Toyota Sequoia (2001)



Toyota Sequoia Limited 4WD(2001)

Toyota Sequoia

The Sequoia was introduced in the 2001 model year as Toyota's biggest sport utility vehicle. And big it is. The Sequoia is based on the new, full-size Tundra pickup truck. In terms of price, it's in between the 4Runner and the more luxurious but smaller Land Cruiser.

The Sequoia comes in two- and four-wheel-drive versions and in two trim levels: SR5 and Limited. There's one body style, a four-door with a lift gate in the back. The vehicle we drove, a four-wheel-drive Limited, has a target price of $41,148.

Driving Experience

For its humongous size, the Sequoia handles remarkably well. Think of it as a 2 1/2-ton Camry. The 240-horsepower V8 is incredibly smooth, as is the four-speed automatic transmission. On the road the Sequoia is very quiet and comfortable. The Sequoia doesn't feel as tippy as a lot of SUVs. The standard antilock brakes worked well.

All of this refinement makes the Sequoia feel smaller than its maincompetitor, the Ford Expedition, although the two vehicles are within an inch of each other in virtually every dimension. (The Toyota, at nearly 5,300 pounds, is actually almost 500 pounds heavier.)

Toyota SequoiaThe Sequoia is so big that you constantly have to remind yourself just how humongous a vehicle it is, so as not to knock into things. Around Harvard Square, we had to keep checking to make sure we didn't squash too many moped riders and pedestrians.

The four-wheel-drive system was adequate to the task of getting us through the snows of Our Fair City, although it didn't feel as unstoppable as some other vehicles we've driven recently. By the way -- prospective Sequoia drivers, like all other sport utility drivers, need to remember that no matter how well behemoths like the Sequoia can conquer snowbanks ... you still have to stop. SUVs are no better at stopping than any other vehicle.

The Sequoia transmission has the full complement of four-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive options. You can lock the center differential for maximum traction -- say, when you're stuck at your mother-in-law's house during a blizzard -- or you can shift into high or low range.

However, we found the controls for the drive system to be confusing, even after we took the extreme step of resorting to the owner's manual. If you want all-wheel drive, for example, you need to put the "high-low" shifter on the floor into "high," then turn on the four-wheel-drive button on the dashboard. Then, should you want to lock the center differential, you hit the "four-wheel-drive" button once more, and the center differential light goes on.


If you do buy a Sequoia, you might want to take the preventive measure of having your trouser seams reinforced. We blew out more than a few pairs of pants stepping into the vehicle. Even though there are running boards, we found that it requires quite an effort to get up behind the wheel.

Toyota SequoiaOnce inside, there's plenty of room to get comfortable. Did we mention that this vehicle is big? It's very wide, for one thing, with about a foot of space separating the driver's and passenger seats. There's headroom, shoulder room and legroom galore, front and back. The Sequoia has three rows of seats and claims to have room for eight passengers, although the rearmost seat should be set aside for children or "drop-kick"-size dogs.

Toyota SequoiaThe leather seats are comfortable, and there are plenty of cubbies and storage bins scattered about. The dual storage bin between the front seats is big enough to stash a loaf of bread -- or perhaps an extra pair of pants, should you blow out your inseam getting into position.Visibility is pretty good. There are air bags for the driver and front-seat passenger, and side-curtain air bags as well.


Toyota SequoiaMost of the controls in the Sequoia are easy to find and easy to use. Stalks on the steering column hold the controls for the lights, windshield wipers, and cruise control. Some of the controls, however, are simply too far away, no doubt a result of the Sequoia's enormity. The radio, for example, was placed where it required us to lean forward and stretch to reach it.

Toyota SequoiaThe Sequoia does have several nice touches. Front and rear passengers have their own ventilation controls, so, unfortunately, you don't have the option of attempting to cryogenically freeze your mother-in-law. Another nice touch is the side-mirror control, which allows you to automatically fold the mirrors in for parking. With the mirrors folded, the Sequoia is 18 inches narrower -- and every inch counts on a vehicle this size.


Toyota SequoiaThere's not a whole lot you can do with a large SUV, but we thought the Sequoia was pretty nice looking. It's nothing remarkable, but at least it's not as ugly as some other SUVs we know.


The Sequoia has the same proven engine as the Lexus LS 430, except the engine block is cast iron instead of aluminum. Plus, it's got Toyota's reputation for reliability. We would expect it to be very reliable over the years.


Because this vehicle is so humongous, there's lots of room in the engine compartment for service and maintenance. For this reason, the Sequoia should prove to be very easy to service.

Overall comments

Toyota Sequoia
The Sequoia is not to be confused with one of those SUVs that's a reasonable alternative to a car. This is a beast of a vehicle -- but an elegant beast. The Sequoia is an SUV that's made for folks who have to carry eight passengers or large loads in lousy weather or over unpaved roads. If you really must drive one of these beasts, the Sequoia is a pretty good choice. The combination of a smooth powertrain, good ride, good handling, and interior comfort are hard to beat. We thought the Sequoia was much better than its main competition, the Ford Expedition.

One word of warning in parting: Be aware that roads will never look narrower than when you're behind the driver's wheel of a Sequoia -- and that gas stations will seem to grow closer and closer together as well. Not to say that the Sequoia drinks gas, but pulling up to a meeting of the board of the Exxon Corporation in this vehicle could well win you a standing ovation.

View model report on this vehicle.

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