We've heard plenty of rumors about Toyota's new full-size SUV based on the Tundra, but not many hard facts. Now we've got 'em: On sale late this year as a 2001 model, the newest member-to-be of Toyota's truck family blends rugged good looks with V-8 power and luxurious innards to make an SUV that's perfect for buyers who need something larger and more powerful than a 4Runner but can't quite hack the Land Cruiser's heady $50K price point.
Based on the same platform as its MT Truck of the Year award-winning Tundra, Toyota's new Sequoia also will be built at the company's state-of-the-art assembly plant in Princeton, Indiana. Dimensionally, this four-door SUV measures 203.9 inches bumper to bumper and has a 118.1-inch wheelbase. That makes it slightly larger than a Chevy Tahoe but slightly trimmer than a Ford Expedition. Its 11-plus inches of 4x4 ground clearance tops both of those primary foes and should guarantee it easy access over even the most challenging terrain.
Along with standard seating for eight, Toyota claims the Sequoia offers more useable room in the third-row seat and rear cargo area than either the Chevy or Ford. It will also be the first Toyota truck to incorporate curtain-shield side airbags and have three-point seatbelts for all passengers. Other basic creature comforts will include power windows/locks/mirror, air conditioning, and tilt steering column.
While the Tundra's brawny frame with single-piece side rails and eight crossmembers carries over intact, the Sequoia's suspension design has been modified to provide better ride comfort and control. Up front, you'll still find double wishbones; but in the rear, the five-bar link solid axle will be sprung by coils in place of the less-sophisticated leaf units used in the pickup. Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock are also part of the Sequoia standards list.
The sole engine in the new Sequoia will be the same smooth, free-revving 4.7-liter DOHC i-Force V-8 used in the Tundra. Making a stout 240 horses and 315 pound-feet of torque in this application, it will be the first Toyota truck engine to earn Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle status from the EPA. Matched to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission, it will be offered in 4x2 or 4x4 configurations, with Toyota's Vehicle Stability Control system.
Although Toyota provided no pricing specifics, we expect to see a two-wheel-drive Sequoia start around $35,000 with the four-wheel-drive version coming in closer to $40K. We'll bring you a first-drive story as soon as possible.