Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A, Inc., unveiled the second-generation Sequoia full-size sport utility vehicle at a press conference today at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show. Sequoia is completely new for 2008, with a new body, a new interior, a new chassis, an available new 5.7L V8 engine/six-speed transmission combination and an increased focus on efficiency, performance and driver/passenger comfort.
Since the Sequoia was introduced in 2000, the world has changed. With both gasoline prices and environmental concerns on the rise, Toyota's engineers and designers have taken steps to increase not just the 2008 Sequoia's performance and comfort, but also its efficiency and environmental awareness.
To that end, the Sequoia is equipped with an available powerful new 5.7L V8 engine that generates excellent fuel efficiency and very low emissions.
An all-new platform now provides exterior dimensions that are competitive with other vehicles in the Sequoia's class. Inside, highly efficient packaging gives the new Sequoia a very roomy cabin and a capacious luggage space.
In his efforts to be sure he got the 2008 Sequoia right, Chief Engineer Motoharu Araya immersed himself in American culture for two-and-a-half years as he began his design brief for the Sequoia. He even went so far as to live for a time with an American family that owned a fullsize SUV so that he could better understand the way SUV users relate to their vehicles. He also used the Internet to circulate a questionnaire so that he could acquire detailed information about how Americans use their SUVs and what their preferences are, right down to the side of the vehicle on which drivers prefer their fuel fillers to be located. The result is a class-leading vehicle with the efficiency, performance, comfort and convenience that SUV buyers want.
Engines and Transmissions
An available new DOHC 5.7L V8 engine enables the 2008 Sequoia to provide acceleration performance that is among the leaders in its class, especially while towing. Sequoia engineers developed the new engine to produce 381 hp, one of the highest outputs in this vehicle class. This engine, which is ULEV-II compliant, uses four valves per cylinder and Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) to produce 401 lb-ft of torque.
Dual VVT-i continually alters the phase of each camshaft by operating the oil-control valve and controlling oil pressure on the advance/retard chamber of the VVT-i cam pulley through signals from the engine control computer. It produces optimized valve timing, contributing to higher output and increased efficiency.
Compact pentroof combustion chambers and high-strength pistons that are resin-coated to reduce friction, low-tension piston rings and a low-friction valve train that uses roller rocker arms also are important features of this engine, as is an Acoustic Control Induction System that changes the length of the intake manifold runners based on engine speed and throttle opening. The exhaust system, constructed of stainless steel, uses a valve in the main muffler to alter exhaust flow, reduce exhaust noise and improve performance. It also employs four catalytic converters – two for cold starts and two main.
As a result, the 2008 Sequoia provides the acceleration desired by users and an available towing capacity of 10,000 lbs. In addition to the available 5.7L V8 engine, the 4.7L iForce V8 continues to be offered as standard.
A smooth-shifting electronically controlled five-speed automatic ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) is mated to the standard 4.7L V8, while a new six-speed ECT automatic is part of the powertrain package when the available 5.7L V8 is selected.
This transmission benefits from hydraulic pressures that are very carefully controlled for smoother shifts, and from highly accurate gear-tooth surfaces that help ensure low noise levels. A Tow/Haul mode that extends use of the lower gear ratios also is part of this transmission's package.
Both transmissions are controlled by floor-mounted shifters and are equipped with torque converters that use Toyota's flexible lock-up control for enhanced fuel efficiency, and both transmissions can be shifted sequentially.
Additionally, the six-speed transmission's torque converter will lock up in fourth and fifth gear, as well as in sixth gear.
On four-wheel-drive models, a two-speed transfer case that contains a lockable Torsen limited-slip differential is used to transmit power to both the front and rear wheels. Interestingly, this transfer case, with its 1:1 high-range gear ratio and its 2.618:1 low-range gear ratio, uses a durable six-gear planetary ring instead of the more usual four-gear ring. The transfer case is shifted electronically via a rotary knob within easy reach of the driver, and it locks with the push of a button. High-capacity universal joints are used in the drive line to accommodate the available power of the engines.
The front and rear differentials are larger for added strength and measure 8.7 inches in diameter (front) and 10.0 inches (rear). The standard differential ratio is 3.909:1, with an optional 4.3:1 ratio available as part of Sequoia's towing package.
Chassis and Suspension
To improve ride comfort and overall vehicle dynamics, the 2008 Sequoia was given an all-new platform that features independent suspension at both front and rear. This new suspension not only provides unparalleled ride, handling and straight-line stability, but it also equips Sequoia with an available towing capacity of 10,000 lbs which puts Sequoia among the leaders in its class.
To provide a vehicle that will not fatigue its driver or passengers even on very long trips, Sequoia engineers focused on improved ride comfort and quietness, and on enhanced straight-line stability.
The new independent suspension employs upper and lower A-arms at each wheel, tubular shock absorbers, coil springs and a hollow tubular antiroll bar. It provides not only improved chassis dynamics thanks to reduced unsprung weight, but also a turning radius of about 19 feet, the tightest in Sequoia's class. Additionally, increased suspension travel and a newly developed upper front shock-absorber support and lower bushing help enhance ride quality.
An available air suspension package and Active Variable Suspension (AVS), with settings for comfort, normal and sport, improves the ride comfort and augments the Sequoia's ability to tow and haul heavy loads while maintaining an appropriate ride height and chassis attitude.
Larger tires and wheels were adopted to complete the chassis equation. Standard are 275/65R18 tires and 18-inch aluminum wheels, while 275/55R20 tires and specially designed 20-inch aluminum wheels are available.
Inside those wheels, Sequoia uses 13.9-inch ventilated disc brakes up front and 13.6-inch ventilated disc brakes at the rear. To improve braking performance and fade resistance, calipers with four opposed pistons – two per side – are used for the front brakes. The Anti-lock Braking System is equipped with EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution) and Brake Assist.
Design and Styling
Working from a design theme articulated as “Rugged and Advanced,” engineers gave the 2008 Sequoia a new, larger body size and a tough new look.
Sequoia's overall length, width and height are increased, its wheelbase lengthened and its front and rear track is widened. Front and rear overhang, meanwhile, is reduced.
Larger headlamps, with available headlamp washers, were adopted, as were large side-view mirrors that are available with power retraction, automatic glare-resistance, puddle lamps, turn-signal lamps, position memory and reverse-linked tilt functions.
This new design achieves a drag coefficient of 0.35, which means the vehicle offers exceptional aerodynamic characteristics and low wind-noise. The vehicle's mirrors, wipers, A-pillar and roof header are shaped to maximize aerodynamic efficiency and minimize wind noise.
The Sequoia's underside, meanwhile, also is optimized to reduce drag and wind noise, and to help improve directional stability.
Interior and Comfort
A primary design goal was to ensure that the 2008 Sequoia is useful and user-friendly and its driver and passengers, regardless of size and build, have sufficient space to ride in comfort. To that end, the Sequoia's cabin interior is longer, wider and taller than the previous Sequoia. Indeed, space sufficient to comfortably accommodate people well above normal height is available in each of Sequoia's eight seats.
Additionally, the second-row seat is equipped with a sliding-type seat adjuster that allows the seat to be adjusted for added comfort when the number of passengers is limited. For the third-row seat, an advanced seat-cushion linkage reclining mechanism is adopted that elevates rear passenger comfort to new levels.
Designers took special care to create comfortable, spacious seats in all positions. To help achieve this goal, a new seat framework, with increased seat width, was adopted. The driver's seat is standard-equipped with power lumbar support, and available as an option on the front passenger seat. Seat heaters are available for the driver seat and front passenger seat.
The second-row seats are split 40:20:40, and separate captain's seats are available. The second-row seat is equipped with a seat-slide mechanism that offers an adjustment range of 5.9 inches.
This seat can also be folded down flat and uses an easy-slide action to allow passenger access to the third-row seat. A seat heater is standard with the Platinum grade, and child-seat restraints for the second row are standard on all grades.
The third-row seat is split 60:40, and it also has a seatback reclining mechanism. It too can be easily folded flat.
The interior surrounding these seats is a model of comfort, safety and efficiency and is filled with thoughtful details. For example, the rear-view mirror incorporates an automatic electrochromic function, and also incorporates a compass, a map lamp and garage-door-opener functions. Other thoughtful features include automatic up-and-down and jam protection for the front power windows, a back-door power window with automatic up-and-down, jam protection, and an available power back door equipped with an easy-closer and remote-control functions. An illuminated entry system is standard.
For the dash, designers incorporated a modular instrument panel structure and they endowed it, and other interior surfaces, with a finish and feel worthy of comparison with similar surfaces in the finest luxury cars. Rings around Sequoia's Optitron gauges, and the climate control knobs, are chrome colored, and panels on the dash are silver metallic.
A newly designed four-spoke steering wheel contains controls for the Sequoia's air conditioning system, Bluetooth®-capable phones and other functions. It is connected to a newly developed steering column with a floating intermediate shaft that helps enhance steering feel and minimize noise and vibration. This steering column offers both tilt and telescopic functions, and a powered memory feature is available.
The 2008 Sequoia offers automatic air-conditioning with solar sensors and automatic left and right independent temperature controls. Rear air conditioning also is part of the package. This three-zone system uses a newly developed multi-layer filter to ensure that air brought into the passenger cabin is as free from dust, pollen and other contaminants as possible.
To help keep driver and passengers entertained, the Sequoia's audio system is improved and speaker placement is optimized. An AM/FM/CD sound system with eight speakers is standard for SR5. Also available is a 660-watt JBL Synthesis 14-speaker system. The JBL systems are Bluetooth-compatible and are capable of receiving XM Satellite radio with the appropriately installed equipment and service subscription. Both are equipped with MP3 ports. A new-generation navigation system with a new menu screen and an improved seven-inch display is available for 2008.
To enhance the travel experience for passengers in the second- and third-row seats, a Rear Seat Entertainment system with a DVD player and nine-inch display is available.
The same efficient packaging that allows class-leading interior comfort, allows hauling pieces up to 11 feet in length.
Throughout, there are eight extra-large cup holders and eight bottle holders, and designers also took steps to enhance Sequoia's availability of storage spaces. For instance, the glove box now measures 9.5 liters, and the second-row console box will hold 12 CDs or four DVD cases.
For the seating surfaces, both leather and an easy-to-clean fabric are available. Three interior colors are available, one of which is new. The new one is Red Rock/Black, available only in the Platinum grade, while the others are Gray and Sand Beige.
The 2008 Sequoia employs active and passive safety features to help provide protection for vehicle occupants. Sequoia is equipped with Toyota's STAR Safety System, which includes VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), and TRAC (Traction Control) (2WD models) or A-TRAC (Active-Traction Control) (4WD models), ABS (antilock braking) with EBD (electronic brake force distribution) and Brake Assist.
Sequoia's collision safety performance is enhanced by driver and passenger seat-mounted side- and side- curtain airbags that are included as standard equipment; and roll-sensing side curtain airbags that extend from the front seat to the third-row seat.
Standard Features and Options
The 2008 Sequoia is available in three grades – SR5, Limited and Platinum.
The list of standard items on the SR5 and Limited grades, includes the 276 hp 4.7L V8 engine and automatic transmission, Toyota's STAR Safety System, Electronic Brake Distribution with Brake Assist, side curtain airbag with rollover sensor, engine immobilizer with alarm, direct tire pressure monitoring system, seating for eight passengers, eight-way manually adjustable driver's seat, four-way manually adjustable front passenger's seat, fold-flat feature for second- and third-row seats, auto tri-zone air conditioning, power windows, locks, back window, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD eight-speaker audio system with a mini-plug for iPod compatibility, rear wiper and defogger, tilt/telescope steering wheel, cruise control, spare tire and mud guards.
To that, the Limited grade adds front and rear parking sonar, fog lamps, heated leather-trimmed seats, 10-way-adjustable driver's seat, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shift knob, Optitron gauges, multi-information display, electrochromatic rear-view mirror, roof rack, running boards and JBL Synthesis audio system with Bluetooth capability.
The Platinum grade includes all of the above, and also adds the 5.7L V8 engine and six-speed transmission, 20-inch diamond cut-finish alloy wheels, rear load-leveling air suspension, power seat memory package, heated and air-conditioned front seats (driver and first-row passenger), second-row heated seats, rear spoiler, power back door, sunroof, headlamp cleaner, and navigation system with a backup camera.
A wide range of options is available on the SR5 and Limited Grades, including the 5.7L V8 engine and six-speed transmission, four-wheel drive, a towing package, rear-seat entertainment system, heated leather-trimmed seat packages, load-leveling rear air suspension, sunroof, 20-inch alloy wheels, power back door, and more. Laser cruise control is an option exclusive to the Platinum grade.
The Sequoia's designers and engineers went to extraordinary lengths to make sure the vehicle is as comfortable to ride in and convenient to use as possible. As an example of the conveniences they specified, an available electrically driven full-flat tilting mechanism was developed for the third-row seat. When the seat is folded into its flat position, large baggage or cargo can be loaded without removing the seat.
Every small detail was carefully planned in the effort to ensure concerns of quality were attended to. For instance, engineers worked to improve the operational feel of the Sequoia's switches. They specified large door handles that would be easy to use, and located the handles at an optimum height.
Closing the back door requires less force than was required on previous models, and the back-door glass can be opened and closed for easy loading or ventilation with the turn of a key. Also included are handy hooks in the cargo section from which to hang grocery bags.
The rear door opening angle is 10 degrees wider than the previous model, providing easier passenger ingress/egress and child seat installation.
An intuitive parking assist system is optionally available. This uses sensors and an audible warning to alert the driver of the position of solid objects, and their distance from the vehicle.
As a final interesting touch, the Sequoia's towing hitch is integrated into the frame as a single unit.