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Base Price (MSRP):$38,530.00 / As Tested (MSRP): $52,815.00
2010 Toyota Sequoia
View The 2010 Toyota Sequoia Specifications
Review by: New Car Test Drive
Tundra-level truck capability, with eight-passenger seating. 

Model Lineup
The Toyota Sequoia SR5 ($38,530) comes with cloth upholstery, tri-zone air conditioning; power windows, locks, and back window; keyless entry; an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with a plug for iPod compatibility; tilt steering; cruise control; spare tire; and mud guards. The SR5 is available with 4WD ($41,755). The bigger, 5.7-liter V8 is optional ($625) with either 2WD or 4WD. A Sport Package upgrades the second row bench to bucket seats (reducing total seating to seven) and upgrades with a power-adjustable driver's seat, 20-inch alloy wheels with a unique finish, color-keyed sport grille, rear spoiler, fog lamps, and a black fabric interior. For 2010, new standard equipment for the SR5 includes the towing package, eight-way power driver's seat, fog lamps, running boards, power tilt/slide moonroof, a roof rack, rear spoiler, and a leather steering wheel with audio and climate controls. The SR5's standard audio system gains integrated Satellite Radio and Bluetooth.

Sequoia Limited ($48,640) comes standard with the 5.7-liter V8 and adds heated, leather trimmed seats; upgrades the driver's seat to 10-way adjustable; and adds leather trim to the steering wheel, seats, and gearshift knob. The rear 60/40 third-row seat is power operated. The dash is upgraded with brighter Optitron gauges and a multi-information display, and a 14-speaker JBL Synthesis audio system includes Bluetooth capability. Outside, the Limited adds a roof rack, fog lamps, running boards and parking sonar system. The Limited is available with four-wheel drive ($51,865). For 2010, new standard equipment for the Limited includes a power rear door with a sliding window, 20-inch alloy wheels power tilt/slide moonroof, rear spoiler, and a backup camera with a 3.5-inch display built into the rear-view mirror.

The Platinum ($55,680) comes with 20-inch alloy wheels, a rear load-leveling suspension, and a memory feature for the power seats, which are heated and air conditioned in the front. Second-row seats are heated buckets, converting the interior to seven-passenger capacity, and a navigation system with backup camera is standard. Exterior features include a power back door, moonroof, and headlamp cleaner. Also standard on Platinum are laser cruise control, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a seven-inch screen and a separate rear-seat audio system, including wireless headphones. There is also a new wood-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob. The Platinum is available with four-wheel drive ($58,905). Options for the Limited include the rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1,670), and navigation ($1,460).

Safety features standard on all models include advanced frontal airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front row, side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), traction control, and ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.


Walkaround
The Toyota Sequoia is long and wide, with a long wheelbase, and is designed to look tall and oversized, so as to project strength from a distance. It's every inch a full-size SUV. The Sequoia shares design features with the Tundra pickup from the front bumper to the B-pillar, along with numerous drive train components.

The 2010 Toyota Sequoia low windshield angle accentuates bulk below the hood line, and large high-mounted headlamps add an alert look to a cabin-forward design. Exterior mirrors are large, because they have to be, but careful smoothing has reduced wind noise, as does the use of partially hidden wipers that likewise must be very large to sweep the large front windshield. The design has a drag coefficient of 0.35, respectable for a full-size truck.

From the side, large, strong-looking door handles are apparent, the kind you'd appreciate if you wear gloves. The rear doors open wide, for easy child seat and passenger access. Parking sensors enable easier parking and the ability to avoid people or toys lurking in the driveway.


Interior Features
The Toyota Sequoia cabin is built for passenger comfort, with generous legroom and headroom. Seating is designed for long days of driving, with a comfortable, unusually wide driver's seat with power lumbar support. The seats have soft, wide bolsters and the kind of adjustability that allows a driver to shift around during long drives.

The Sequoia boasts a large cabin. The interior is conspicuously wide and offers ample legroom and shoulder room. The dash is simple and focused, with two central gauges, speedometer and tachometer, flanked by fuel, temperature and voltage gauges. Bright rings accent the instrumentation.

A very large rectangular shifter dominates the metallic center strip area, and behind it is a wide central console designed to hold 12 CDs or four DVD cases. The four-spoke steering wheel contains controls for AC, Bluetooth-capable phones and audio functions. The steering column tilts and telescopes.

Switches and dials are used to control windows and the HVAC system. The HVAC system is designed to define and maintain three different climate zones, two in the front, and one in the back. We think Toyota does a 2010 Toyota Sequoia good job when it comes to switch feel and operational consistency of dials and other touch points.

Two overhead compartments are suitable for sunglasses, and the control strip has sunroof controls. An electrochromic rear view mirror is standard except on SR5, and the mirror contains built-in garage door opener buttons operating on three different frequencies.

The sun visors are huge, and they slide on their hangers, providing effective shade for driver and passenger all day long. On the A-pillar are hefty grab handles, with grips big enough to support body weight as you swing into the seat.

The interior is notable for thoughtful features that increase utility, such as a compass, map light, automatic up-and-down jam protection for front power windows, and back door power window. There are eight cup holders, eight bottle holders, console surfaces, everything you would want for eating in the Sequoia while putting away the miles. And then, there's lots of door pocket space for trash.

The Sequoia is especially designed to make the third-row passenger seats more comfortable, and more useful, more like real seating for adults. To that end, the third-row seats have almost as much leg room as the second-row seats, and have adjustability features rarely seen in eight-passenger SUVs. For those who often make use of the third row, the Sequoia's standard interior layout is better than many SUVs we've seen, in which the third-row seats constitute emergency seating for smaller people only. Those who do not need eight-passenger capacity can configure the Sequoia with captain's chairs in the second row, which shifts the priority to second-row passenger comfort.

The Sequoia is one of the very few SUVs with a retractable rear hatch window. It also has a closed, removable ashtray that is dish-washable, and a cigarette lighter up front.

Last but not least, the Sequoia has ample cargo room behind the third row, and even more if you fold it down. When the seat is folded flat, large baggage or cargo can be loaded without removing the seat. It is a well-organized cargo area, even having tow hooks that can hang grocery bags. The seat folds flat manually in SR5's, and upgrades to a power folding feature in Limited and Platinum models.


Driving Impressions
We found the Sequoia comfortable for a 1,000-mile day. Driving the Toyota Sequoia is like sitting in your den, watching the world go by. It may be big, but it's not tiring to operate as the day goes on. It's the kind of vehicle that an American family will want for a long, long day on the interstate. It's got long legs and an effortless cruising pace. There is low noise and vibration, so you can listen to the audio system or converse at a normal tone of voice. It gets 18-19 mpg on the open road, so it can gobble up almost 500 miles between fill-ups on the highway. The more people, the more load, the more stuff you have, the better. No doubt about it, the Sequoia is at home on the biggest of North American roads.

In everyday driving, the suspension is surprisingly compliant for a vehicle built to carry heavy loads. There is a minimum of tummy jiggle on broken surfaces, and yet, when hard braking is called for, the front end does not dive wildly or pitch about. The Platinum version has the active air suspension, which has the ability to maintain more even ride height with heavy loads, which we tested and found it works well. Without a load or a trailer, we couldn't tell much difference between the suspensions. The standard setup is an independent A-arm configuration at all four corners, with coil springs and anti-roll bars.

The 5.7-liter V8 has lots of power, with an impressive reserve of torque. We loafed along at 2000 rpm or less all day long without feeling the need to punch the throttle. The 5.7-liter makes most of its torque below 3600 rpm, so when you do decide to pass, acceleration is impressive. The 5.7-liter is ULEV-II compliant, meaning it emits very little pollution (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle). It features four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valves, and a low-friction valve train enhances efficiency. Consistent with the internal component quality is the exhaust, which is made from stainless steel and has four catalytic converters.

The 4.6-liter V8 also has four valves per cylinder and variable 2010 Toyota Sequoia valve timing on both intake and exhaust valves. It is not as strong as the 5.7-liter engine, but it delivers a level of power that should be more than adequate for any owner who doesn't have to tow heavy loads.

The six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission accounts for part of the Sequoia's decent highway mileage. The transmission is controlled by a shifter that allows sequential shifting, and has a lock-up torque converter for better towing efficiency and heat control. There is a Tow/Haul mode that changes the shift points for heavy loads and long, uphill grades.

Four-wheel-drive models come with a two-speed transfer case with 2.6:1 Low range. We found Low range easy to get in and out of, even on ground that was not perfectly level. And the gearing seemed low enough that the Sequoia could crawl at speeds slow enough to slog up very steep terrain.

Towing capabilities are in the class of a full-size pickup. The Sequoia can tow up to 10,000 pounds. A seven-pin connector and a standard four-pin connector are set up and ready to use, and there is a pre-wired brake controller connector under the dash, similar to the Tundra. The Max Gross Combined Weight Rating, the total permissible weight of vehicle and trailer, is 16,960-17,280 pounds, depending on equipment.

The brakes are consistent with full-size pickup capability. Very large discs are mounted on all four corners. The brakes feel reasonably gradual, with some forgiveness at the top of the pedal and very strong response as foot pressure is increased. The brakes are enhanced by ABS (anti-lock brake system) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), the latter of which keeps all four brakes accurately proportioned as the vehicle stops, assuring straighter stops and better control and shorter stopping distances. Brake Assist reduces stopping distances in panic situations. These are all useful and necessary features for a modern SUV, particularly one that might be towing a boat or RV.

We still have a hard time trusting laser cruise control, but after a day in the Sequoia it got easier. We suspect dynamic cruise control is one of those features that we'll all rely on before the decade is out. We switched it on and watched it work, carefully, and, sure enough, it sensed vehicles as we came up on them, slowed appropriately, and maintained the distance we selected. Then, when the lane opened, it slowly resumed speed. It's not really intended for use on a crowded highway, but it's useful on open highways with low traffic.

In daily use around town, the Sequoia will seem big to those not accustomed to maneuvering full-size domestic iron. We notice that, like any full-size, the hood is long and tall, and the distance to the rear bumper is not easily estimated without practice.

Parking sensors front and rear go a long way toward making the best of the need to fit a big SUV into an average parking space by providing audible warnings when maneuvering in close quarters.

The rearview camera that displays a video image of what's behind you on the navigation screen is even better. We highly recommend getting this optional feature for its safety benefits. A rearview camera, in addition to the audible warnings, can help alert the driver to a child behind the vehicle or, more commonly, unseen objects you don't want to hit. It also makes the parking process easier and speedier. The camera also helps greatly when hitching a trailer, eliminating the need for trial and error or a spotter.

Steering is fingertip-easy around town. The turning circle is just 39 feet. It avoids being boat-like by a variable system that adds more return-to-center and a firmer, more precise level of control as speeds increase. At higher speeds, we found the Sequoia easy to keep in its lane without undue attention. While this family SUV is not built to be a cornering machine on country roads, control is good enough for confident handling. The steering column actually has a floating shaft that keeps noise and vibration from coming through to the wheel.

On a vehicle this big, power windows and doors are more than just luxury options; they become necessities. It's an impossible reach across the cabin, and a long walk to open the tailgate in the rain. The power rear hatch can be opened using the remote fob, handy when approaching the vehicle in a downpour with a load of groceries.


Final Word
The Toyota Sequoia is for big loads, big roads and wide open spaces. There is ample power in reserve for towing and hauling, and a roomy, comfortable interior. There are so many small, 2010 Toyota Sequoia thoughtful touches, we get the sense that the Sequoia is one of those SUVs an owner would grow to appreciate more and more as time goes on. It seats seven or eight. It's capable for traversing rugged terrain. It can tow up to 10,000 pounds. The Sequoia offers full-size truck capability with roomy, comfortable surroundings.

John Stewart filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after driving the Sequoia around Durham, North Carolina.

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