system works so well, that we feel compelled to offer a word of caution. The overall refinement of Sequoia's ride, handling and braking might allow a driver to loose track of how big this vehicle is, and how much mass and momentum that must be overcome to turn or stop it.
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. Pressing it will put the vehicle in 4 Hi, good for driving on snow-covered roads or muddy terrain. It can be engaged on the fly without having to stop the vehicle. A traditional-looking shift lever between the front seats activates 4 Lo, a creeper gear used for extreme off-road use, such as descending a very steep hill.
Speaking of steep hills, Sequoia's active four-wheel traction control (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 the Sequoia walked right up the hill, transferring power to the tires with the best grip and limiting power whenever wheelspin was detected. Drop it into 4 Lo, and the system automatically locks the center differential for go-anywhere capability. Two-wheel-drive Sequoias come standard with rear-wheel traction control, though, obviously, they won't offer the mogul-climbing abilities of the four-wheel-drive models.
Electronic stability control, which comes standard, helps the Sequoia maintain stability should it lose traction and begin to slid sideways. This electronic stability program selectively applies braking force to individual wheels to stop a skid, and it can really help you avoid an accident.
All in all, this big SUV is very drivable, exceptionally comfortable and luxurious. Of course, Sequoia's luxury and comfort come with a price at the gas pump. The EPA says to expect only 14 mpg in city driving and a paltry 17 mpg on the highway. The 2WD versions up the highway figure to 18 mpg. And as you'd imagine from a vehicle of this size, with a large turning radius, the Sequoia is not easy to park. Parallel pa
Toyota Sequoia has seating for up to eight (or five and lots of room to bring the dogs). It delivers a smooth, comfortable ride. It comes with lots of safety equipment, including traction and skid control, available front side-impact 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.
The Sequoia's strengths versus its full-size competition include its overall smoothness, outstanding build quality and finish, impressive interior accommodations and space. Its weaknesses are few, confined to the lack of an optional engine and lower towing capacity. It can pull a 6200-pound trailer.
Overall, the Sequoia is a marvelous truck. It's not the best family taxi for daily use in congested, urban areas, but it's unbeatable for family road trips.