The double whammy of high gas prices and fears of global warming have left one vehicle segment grasping at straws: full-size, body-on-frame SUVs. Increasingly these pure trucks are being replaced by car-like crossover utilities that give out some abilities for better economy. But, whether it’s for big hauling or big towing, there will always be a need for big Ute at some households. So lets see if the all-new, second generation, 2008 Toyota Sequoia is ready to meet that need.         

Full-size, body-on-frame sport-utility vehicles may have fallen on hard times, but the designers behind the all-new 2008 Toyota Sequoia were not about to let that stop them from building a class leader.

While based on the Tundra pickup, the Sequoia’s new frame now sports a double-wishbone independent suspension at both ends. The longer, wider, taller Sequoia rides on a nearly 4-inch stretched 122-inch wheelbase.

To match its new girth, our SR5-grade test vehicle came shod with larger 18-inch wheels. Even bigger 20-inch wheels are optional.

They’re turned by either the carryover 276-horse power 4.7-liter V8, or the Tundra’s 5.7-liter V8 with 381-horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque.

The variable timing V8 mates to the Tundra’s 6-speed automatic for a big maximum trailer tow rating of 10,000 pounds. That’s a third more than last year.

The available 4-wheel drive system includes a 2-speed transfer case, a lockable Torsen limited-slip differential, with electronic traction and stability control.

The downside is government fuel economy ratings of only 13 city/18 highway. We average 15.1 miles-per-gallon in mixed driving on regular grade gas. So the big Sequoia’s energy impact score is also big, at 22.8 barrels of oil per year.

At least Sequoia is fast for its class: 0 to 60 in 6.5-seconds. The quarter-mile runs out in 15 seconds at 94 miles-per-hour. Darn quick for a 6,000 pound sport-ute.

The 5.7 is also among the smoothest V8s around, with copious amounts of lower end punch. But while the 6-speed tranny is also very refined, shifts are little sluggish.

Adding independent rear suspension has reduced ground clearance by a few tenths of an inch, but provides more wheel travel and impressive improvements in ride quality.

Our 4-wheel-drive Sequoia came equipped with optional load leveling rear suspension. An even more sophisticated Active Variable Suspension, with comfort, normal, and sport modes is available.

But even without a sport mode, our test machine delivered much more agile handling than the first gen Sequoia.

Turn in is sharper, with the usual big truck push. And the steering, despite being a little on the light side, was much quicker.

Braking is by 4-wheel discs with 4-piston calipers up front, and ABS with Brake Assist. They delivered stops from 60 of 130 feet, with straight, solid control.

The 2008 Sequoia matches its solid performance with muscular aggressive styling that mirrors that of the Tundra pickup. Edges have been rounded off to give it a more aero look, but the look is no less massive than before.

Improvements include a lighter rear hatch with a power rear window and a single piece integrated tow hitch.

Inside, the Sequoia boasts seating for eight. Headroom has been reduced slightly, but there’s more leg room in the front seat, and a substantial increase in shoulder room for all rows.

While our Sequoia SR5 is now the base trim, it includes a lot of features such as 8-way manual adjust driver’s seat with power optional.  A standard tilt and telescoping steering wheel and a fold flat front passenger seat for long loads.  The SR5 even gets 3-zone air conditioning and 8-speaker CD audio with an MP3 player input.

The 2nd-row seat splits 40/20/40 and features easy-slide access to a roomier 3rd row seat that now folds flat into the floor.  There’s also a convenient floor-mounted seat release for 3rd row passengers, and all three rows are protected by side curtain airbags.

Despite a bigger body, overall cargo space is down a bit with 18.9 cubic feet behind the 3rd row. Folding the 3rd row, either manually or with the optional power package, allows 66.6 cubic-feet, and folding the 2nd and 3rd row produces a still big 120.8 cubic-feet.

Pricing for the new Sequoia is class competitive at $34,835 for a 2-wheel-drive SR5. The mid-level Limited starts at $45,910, while the top-of-the-line Platinum model stickers at $53,060.

But no matter which trim you choose, the 2008 Toyota Sequoia is sure to please any buyer seeking a powerful and capable sport-ute.

Yes, these are tough times for big SUVs. But if your needs require their extreme passenger and towing capabilities, then you should take a long hard look at the Sequoia. It’s the newest full-size body-on-frame SUV, and it could be the last.


  • Engine: 5.7-Liter V8
  • Horsepower: 381
  • Torque: 401 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 6.5 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.0 Seconds @ 94 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 130 Feet
  • EPA: 13 MPG City/ 18 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 15.1 MPG
  • Energy Impact: 22.8 Barrels Oil/Yr