What do you do if you have a sturdy bestselling truck that has gained fame and won numerous awards? Why, make another one, of course. That is what Toyota did when it realized its Tundra needed to have an SUV counterpart, one that would have some of the truck’s characteristics and at the same time hold its own against other full-size SUVs. The result was a car that had the engine, sheet metal, and chassis of a Tundra, but had rear disc brakes and a sophisticated multi-link live axle rear suspension. Thus, Toyota’s first mainstream, full-size SUV was born—the Toyota Sequoia.
2000: Great expectations
Introduced into production in November 2000, the Toyota Sequoia was targeted for the recreationally active American family. Besides being a complement to the Toyota Tundra in the SUV category, the Sequoia stood between the 4Runner and the Land Cruiser with regards to price and product. Compared to the Land Cruiser, however, the Sequoia had more leg room. In 2001, its V8 engine was certified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) by the Air Resources Board of California—that means it’s been tested to emit 50% less polluting emissions than the average for new cars released in that model year. With all the great praise thrown the Sequoia’s way, car enthusiasts only saw the SUV as improving in the next few years.
2005: A more powerful engine
In 2005, the Sequoia’s 4.7-liter V8 engine got a power upgrade from 240 hp to 282 hp and was coupled with a five-speed automatic transmission. This model year also saw the Sequoia as having a bumped-up towing capacity: 6,500 lbs for the two-wheel drive and 6,200 lbs for the four-wheel drive. Two packages were also offered, both of which included a height-adjustable rear suspension—the SR5's sport package and the Limited's luxury package. In terms of changes in its appearance, the Sequoia’s grill was recognizable grill was redesigned, and the orange-colored component was removed from the taillights.
2007 to 2008: Safety features added
The 2007 model was developed with front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags, which added to the safety features of the modern Sequoia. The year after that marked the second generation of the Sequoia, which came with a new trim line: the Platinum. Among its features were a DVD-based navigation system, a rear DVD entertainment system, and heated seats with ventilated coolers in the front seats. The Platinum model also included a rear air suspension that can be lowered for easy loading, and Dynamic Laser Cruise Control. This feature allowed the vehicle to slow down when approaching another vehicle again or speed up again to pre-decided values when traffic allows.
2009 to present: Modern, even more powerful, and safer
The second-generation Sequoia—even with new modern features such as power doors and a keyless entry—still carried the previous-generation engine for two years from 2008-2009. It wasn’t until model-year 2010 that its engine gained more power—it was given a powerful 4.6-liter base V8. The present models also feature front-seat knee airbags for driver and passenger safety. They also came with standard Bluetooth and iPod integration.