Review Toyota Sequoia: Can best of ‘old school’ SUV still compete in a new school world?

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Many people have lost sight of what an SUV is truly built for – towing and cargo. I don’t mean pulling a 1,500-lbs rental trailer for occasional errands; I’m talking about serious towing. Any SUV that can tow over 9,000-lbs is serious.

Our tester has a friggin’ beefy 5.7-liter V8 that makes 381 hp and (get this) 401 lbs-feet of torque. This is the best engine I have experienced in a vehicle this size – ever. Even at well over 5,200 feet elevation, I got consistent 0 to 60 mph times of under seven-seconds. That’s impressive.

Unlike a majority of modern unibody crossovers, the Sequoia has a proper frame underneath. Normally, having a frame means the vehicle you’re driving plods, wanders and/or handles poorly. Not true for the Sequoia. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is one of the best handling of the large, seven+ passenger SUV class (that includes the Chevrolet Tahoe, Nissan Armada, Ford Expedition and Jeep Commander).

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Interior materials are good, but I had a bit of an issue with the instrument binnacle as all of the components are contained in a thick, grayish panel that looks down-market. The driver’s seat is comfortable and cushy. However, if you are long in torso, the seat does not lower quite enough. At nearly 6’2” I was longing for a lower seat to ease head-smacking during ingress.

Many people are on the fence about its exterior appearance. I like the look and feel despite the similarities to its platform-cousin the Toyota Tundra. The 2010 Toyota Sequoia makes the look more balanced. I must admit, however, that the rear end makes this SUV look even larger than it truly is.

Other than these gripes, the 2010 Toyota Sequoia is the bee’s knees.

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During spirited dirt-road/icy/slushy driving, the Sequoia was remarkably stable. It was like driving a Pachyderm on a toboggan. You tell it to turn, it digs in, leans and makes the turn with less fuss than most would expect. I pushed it WAY beyond what a regular driver would and it still handled predictably and competently. Part of this reliable driving experience came from the stiff platform and the rest came from a traction control system that wasn’t putting up with my crap – no matter how juvenile my antics.

I went fishing with a friend in the smaller Sequoia with a 310 hp, 327 lb-ft of torque, 4.6-liter V8. It was a bit slower, but on some serious off-road trails, we had no problem keeping up with some friends in a Nissan Xterra (which is one of the top off-road SUVs out there). Articulation is poor and on loose mud/sand the 5,700 lbs bulk of the Sequoia bogged us down. Still, with its simple transfer case locked in 4WD Low, we pulled out of every bog out there. No crossover can hope to repeat that kind of performance.

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The other day, when the wind was blowing something fierce, I put my two kids in the middle seat and I went into the third row comfortably. It was a good day for the park and I promised the rug-rats some outdoor time. We waited out the freezing wind by sleeping comfortably in the Sequoia. It was as quiet as a tomb and I was easily able to get comfy in the third-row – impressive.

Yes, it’s a big, fat honkin’ SUV, but it handles as good as many large crossovers. We made a video pitting the Sequoia against a GMC Arcadia and it was no surprise that the crossover handled better. What surprised me was the gap was not as great as one would think. Steering feel is light, but weight build up is progressive. Body lean is noticeable, but once again, very close to many car-based crossovers. Breaks and suspension are well top notch while overall responsiveness is acceptable.

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There is a bit of a learning curve for parking as the front end is massive and this vehicle has a bulkier feel than many competitors. It’s tricky to get tight parking right the first time and without the visual/audio parking aid – I would have nailed a few obstacles. Fortunately, slow-speed maneuverability is good. Better still, the highway ride is easily best in class. When loaded with a few hundred lbs of humans, it gets even better.

Fuel economy is not great, but it is competitive at about 15 mpg combined – which is close to Toyota’s official numbers. Speaking of numbers, the Sequoia bridges the gap from reasonable to full-blown sticker shocker. Base pricing starts at a hair under $40,000 and can surpass 60-large for a fully decked out, top-of-the-line 4X4 Toyota Sequoia. That’s a lot of green for an SUV in this class.

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This vehicle is not for everyone and is not quite as competent as a daily driver as many large crossovers are. Still, if you own horses, have a big brood, tow lots of things and want a vehicle that has one of the sweetest engines in its class – take a look at the 2010 Toyota Sequoia.

The Good:

• Serious power
• Comfortable
• Handles better than most competitors
• Tons of space

The Not so Good:

• Thirsty
• Driver’s seating position is almost too high
• Hard to park
• Can get expensive

On the TFLcar recommendation scale of:

Buy it

– Lease it

– Rent it or

– Forget it

I give the Toyota Sequoia a:



Nathan Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his page HERE.


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