by Bob Storck

On sale: November 2000
Expected pricing: $33,000+

Toyota is introducing an all-new sport-utility vehicle this fall called the Sequoia. Like the tree, it's big. Toyota designed it to compete with the Ford Expedition, Chevy Tahoe and Dodge Durango. Toyota unveiled the Sequoia at the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and displayed it at this spring's New York International Auto Show.

Sequoia shares platforms with Toyota's recently introduced full-size pickup, the Tundra. It is being built alongside the Tundra at Toyota's plant in Indiana. Sequoia will be the largest, most versatile sport-utility vehicle in Toyota's lineup. Its size and price position it between the compact 4Runner and the premium Land Cruiser. While the Land Cruiser was built with ruggedness and off-road capability with luxury heaped on top, the Sequoia emphasizes roominess and urban comfort, and is priced accordingly.

Sequoia will feature the 4.7-liter i-Force V8 engine that powers Tundra. No V6 model will be available. The V8 engine will produce 240 horsepower and 315 foot-pounds of torque, giving it a towing capacity of more than 6,000 pounds. This places puts it in direct competition with the Big 3 U.S. automakers.

Toyota will offer Sequoia in both two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models. This four-door SUV measures 203.9 inches bumper to bumper and has a 118.1-inch wheelbase. Sequoia's overall length, width, height and wheelbase -- as well as its interior volume dimensions -- will be larger than those of the Chevrolet Tahoe and nearly identical to those of the Ford Expedition. Its standard third seat and rear cargo area are more spacious than those of the Tahoe and Expedition.

True to Toyota's off-road heritage, ground clearance is more than 11 inches. That may be a bit tall for small people so side steps could be a necessity. Sequoia will ride on a slightly modified version of Tundra's rugged frame with single-piece side rails and eight crossmembers. The independent double-wishbone-type front suspension will be nearly identical to that of Tundra. The rear suspension features a five-link live axle with coil springs in place of the less sophisticated leaf units used in the pickup; the Sequoia suspension is tuned for increased ride comfort. A four-wheel disc anti-lock brake system will be standard.

Sequoia will be the first Toyota truck to feature curtain-shield side air bags. It also features three-point seat belts at all eight passenger positions, a safety feature often left out of sport-utilities. Toyota's vehicle stability control will be available as an option.

Expect all models to be available with the full range of lifestyle and luxury details and options. Basic creature comforts will include power windows/locks/mirrors, air conditioning, and tilt steering column.

Manufacturer Info Sources
1-800-GO-TOYOTA
http://www.toyota.com

© 2000 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

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