Based on the super-sized Toyota Tundra pickup, the 2009 Toyota Sequoia has little choice but to be extra large. Launched in 2008 as an all-new vehicle, the Sequoia eclipses the vehicle it replaced and is now playing in the same leagues as the Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, and Nissan Armada.
The behemoth from Toyota comes standard with a 4.7-liter V-8 and five-speed automatic that gets 14/17 mpg when outfitted with rear-wheel drive and only 13/16 mpg with four-wheel drive. An optional 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8, with its more efficient six-speed automatic, gets 14/19 mpg with two-wheel drive and 13/18 mpg with four-wheel-drive. The fuel economy numbers are a little better than those of the Expedition, Suburban, and Armada by a mile or so, but in the days of fluctuating fuel prices and the "greening" of everything, they seem a bit out of touch with reality.
The interior of the 2009 Toyota Sequioa was designed for large Americans, and the available room is tremendous. Both the front and second row of seats can handle adults easily, and the third-row seating has reasonable space for the post-teen ages. With the power-folding option, expanding the already generous rear cargo area is a breeze.
Most of the interior design and controls carry over from the Tundra, and it isn't necessarily a good thing. The finishes are less rich-looking than before, too, though plenty of features--from navigation systems to satellite radio--are offered.
The 2009 Toyota Sequoia comes with standard rear-wheel drive; four-wheel drive and an adjustable suspension are optional. The 4WD models have a knob-operated electronic two-speed transfer case containing a lockable Torsen limited-slip differential that transmits power to front and rear axles and can be locked with the push of a button.
The new, fully independent suspension has an available Active Variable (rear air) Suspension (AVS) package that has settings for comfort, normal, and sport modes.The Sequoia drives small despite its larger tires and wheels (18-inch alloys standard, 20-inchers optional). The turning radius is a sedan-like 39 feet, and handling is surprisingly capable for a vehicle of its size, but the Sequoia's height and sheer size, paired with tough outward visibility, make it cumbersome to maneuver. Steering is light but reasonably precise, and braking is solid and powerful even when towing a heavy load.
The 2009 Toyota Sequoia offers all the luxurious features and options you come to expect from a large SUV; from copious cup holders and storage to available middle-row captain's chairs, premium audio, DVD rear entertainment, and a reclining/power folding 60/40 split third-row bench.
The 2009 Toyota Sequoia gets a five-star rating for driver-side front-impact protection, along with four stars for the front passenger, from NHTSA, and it comes with all the expected safety equipment, including electronic stability control, side, and side-curtain airbags.
The Bottom Line:
The 2009 Toyota Sequoia is a good interpretation of a full-size SUV, but it's just not in sync with the times.