Let this serve as notice that the Detroit Three are not unique in their propensity for bad timing. Toyota fails here, too. The long-awaited, long-overdue real full-size Tundra pickup launched just as the housing market was putting the kibosh on full-size pickup sales. The Sequoia launches a year later, having been developed when full-size, truck-based SUV sales were beginning to slide from 800,000 per year to 500,000 per year (Toyota's numbers).
If you think of Toyota as being smug, though (an image that the Prius and its owners foster), well, then the World's Most Fantastic Number One automaker can continue to be smug. The Tundra is meeting Toyota's conservative sales projections. Toyota says it hopes the new Sequoia can claw its way back to a peak of about 65,000 sales per year, roughly twice calendar year '06 numbers, and that seems reasonable, even in the current market.
Like Tundra, Sequoia is vastly improved and should grab a larger share of its shrinking segment. Tundra's aluminum 5.7-liter V-8 is optional on SR5 and Limited and standard on the new Lexus-like Platinum. The old 4.7 iron block remains the base engine until a new smaller V-8 derivative of the 5.7 is ready.
Tundra's familiar dash makes it into the Sequoia, but the horse-collar grille is toned down a bit, as if to say, "I'm not really so massive." The dash is still disappointing in its plastic-ness, and looks better in photos than in the flesh. But the days of making an SUV by slapping a station wagon body onto a pickup truck are long gone, and here, Toyota doesn't disappoint. The Sequoia gets an independent rear suspension, replacing the old Sequoia's live rear axle, and re-tuned steering. The steering is "for females," and that's according to chief engineer Motoharu Araya, so direct your emails about male chauvinism elsewhere. Toyota boasts a 39-foot turning diameter, which happens to equal that of the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon.