Full 2010 Toyota Sequoia Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Toyota Sequoia receives a more powerful base V8 as well as front-seat knee airbags and an upgraded standard stereo with Bluetooth and iPod integration. Also, many Sequoia options and packages have either been simplified or eliminated altogether. Note that Toyota did not officially release a 2009 model.
With the push for environmentally friendly cars and the memory of skyrocketing gas prices in 2008 still fresh in many people's minds, some buyers have had misgivings about purchasing a large SUV. Sales in general for this segment have been dismal recently, and even Toyota hasn't been immune. However, it seems there will always be customers with a genuine need for maximal passenger-carrying and towing capabilities. For those buyers, a long look at the 2010 Toyota Sequoia is in order.
Coming off an upsizing redesign in 2008 that provided more room, stronger performance, more composed road manners and greater seating flexibility, the 2010 Sequoia (there was no 2009 model) receives a few tweaks to enhance its appeal. The most prominent change is the new base 4.6-liter V8 engine, which provides more power and slightly better fuel economy than the 4.7-liter V8 it replaces. Returning is the optional 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 that makes the Sequoia one of the quickest full-size SUVs out there. With this engine, a properly equipped Sequoia can tow up to 9,100 pounds.
The Sequoia's well-tuned chassis provides a comfortable highway ride along with adequate back-road agility, while a relatively tight 39-foot turning circle makes the big truck easy to maneuver in parking lots. Growing families will also appreciate the Sequoia's versatile second-row seats, available as either a 40/20/40-split bench or captain's chairs. These seats feature plenty of fore-aft adjustment, allowing them to be positioned to optimize legroom or cargo room as needs dictate. Unlike the Tundra (and GM's full-size SUVs), the Sequoia has an independent rear suspension, which allows the roomy 60/40-split third-row seat to fold flat. Stowing the second- and third-row seats opens up a cavernous 121 cubic feet of cargo space for more serious hauling.
As versatile and capable as the 2010 Toyota Sequoia is, buyers who don't require its massive towing capacity would do well to consider a large crossover like the GMC Acadia (or its Buick Enclave/Chevy Traverse relatives), Ford Flex or Mazda CX-9. These crossovers offer competitive passenger and cargo space with lower price tags, and they handle better and get superior fuel economy to boot. Still, for those who need a heavy-duty, full-size SUV, the 2010 Toyota Sequoia reigns supreme. Even when pitted against the competition that includes the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon twins, the Ford Expedition and the Nissan Armada, the Sequoia prevails thanks to its versatility, strong performance and well-balanced road manners.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Toyota Sequoia is a full-size SUV capable of seating seven or eight, depending on the options selected. There are three trim levels -- SR5, Limited and Platinum -- and all are available with either two- or four-wheel drive. The base SR5 model comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, a sunroof, a 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat, triple-zone automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, full power accessories, a power driver seat, Bluetooth (with audio streaming) and an eight-speaker CD stereo with satellite radio, auxiliary audio and USB audio jacks. The Limited adds 20-inch wheels, running boards, leather upholstery, upgraded instrumentation, a back-up camera integrated into the rearview mirror and an upgraded 14-speaker JBL sound system with a six-CD changer.
The top-of-the-line Sequoia Platinum adds load-leveling rear air springs, adaptive shock absorbers, a power liftgate, a sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row captain's chairs (dropping capacity to seven), power-folding and -reclining rear seats, a navigation system, a back-up camera and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
For 2010, Toyota has simplified Sequoia ordering by eliminating most of the confusing options and packages from previous years. Now, the only available options apply to Limited models, which are eligible for the second-row captain's chairs, navigation system and rear-seat entertainment system from the Platinum edition.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard engine for the 2010 Sequoia SR5 is Toyota's new 4.6-liter V8, which produces 310 hp and 327 pound-feet of torque and comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Compared to last year's 4.7-liter engine, the new mill churns out an additional 34 hp while slightly improving fuel economy. The EPA estimates 14 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg in combined driving for rear-wheel-drive models. 4WD models attain 1 less mpg across the board.
Optional on the Sequoia SR5 and standard on everything else is a muscular 5.7-liter V8 that produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard here as well. Thanks in part to its dual variable valve timing, the larger V8 achieves nearly the same fuel economy as the 4.6-liter engine, at 14/19/15 mpg. Properly equipped, a 5.7-liter Sequoia can tow up to 9,100 pounds.
The Sequoia is available in either two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive versions. Four-wheel-drive models feature low-range gearing. In our testing, a 4WD Sequoia with the 5.7-liter V8 hit 60 mph in an impressive 6.7 seconds.
Standard safety equipment for all 2010 Toyota Sequoias includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags and three-row side curtain airbags. Front and rear parking sensors are standard on the Sequoia Platinum and Limited, as is a back-up camera, but these are unavailable on the SR5. As of this writing, government crash tests have not yet been published for the 2010 model with the new knee airbags, but last year's Sequoia earned five stars (out of five) for the driver and four for the passenger for head-on collision protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Aside from audio and navigation controls that are hard to reach, the Sequoia's interior is a triumph of ergonomics, storage bins and family-friendly conveniences. The second-row seats adjust fore and aft regardless of whether the 40/20/40-split bench or the captain's chairs are specified. In addition, the bench seat's center "20" section slides farther forward, which can be useful if a child safety seat is installed. There's also a conversation mirror so you can quell potential uprisings in the rear quarters. The 60/40 third-row seat in Limited and Platinum models has both a power-recline and a power-fold feature. With both sets of rear seats folded down, the Sequoia's cargo space tops out at 121 cubic feet.
Even if you don't ordinarily like large SUVs, the 2010 Toyota Sequoia's pleasant driving experience might win you over. The 5.7-liter V8's abundance of low-end torque makes passing maneuvers effortless, and the six-speed automatic is always on point with gear selection, even when towing. Even the 4.6-liter V8 is no slouch, particularly if you won't be maxing out your SUV's payload and towing capacities on a regular basis.
Ride comfort ranges from smooth and composed in an SR5 to downright plush in a Sequoia Platinum with the adaptive dampers. Around corners, the suspension does a fine job of managing 3 tons' worth of SUV, though the numb steering adds to the overall sense of heft.