2008 Toyota Sequoia First Drive

Size matters. Texans like their trucks and SUVs big, they like them powerful, and they like them tough. But, make no mistake; they also want luxury, comfort, and functionality.


A Texas family demands a lot from a full-size SUV, whether taking the kids and their friends to Friday night football, hauling a sports car for a track weekend at Texas World Speedway, or pulling a ski or bass boat out of the water at Lake Travis. They need a SUV that has enough power and size to get the job done, and it better make them comfortable while doing it.

The Toyota Sequoia is completely new for 2008, from the chassis to the body to the interior. Can it handle the varied needs we’ve already touched on above? Join us as we get our hands on the 2008 Sequoia for a first drive and find out if it is big enough and strong enough for Texas and the rest of the U.S.

Exterior Styling
At first glance, it is obvious that the 2008 Toyota Sequoia is flexing its muscles to push its way even further into the world of full size SUVs. From its clean modern front end, to its high belt line, to the wraparound rear tail lights, the Sequoia no longer looks like an enlarged 4Runner. Instead, it has a tough, yet classy, design that looks just as good pulling up at the country club as it does pulling a load.

One of the features that we most like on the Sequoia is the tailgate window that fully powers down, allowing for quick access to items in the cargo area, room for an extra long board after a trip to the hardware store, or just for a nice open feeling on a sunny day.

The 2008 Sequoia is only about an inch longer than the previous generation, but don’t let that fool you; the wheelbase is almost 4 inches longer, which translates not only into a smoother ride but also into more room for the interior.

Interior Styling
That interior room is most evident in the third row seat. Make no mistake; this is not a ‘third row seat’ in name only, suitable only for small children. The Sequoia’s third row seat can hold adults comfortably, with plenty of head and leg room. It is in a split 60/40 layout, and is fully powered going down and up, storing in a completely flat position for extra cargo capacity if needed.

Not only were we impressed by the amount of third row seat room, we were also impressed with the attention Toyota paid to ingress and egress. The rear doors of the 2008 Sequoia open almost to a full 90 degrees from the car. This coupled with the large third row seat and a sliding second row seat means you don’t have to be a contortionist to climb into the Sequoia.

An available navigation system, backup camera, MP3 ports, Bluetooth- and XM-radio-capable JBL audio system, and rear seat DVD entertainment system with 9” screen also make long family outings a pleasure.


You can also watch the 2008 Toyota Sequoia Video on YouTube.


People FEEL safer when they get behind the wheel of a huge SUV, but the Sequoia makes this feeling a reality with its safety features. In addition to the standard front airbags, the Sequoia has standard side airbags in the front, side curtain airbags for all three rows (yes, even for the third row) , and roll-sensing curtain airbags that deploy in the unlikely event of a rollover. A variety of electronic systems help the driver keep the Sequoia under control at all times.

Powertrain & Performance
The 2008 Sequoia offers two engine choices: big, and bigger. The standard 4.7 liter i-Force V8 provides 275 hp at 5,400 rpm and 314 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm. Respectable, but we were impressed with the 381 hp, 401 lb-ft of torque, and 6-second 0-60 mph time of the 5.7 liter top-of-the-line V8.

Either engine is fully capable of handling the Sequoia’s 10,000 lb. maximum towing capacity, and 13.9 inch/13.6 inch front/rear disc brakes help keep all that power under control.

We were amazed by the turning radius of the Sequoia. Usually when we test full-size SUVs or trucks, we are accustomed to the typical forward back forward back dance when parking or making a U turn. We don’t know how the Sequoia’s engineers managed a 39 foot turning circle, but we salute them.

Although the Sequoia is built on a fully-boxed truck frame (great for strength and towing capacity), it has a very smooth, quiet, and comfortable ride.


Driving Impressions

A lot of manufacturers seem to have forgotten about the most important person in the vehicle–the drive–but Toyota hasn’t. It is very clear when you get behind the wheel of the 2008 Sequoia that you are in control. The driver’s area of the dash is distinguished from the rest of the dash with a different finish, and all controls that have to do with actually driving (as opposed to being entertained by the radio or heated/cooled by the a/c system) lie in this area within easy reach of the driver.

The Sequoia has a commanding presence on the road, and although we don’t recommend doing such things often, the 5.7-liter engine in our test Sequoia gave us the confidence and power to pull out and pass a slow-moving Farmer Ted even when we were towing a 6000 lb. boat!

Although full-size SUVs, like the Sequoia, spend 95% or more of their time on-road, be assured that if the need arises, the optional 4WD in the Sequoia with low gear range and center differential lock is ready for off-road duty.

It takes a lot to impress this Texan in a land of Suburbans, Excursions, and quad cab long bed dually trucks (if you’re from the North and don’t know what that last one is, don’t worry–you’ll know it if you see it; just hide the wife and children, close your eyes, let it pass by, and everything will be fine) but the 2008 Toyota Sequoia excelled in every area in which we tested it. Comfortable on-road, capable off-road, powerful when towing, precise at handling, spacious, and spirited–the Sequoia can do it all.

It is American-made with Japanese quality and has a world-class blend of style, safety, power, and true utility.

We didn’t want to give our test model back; if Toyota calls, tell them we’re busy tailgating with it at the Cowboys game.

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