Full 2008 Toyota Sequoia Review
What's New for 2008
Toyota's large SUV is completely redesigned. The 2008 Toyota Sequoia is significantly larger than last year's model and boasts a powerful 5.7-liter V8 and a fold-flat third-row seat. A new high-line Platinum trim level brings Lexus-like luxury to the Sequoia lineup.
When it comes to full-size SUV ownership, well, you really have to want it these days. Driving a large and imposing vehicle isn't as much of an image enhancement as it was a decade ago, and depending on where you live, spending $70 to fill the tank is a distinct possibility. That said, the current population of large, truck-based sport-utilities is as impressive as it has ever been. Incremental improvements in driving dynamics and interior packaging have made these heavyweights quite easy to live with on a daily basis. For families who can justify a vehicle of such size and capability, the 2008 Toyota Sequoia is worth special consideration in this field. It's completely redesigned this year, and in addition to being larger and roomier than before, it sets new standards for performance, road manners and seating flexibility.
This transformation was made possible by the Sequoia's move to the current Tundra platform. Toyota's full-size sport-utility has grown longer and wider, and this is most evident inside the cabin. The second-row seats, which come in the form of a 40/20/40 bench or captain's chairs, offer a large range of fore/aft adjustment, allowing passengers to divvy up the available legroom. For now, the Sequoia is the only large SUV to offer this convenience, which should give it considerable appeal for growing families. Unlike its pickup truck relative, the Sequoia has an independent rear suspension, and this enabled Toyota to package in the all-important fold-flat third-row seat. This rearmost seat has a convenient 60/40 split, and with the second-row seats folded flat as well, this full-size SUV offers an impressive 120 cubic feet of cargo space.
Although last year's 4.7-liter V8 returns as the base engine, most 2008 Toyota Sequoias will be sold with the new 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8, which pairs up with a sharp-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Thusly equipped, the Sequoia is easily the quickest of the large SUVs. It rides well, too. The precisely tuned chassis strikes a near perfect balance between highway comfort and back-road agility, while a relatively tight 39-foot turning circle makes the big truck easy to guide through parking lots. Available rear air springs help level out your load during heavier towing and hauling tasks, while Toyota's optional Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) provides a level of ride composure formerly associated with luxury sport-utilities.
Buying a full-size SUV is not something families should take lightly, as large crossovers offer almost as much people- and cargo-hauling abilities while getting better fuel economy. However, for those whose situations necessitate one, the 2008 Toyota Sequoia is a strong candidate. You should certainly try the solidly qualified Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon twins and Ford Expedition as well, but when it comes to passenger accommodations, acceleration and handling dynamics, the redesigned Sequoia is tough to beat.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Toyota Sequoia is a full-size SUV that seats seven or eight, depending on the configuration. There are three trim levels -- SR5, Limited and Platinum -- each of which is available with two- or four-wheel drive.
Base SR5 models have 18-inch alloy wheels, full body-color exterior trim, a 40/20/40 second-row bench seat, triple-zone automatic climate control, a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and full power accessories. The Limited adds running boards, leather upholstery, power front seats, upgraded instrumentation, an upgraded JBL sound system, Bluetooth and heated mirrors. The ritzy Sequoia Platinum sizes up to 20-inch wheels while adding load-leveling rear air springs, the AVS adaptive shock absorbers, a power liftgate, a sunroof, heated/cooled front seats, second-row captain's chairs (dropping capacity to seven), a navigation system/back-up camera combo and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Leather upholstery and JBL sound are optional on the SR5, while the rear air springs, sunroof and nav system are available on both the SR5 and Limited. Towing preparation and a rear entertainment system are optional across the board. Adaptive cruise control is an exclusive option on the Platinum.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on the Sequoia SR5 is last year's 4.7-liter V8, which is rated at 276 horsepower and 314 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with this engine. Optional on the SR5 and standard on all other Sequoias is a 5.7-liter V8 good for 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. The bigger V8 takes a six-speed automatic. Toyota says a 2WD Sequoia with the 5.7-liter V8 will hit 60 mph in an impressive 6.7 seconds. Properly equipped, this SUV can tow up to 10,000 pounds. The Sequoia is typical for this segment of vehicle in that it's available with four-wheel drive. An unusual feature, however, is that, like past Sequoias, drivers can lock the center differential in both 4 Hi and 4 Lo, thereby providing greater flexibility when driving in snowy conditions.
In terms of fuel economy, the 2008 Toyota Sequoia has a slight edge over most rivals. The 5.7-liter is actually the more efficient option, thanks to its dual variable valve timing (the 4.7-liter only has variable intake valves) and the more efficient six-speed. A 2WD Sequoia 5.7 rates 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway, while a 4x4 rates 13/18 mpg. With the 4.7-liter, you're looking at 14/17 (2WD) and 13/16 (4WD).
Every 2008 Sequoia comes with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and three-row side curtain airbags. Front and rear parking sensors are standard on the Sequoia Platinum and Limited, and optional on the SR5. A back-up camera is also included on the Platinum and optional on the SR5 and Limited. In Sequoias with a second-row bench, upper and lower anchor points for car-seat installation are provided in all three seating positions. In the third row, the center position has an upper anchor point.
Interior Design and Special Features
There's only one significant shortcoming in the 2008 Toyota Sequoia's cabin: It has the same impossible-to-reach audio and navigation controls as the Tundra pickup. Otherwise, this interior is a triumph of ergonomics, storage bins and family-friendly conveniences. You'll find a minimum of 16 cupholders in every Sequoia.
Not only do the second-row seats adjust fore/aft regardless of whether your Sequoia has the bench or the captain's chairs, the seats will lock down into no fewer than 10 detents. This allows you to get pretty specific about the amount of legroom allotted to each of the rear rows. In addition, the bench seat's center "20" section slides farther forward to provide easier access to a baby. There's also a conversation mirror so you can monitor potential hostilities in the third row. The 60/40 third-row seat in Limited and Platinum models has both a power recline and a power fold feature.
Luggage capacity behind the third row measures 19 cubic feet. With that seat folded, there are nearly 67 cubic feet. With both rear rows folded down, the Sequoia tops out at 121 cubic feet.
Even if you don't ordinarily like large SUVs, the 2008 Toyota Sequoia will chip away at your resolve, as the driving experience is quite pleasant. With the 5.7-liter V8 underhood, low-end torque is abundant, and passing maneuvers come and go in an instant. Plus, the six-speed automatic is always on its game with gear selection, even when towing. Ride comfort ranges from smooth and composed in an SR5 model with optional air springs to downright plush in a Sequoia Platinum with the adaptive suspension. Around corners, the suspension does a fine job of managing 3 tons' worth of SUV. The steering is well-weighted and precise, but doesn't quite provide the feedback of GM's Tahoe/Yukon twins.