By Jim Bray
They dont call this a Sequoia for nothing. Like the famous Redwood,
the big Toyota is grand and stately. Its full in size and features, but
surprisingly nimble for a vehicle thats nearly large enough to house
a government ministry.
Well, maybe nimble isnt the best word, but despite its mass this is
no land barge.
So the rather immense Sequioa is still quite nice to drive and at the same
time manages to come off as fairly subtle compared to other brute utes such
as the Hummer H2. Neither are really my kind of wheels, but I can certainly
see why people buy them.
And it appears that quite ordinary people buy vehicles such as these, as I
witnessed when a woman in a Sequoia identical to my Phantom Grey Pearl test
vehicle pulled into a parking space behind me at a shopping mall. Shed
only had her Sequoia for a short while and was still getting used to it, especially
parking it, but she said she absolutely loved it. Her other car, she said,
is a Prius, so I guess shes breaking even.
Anyway, the Sequoia is not only big, its powerful and stable and proved
to be a wonderful beast to have when winter hit our town. In one swell foop
the Sequoia went from being a gigantic cruiser to a serene and secure place
to tackle the icy roads. This, despite Newtons First Law of Motion.
Toyota says that for 2005 Sequoia has more power, more toys and more safety
stuff than the previous version. Its 4.7 litre V8 now features Toyotas
intelligent variable valve timing (VVT-i) and there are now 282 horses under
the hood (which must be awfully crowded) that prance at a reasonable 5400 rpm.
Better still, you get 325 lb-ft of torque, and the combination of the two specs
mean this monster picks up and gets out of Dodge about as quickly as you could
need from a vehicle such as this. Its kind of like being in the wheelhouse
of the Queen Mary when the solid rocket boosters kick in.
Between the powerplant, a new 5-speed electronically controlled (ECT) automatic
transmission and multimode 4WD that lets you shift between rear and four wheel
drive on the go, you have a capable handler as long as you keep in mind that
abovementioned Law of Motion.
Sequoia also has excellent ground clearance for driving off road or, in the
case of winter, through snow banks. Alas, this also contributes to a very large
step up to the running board, and if it hadnt been for the running boards
I would have needed a step ladder or a block and tackle to get in.
Then theres that Toyota feel. Now, I havent driven a new Toyota
for a while, but Ive been following the marque for years and their products
have traditionally had a really solid feel and the company is well known for
quality and durability. And the ones Ive owned over the years have all
acquitted themselves most admirably.
Consequently, this Sequoia SR5 feels as solid as a tank. Based on the Tundra
full size truck, it's a truly heavy duty machine, as you can tell by a quick
trip down the spec sheet. It comes with a heavy duty battery, starter, alternator
and heater, a 2 speed transfer case, active traction control, an automatically
disconnecting differential and protective plates for the fuel tank and transfer
case. This is a vehicle thats ready to go anywhere, anytime as long as
you can afford the gas (Its Transport Canada rated at 18 mpg city and
23 highway, which are undoubtedly best case scenarios).
The big SUV is comfortable for five, but seats eight without fuss. The third
rows a tad tight but would work okay for kids, and getting in and out
are fairly easy thanks to the way the second row passenger side seat flips
forward to permit the climb.
The front captains chairs, especially the drivers, is a very comfortable
place to spend some time. The powered, leather seats fit nicely and come with
bun warmers, though their controls are placed a little far away from the driver,
on the centre console. You have about all the comforts and gadgets you could
want, including power everything, a leather wrapped steering wheel, auto dimming
rear view mirror and heated and powered side mirrors.
The JBL stereo sounds pretty good, though you only get a single disc CD player,
which seems kind of chintzy in a $60,000 (Canadian) vehicle. On the other hand,
you get steering wheel-mounted controls as well as a pair of wireless headphones
and some rudimentary audio controls in the middle seats which could help keep
the kids alive to travel again if Mom and Dad have had enough of Are
we there yet?.
Controls are logically laid out and easy to reach; driving the Sequoia is
basically a no brainer and I imagine its a treat to take off road as
well. Front passengers can enjoy dual side climate control, which my wife and
I really like (since we never agree on anything, especially the optimal temperature)
and you also get a built in garage door opener and an anti theft system.
I also liked the large sunroof, which opens and closes at the touch of a button
on the ceiling. It did manage to offer up a kind of clattering noise that could
have been the wind combined with the roof rack, though I didnt notice
it with the sunroof closed. It reminded me of the sound a Huey helicopter makes,
and fortunately I had a copy of Ride of the Valkyries in the CD
player, so it worked out okay.
For 2005 the Sequoia SR5 has added a plethora of TRD (Toyota Racing Development)
sport features as standard equipment, including an adjustable rear air suspension
that adjusts the ride height based on input from load sensors, and a nice set
of 16 in alloy wheels wearing P265/70 tires.
The Sequoias suspension up front is of the double wishbone type. Brakes
are big, power assisted ventilated discs with ABS and other assists, and the
steering is variable power assisted rack and pinion. Steering feels good and
the vehicle stops very well despite its inertia.
And as you might expect, the beast is filled with thoughtful touches such
as more cup holders than you can carry people (ten versus eight), a built in
memo pad on the front centre console and hooks in the rear for keeping groceries
and stuff from sliding around.
Safety features include front and side air bags with side curtain air bags
thrown in for good measure, and all seating positions get three point seat
My test Sequoia SR5 carried a sticker price of $60,790 Canadian (approximately
$38,000 US), including freight and delivery.
If youre looking for a full size SUV and want something that does the
job very well without beating you over the head, and you want to deal with
a manufacturer that has a reputation for quality and reliability, the Sequoia
may be a good place to start your quest. Its no gazelle, but its
a pretty dexterous elephant.
And thats okay.