Many reasons exist to literally steer away from purchasing a large sport utility vehicle. Lack of gas mileage is one negative. Every time I drive a behemoth SUV, it seems like one eye watching the gas gauge dip as another $70 fill-up looms.
But it’s a shame gas concerns and environmental considerations have brought down the desirability of large SUVs, since they’re being built better than ever.
Driving dynamics and interior design are among the improvements, yet owning a heavyweight SUV seems impractical for many current car buyers.
The Toyota Sequoia is an SUV that should be highly desired. But it’s been overlooked, even with its first redesign since its 2001 debut. The 2008 Sequoia features a move to the Tundra chassis. It’s longer and wider, has increased performance and possesses a more stylish appeal.
Make no mistake, it’s one huge truck, measuring more than 17 feet in length and weighing nearly three tons. The improved performance in the upgraded Platinum model I tested for a week jacks up the towing capacity to 10,000 pounds.
So with all those positives, why is Toyota cutting back on production of both the Sequoia and the Tundra? The available number of buyers is shrinking as drivers are turning to more gas-efficient vehicles or choosing crossover SUVs with more comfortable rides.
Another large SUV negative is diminishing trade-in value. Even with the ultra-dependable Toyota reputation, the Sequoia is not keeping its value; Dealers really don’t want totouch them.
Still, for individuals who want a big SUV or large families, the Sequoia is a good way to go. This year’s model is larger and roomier, has solid seating flexibility and handles itself pretty well for a large vehicle.
While the standard Sequoia has the same performance as the 2007 model (4.7-liter, V8, 276 horsepower), the upgraded versions for 2008 all come with a power-laden 5.7-liter, V8 with 381 HP that is paired with an efficient shifting six-speed automatic transmission.
One auto magazine says the Sequoia accelerates 0-60 mph in just over six seconds, quick for its class.
Some buyers won’t mind the sticker price of $34,150 for the base model with two-wheel drive. Yet the Platinum model with many upgrades isn’t a bargain at $53,060.
But there is still plenty to like about the new Sequoia, including comfortable passenger accommodations, great acceleration, solid handling, and a power third row seat that folds down flat and offers quite a bit of cargo space.
FAST FACTS: Toyota Sequoia, 2008
Power — 5.7-liter, V8, 381 horsepower; Mileage Estimates — 14 mpg (city), 18 mpg (highway); Standard Features — brake assist, antiskid system, tri-zone automatic climate controls, center console, rear privacy glass, leather upholstery, navigation system, rear view camera, heated/cooled front seats, 10-way power driver seat, power-folding third-row seat, roof rack; Warranty — Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Bumper-to-bumper, 3/36,000 miles; Corrosion 5 years/unlimited miles.