The 2017 Toyota Sequoia, like the tree it’s named after, is freaking huge. This 6,000 pound heavy weight is the largest SUV offering from Toyota. It’s big, powerful, and comfortable with seating for seven. But what is it like to drive?
Climb up into the 10-way adjustable driver’s seat and behold the bevy of knobs and buttons. The interior is lush and insulated from outside noise. It’s pleasant but a little dated looking. A oversized shifter knob and huge console lid give occupants a sort of reverse-Gulliver effect. The infotainment system has adequate connectivity and is easy enough to navigate. The interior seems to be excellent for claustrophobic types.
The second-row seats come in two configurations, a three-way split bench or captain’s chairs. The third row is a 60/40 split bench. Both rows fold flat to create a huge unencumbered space for cargo. For the comfort and entertainment of those in the back seats there’s three-zone climate controls and a 9″ Blu-ray player screen. A pair of wireless headphones keeps the cinematic roar out of the cabin and in the ears of those watching.
This truck is looking a little long in the tooth with it’s last redesign in 2008. Gratefully, the it’s slated for a facelift available for next year’s models. The body work isn’t reflective of the new cubist direction Toyota used on the Tacoma and 4Runner. It’s much more rounded with fewer hard lines. It’s looks docile, the way a big man doesn’t have to mug at everyone in a bar to prove he can lick them in a brawl. His size speaks for him. Remember when 20″ wheels seemed big? They actually look to scale on this car, anything else might come across as puny.
The acceleration is decent for such a big vehicle thanks to the 381 horse-power 5.7 liter dual over head cam V8, the only available engine choice. This is backed up by a six-speed automatic and optional 4-wheel-drive. The fuel economy is dismal, with estimated milage of a rather hopeful 17 on the highway. During the test I never saw better than 15.
The Sequoia lumbers about like it’s on rubber stilts. No other new car I’ve driven is more numb on the road. The steering offers a vague, over-assisted feel with a ambiguous feedback on the highway. A cabin well-insulated from road and wind noise, not a bad thing, adds to the isolated sensation.
With a body this big it’s tough to know whether you’re encroaching on the next lane over. There are options for sport and comfort mode that control the air suspension and there’s a tow/haul mode, good for dragging RVs through hilly country. Speaking of RVs, this truck can brag on a very healthy 7,500 pound tow rating.
The quiet and comfortable ride is excellent for the passengers, it’s just not the most satisfying experience for the driver. With a base price for the 2-wheel-drive SR5 model runs about 46k. Step up to the Platinum edition and prices start at 62. You’ll have to pony up 65k for the dolled up version I tested.
While I like the luxurious aspects of the car, I’m a sucker for a quiet ride, my thrifty nature and appreciation of driving feel won’t let me love it. There’s certainly a market for this beast, otherwise they wouldn’t still be building them. My guess is this car is for the folks that want the space and capability of a large SUV, but have to reconcile a fetish for Toyota.