2009 Toyota Sequoia
As Right For Our Times As A Trebuchet

We Like: Quiet comfort and prodigious poke.
We Don't Like: No automatic 4WD mode, busy overwrought dash.

Toyota has finally nailed this full-size-truck thing, just as the potential buyers are craigslisting their Cigarette boats, Boston Whalers, and Airstream campers. Surging gas-prices mean fewer folks can afford to fuel these toys, much less drag them around behind three-ton, mountain-climbing, isolation-tanks that can run the 60-mph dash in 6.7 seconds. Complicating things is the fact that the company dares not advertise this mega-guzzler much for fear of eroding its moral hybrid high ground. So the Sequoia's "Significance" score suffers in today's automotive climate.

You may wonder about its "Value" score, too, given the eye-watering $59K price of our all-singing, all-dancing Platinum edition. Show some restraint on the order sheet and a reasonable $39,245 buys equal or better functionality in an SR5 with the same brawny 5.7-liter V-8/six-speed automatic combo, a 9600-pound tow rating (10,000 with RWD), and the same multimode 4WD system with locking center differential and advanced traction control.

Introduced in mid-2008, the Tundra-based Sequoia is sized to fit between the long and short full-size 'utes from Chevy and Ford. It boasts savvy packaging for up to eight, a choice of two smooth powerful V-8s, four-wheel independent suspension, and tempting extras like power-folding 60/40 split third-row seats, an air-assist suspension, and electronic shocks. These assets plus superior track performance helped Sequoia win an April comparison against the Tahoe, Expedition, and Nissan Armada. And in our trials for this exercise, the big Toyota acquits itself reasonably well, demonstrating terrific capability off road, and providing better ride comfort than the Lexus on rough pavement with reasonable body-motion control in the twisties, though many criticized its too-light steering.

St. Antoine describes driving this leather-lined, hot-rod heavy-hauler as "a decidedly guilty pleasure," but notes that even among these mastodons it may no longer be king of the hill. The Tahoe's dash is better looking and more ergonomic, and for 2009 it's nicer to drive, with more power, a six-speed automatic, and of course, a hybrid model that can still tow 6200 pounds. And that's a full-size SUV that can be advertised.
- Frank Markus


2009 Toyota Sequoia
Base price range $34,895-$56,345
Price as tested $59,115
Vehicle layout Front engine, 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 5.7L/381-hp/401-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 6134 lb (51/49%)
Wheelbase 122.0 in
Length x width x height 205.1 x 79.9 x 74.6 in
0-60 mph 6.7 sec
Quarter mile 15.2 sec @ 91.7 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 135 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.72 g (avg)
MT figure eight 29.3 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 13/18 mpg (est)
MT observed fuel econ 12.8 mpg
CO2 emmisions 1.31 lb/mile
RATINGS
Engineering ****
Design ****
Interior/functionality ****
Performance *****
On-road refinement ****
Off-road ability *****
Value ***
BOTTOM LINE
A terrific choice for those hauling king-size families, loads, or trailers.