- What’s Best: Big SUV room and power.
- What’s Worst: Big SUV fuel economy, $2,000 Green Levy, dated design.
- What’s Interesting: A possible all-new version following up the Tundra makeover by 2020 or so should make for big changes.
Sometimes your biggest advantage is just being the biggest.
The 2018 Sequoia full-size sport utility tops Toyota’s sport utility lineup as the brand’s largest vehicle.
This derivative of the Tundra pickup follows old-school SUV architecture philosophy with a truck-based platform sturdily built for a limited audience dedicated to maximum size and muscle, serious towing ability, and up to eight passenger accommodation.
Under the hood, the Sequoia harnesses Toyota’s 5.7-litre i-Force V8, making 381 hp with a stump-pulling 401 lb/ft of torque. The big V8 is mated to a six-speed Super ECT automatic transmission.
Power is put to the road through Toyota’s on-demand, one-touch 4WD system with centre differential lock, auto limited slip rear diff, two-speed transfer case and automatic disconnecting differential.
Offering more than just the usual AWD system, this part-time four-wheel-drive system allows for 2WD, 4Hi or 4Lo choices from a dash-mounted dial.
The aging but still aggressive powertrain offers muscular acceleration, pushing this behemoth up to speed snappily despite the Sequoia’s porky 2,707 kg (5,970 lb) curb weight.
A resulting 3,220 kg (7,100 lb) tow rating has been enhanced by a trailer sway control system and an all-included tow package adding a heavy-duty hitch receiver, 4+7 pin connectors, trailer brake control and a transmission cooler and fluid temperature gauge.
The one thing this powertrain does not offer is fuel economy – no auto/stop system, no cylinder de-activation technology, which seems surprisingly archaic for a company that originated the Prius and Mirai.
Yes, it does spin at a leisurely 1,500 rpm at highway speed but it is still thirsty enough for a rating of 18.4/13.8/L100km city/highway, Which explains a painful $2,000 Green Levy added to the price sheet.
This Sequoia was the get-away wagon for my wife and a gang of her nutritionist colleagues as they headed north for a cooking/testing/recipe-writing weekend and, even with a majority of highway cruising mileage, they never did better than 16.8L/100km.
On the plus side, they found plenty of room for their luggage, coolers and bags full of groceries and ingredients.
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The 540 litres of cargo room expands to 1,886 litres with the third row power-folded flat, probably the best layout alternative due to limited seating room in the third row. If it’s just the two of you helping out on moving day, folding down the second row as well maximizes that cargo space to 3,400 litres.
Cabin appointments follow the same theme as the rest of the truck – do-able but dated, with lots of knobs and dials (which I have no problem with), plasticky switches, hard trim pieces and a kind of time-machine ambiance that flashes back to the ‘90s.
The re-design delay is understandable considering the Sequoia’s smallish slice of the sales pie, especially here in Canada where its yearly sales numbers are surpassed weekly by the more relevant RAV4.
Any cellar-dweller on the sales charts will engender extinction rumours but a new third generation Sequoia will probably follow hot on the heels of the new Tundra within the next few years.
If it does, I’d expect a new engine or even more alternative powertrain choices, a strict weight-loss regimen, a new transmission with more cogs, new techs, new amenities and a total makeover, maybe by 2020.
In the meantime, Toyota is tap-dancing as fast as it can before that curtain rise, with a quick fix facelift that adds a new grille, new front fascia design and new standard LED headlamps, foglamps and DRLs for 2018.
Inside, the 2018 Sequoia also adds a revised gauge cluster with high-visibility Optitron gauges and a 4.2-inch multi-info display.
A new Toyota Safety Sense P package for 2018 bolsters safety technologies with Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, auto high beams and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, enhancing an already comprehensive Toyota Star Safety System that includes a reverse camera, tire pressure sensors, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The Sequoia lineup comes in three trim choices – SR5, Limited and Platinum – ranging in price from around $60K-$75K.
Toyota also spiced up the base SR5 model for 2018 with a stopgap optional TRD Sport package ($5,215) adding TRD Sport-tuned Bilstein shocks and sway bars, front and rear clearance sonar, 20-inch black alloy wheels, middle captain seats, TRD Sport door sill protectors and badged floor mats, TRD shift knob and badging, gloss black front grille, lower grille chrome surround, black mirrors and black rear door garnish.
The Toyota Sequoia – overdue for an overhaul maybe, but mildly refreshed for 2018, with new LED lighting, techno additions and package tweaks is still strong, still capable and still the big ute alternative for the Toyota faithful.
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2018 Toyota Sequoia SR5
BODY STYLE: Full-size SUV with up to eight passengers.
DRIVE METHOD: Six-speed automatic and part-time 4WD system.
ENGINE: 5.7-litre V8 (381 hp, 401 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 18.4/13.8L/100km (city/hwy); As tested 16.8L/100km (comb).
CARGO: 540 litres behind third row, 1,886 litres (third row folded), 3,400 litres (second row folded).
PRICE: 2018 Toyota Sequoia SR5 $59,850. As tested $63,762 incl Green levy ($2,000), Freight ($1,785) and other fees.
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