2001 Toyota Sequoia Review

2001 Toyota Sequoia - Own ZIP Code.


Smaller, carlike sport-utility vehicles are getting hotter. But Toyota's new Sequoia sport-ute is almost big enough to have its own ZIP code.

Based on Toyota's rugged full-size Tundra pickup truck, the four-door Sequoia is the largest vehicle ever sold in this country by a Japanese automaker.

Toyota long has been pressured by dealers to make big, powerful pickups and sport-utes to match such high-profit vehicles from U.S. automakers. The large, rugged Toyota Land Cruiser hasn't counted because it's a $50,000-plus low-volume sport-utility.

Toyota believes in eventually covering all bases. We thus get the well-executed Sequoia, which is larger and roomier than the Land Cruiser and should make Toyota dealers very happy. The Sequoia has conventional styling but features the Tundra's 240-horsepower V-8 and a standard third-row seat that allows seating for eight.

The made-in-Indiana Sequoia was designed for the U.S. market and competes with sport-utes such as the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe. It comes in SR5 and higher-line LTD trim levels.

Base prices range from $30,815 for the entry rear-drive model to $42,275 for the top-line four-wheel-drive version.

Few Sequoias are likely to be driven off pavement, but this truck is fully capable of handling tough off-road driving with its four-wheel-drive system, which can be engaged by pushing a dashboard button. Toyota knows that few costly, snobbish Range Rovers are taken off road, but their producer sells many of them by emphasizing off-road prowess.

Environmentalists may throw rocks at the Sequoia, so it has been given the first Toyota sport-ute engine to earn EPA ultra-low emissions status.

In response to charges that big sport-utes are prone to roll over more easily, Toyota has given the Sequoia skid control and traction control systems for better stability.

Also standard are anti-lock brakes and Electronic Brake Distribution, which tailors braking to the load carried. For added safety, side impact air bags and curtain-shield side air bags are offered as options for front-seat occupants.

The smooth V-8 works with an efficient four-speed automatic transmission. Like the Tundra, the shift lever is on the steering column; most upscale sport-utes have a console-mounted lever.

The steering is rather heavy, but quick. It enables this 5,200-pound vehicle to be steered like a car. Not that the high, heavy vehicle handles like an auto, but it's easy to maneuver the Sequoia when away from tight areas. It has a generally trucklike ride, but stops confidently.

The engine is noisy when pushed but propels the Sequoia to 60 mph in a fairly quick (for a big truck) 9.4 seconds and allows supremely relaxed highway cruising. Not that fuel economy is anything to brag about on or off the highway: an estimated 14 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway with rear-drive and 14 and 17 with four-wheel drive.

Towing ability is average for a big sport-ute because the Sequoia's 4.7-liter V-8 isn't especially large.

Extra effort is needed to climb into the tall, aptly named Sequoia's soothingly quiet, nicely designed interior, where you'll find comfortable seats, high-quality materials and smooth controls. There also are plenty of big cupholders and a large front storage bin. Ashtrays even are in the rear doors, which have windows that roll all the way down.

There is decent cargo room even with the third seat in place, along with supreme seating versatility. Second-row seats are 60/40 split/fold/recline and tumble units. The third-row 50/50 split seats also fold, recline and tumble--and can slide forward and back to adjust either passenger leg room or rear cargo area. Each rear seat half weighs 52 pounds for fairly easy removal.

The whale-size Sequoia will be a tight fit in many garages, and potential buyers should seriously ask themselves if they really need such a big sport-ute. If so, the Sequoia is one of the better ones.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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