History of the Toyota Sequoia

As this 2001 is the first year for the Sequoia, below is a full description of the all new full-sized SUV.


Arriving in November 2000, Sequoia is Toyota's first mainstream, full-size sport utility vehicle.  It was developed to fill a key product and price position between the 4Runner and the Land Cruiser.  Larger and roomier than the Cruiser, Sequoia complements Toyota's SUV lineup with the size, features, performance and pricing that are currently in such high demand with recreationally active American families.

"Sequoia is much more than Toyota's Biggest SUV," said Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice-president and general manager.  "Like Tundra, Sequoia was developed, designed and built to meet the unique demands of the American market."

Sequoia's overall length, width, height and wheelbase, as well as its interior volume dimensions, are larger than those of Chevrolet Tahoe, and nearly identical to Ford Expedition.  Its standard third seat and rear cargo areas are more spacious than both and Sequoia has a ground clearance of up to 10.6 inches for excellent off-road capability.

Sequoia is built alongside the award winning Tundra pickup at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana.  Sequoia is powered by a modified version of Tundra's 4.7 liter, i-force V8 engine.  The 240 horsepower engine is the first Toyota SUV engine to be EPS certified as an ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV).  It will also deliver an EPA estimated city/highway mileage of 14/18 mpg for two wheel drive models and 14/17 mpg for four wheel drive models.

Standard on all models is a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission.  It is essentially the same unit based on Tundra with minor adjustments for improved performance for use in Sequoia.

Sequoia is available in either two wheel, or multi-mode four wheel drive systems.  The multi-mode four-by-four system allows for the driver to shift from two-high to four-high with a dash mounted switch.

Although based on the Tundra platform, extensive changes were made to the Tundra chassis to realize a level of performance better suited to a full-size sport utility vehicle.

From the B-pillar-forward, Sequoia's chassis is basically the same as that of Tundra.  It utilizes the same cross-member design and fully-boxed ladder frame with the same mounting points for the independent double wishbone suspension.  The major difference, as might be expected, is in front suspension tuning, which aims for a higher level of comfort than that of competitors.

From the B-pillar-back, the differences are more obvious.  Unlike Tundra, the frame rails are fully boxed from front to rear, contributing to a reduction in vibration and harshness.  Most notable in the five-link coil spring rear suspension with rear stabilizer bar.  The new design provides a smoother, quieter, and more comfortable ride with a noticeable improvement in overall handling.

Sequoia will feature as standard equipment two important electronically controlled systems that contribute greatly to its superior level of performance and driver convenience:

  • Vehicle Skid Control
  • Traction Control (TRAC) or Active Traction Control (A-TRAC)

Vehicle skid control (VSC), helps to maintain cornering stability in situations when too much steering input is applied while the vehicle is traveling over poor traction road surfaces, such as loose dirt, pooled water, or ice.  The system automatically reduces engine output and independently applies braking power as necessary to each of the four wheels to help maintain vehicle stability and driver control.  VSC is now standard on both Land Cruiser and 4Runner and will be standard on equipment on both 2WD and 4WD Sequoias.

Traction control is standard on both four wheel and two wheel drive vehicles.  Using the same wheel sensors used for VSC, the four wheel drive A-TRAC system maintains wheel traction on slippery surfaces, by automatically applying brake pressure o each wheel, independently.    A-TRAC adjusts braking influence to individual tire grip at all four corners.

Two wheel drive Sequoia features TRAC, a system similar in operation to A-TRAC, but dedicated to rear wheels only.  One major difference between the two is that the A-TRAC system is full-time, whereas the two-wheel drive TRAC system is defeatable.  This feature gives the TRAC system an added measure of engine torque in sandy or muddy conditions at low speeds.

Driver confidence is further enhanced by standard Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD).  This advanced four-wheel ABS system, along with VSC and A-TRAC, illustrate the priority Toyota has placed on active safety when developing the Sequoia.  But there's another side to safety that was also prioritized and that's passive safety.

The goal, with all elements of passive safety, is to ease the force of impact on driver and passengers.  Sequoia was designed to:

  • absorb and distribute the impact of a collision throughout the entire body and frame
  • provide a high-strength structure, which minimizes deformation of the cab area

On the outside, reinforced front and rear bumpers and a front crush zone were designed to absorb and distribute the impact.  A reinforced upper cabin frame, reinforced rocker support of all four windows pillars, as well as massive door beams, help to maintain cabin integrity , curing a collision.

Inside, Sequoia's passive-safety system is equally comprehensive.  A head impact protection structure has been adopted, running from the front and center pillars, along the entire length of the roof side-panels sections.  The design eases the severity of impact on the occupant's head should it contact these areas as a result of a collision.  Front Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbags are standard equipment on all models.

Additionally, side SRS airbags and curtain-shield side SRS airbags are available as option for the drive and front-passenger seating on all models.  The curtain-shield side SRS airbags are activated when a sensor located in the bottom section of the B-pillar detects side impact.  The curtain-shields side SRS airbags deploy simultaneously with the side torso airbags, propelled by an inflator located in the C-pillar.  The curtain shields are housed in the front pillars and roof side sections and provide protective coverage from the steering wheel to an area behind the front seat headrest.

The most effective form of passive safety is the seat belt.  Sequoia engineers have designed a restraint system that is as practical and useful as it is effective.  Three-point seatbelts are fitted at all eight passenger seating positions.  The driver and front passenger seats feature force limiters and pre-tensioners.  All belts other than the driver's seatbelt are ALR/ELR switchable, allowing easier installation of child seats.  Height adjustable anchors mounted in the pillars are featured for both front seat passengers and both outboard passengers in the second row.

In the second row of seats, the three-point ELR retractor for the center seat belt is housed in the seatback.  The deceleration sensor in the retractor which activates ELR is designed to unlock mechanically when the seat belt is fully retracted.  Since the seatbacks can be reclined, a reclining detection function has been adopted.  This feature maintains the same ELR deceleration speed whether the seat back is reclined or in its full upright position.  

The same functions are featured for the seatbelt at the center position in the third row of seats.  Here, however, the retractor is mounted in the ceiling.  This seat belt can be disconnected and stored in the ceiling when folding, tumbling or removing the third-row seats.  A comfort guide is also provided for the center position seta belt.  The guide is used to pull the seat belt away from the neck and head of shorter passengers.  when not in use, it can be stored into the pocket at the rear of the seat back.

Sequoia's extensive list of passive safety features was designed to integrate will into an attractive interior designed for maximum comfort and convenience.  Sequoia's eight passenger seating features front bucket seats with arm rests.  An eight way adjustable power driver seat is standers on the Limited grade and optional on the SR5.  The second row seats are 60/40 split/fold/recline and tumble.  The third row 50/50 split seats also fold, recline and tumble.  They can also slide, forward and back to adjust either passenger leg room or rear cargo area.  Each rear seat half weighs only 52 pounds and can be easily removed.

Sequoia's controls and displays are arranged for easy access within a stylish front console that was designed with a high quality look and feel.  HVAC, audio and drive mode controls are mounted high, within a compact center cluster which also house primary air vents, clock and hazard light switch.

A multi function floor console flows upward from between the seats into the center cluster housing.  The 1.5 liter console storage box features a double door that includes a memo pad clip.  Dual front and rear cup holders can adapt to containers ranging from small to extra large.  Two 12-volt power outlets are positioned for front passengers, with a third outlet accessible to the second row seat passengers.

On models that are not equipped with the optional power sliding glass moonroof, a full length overhead console is standard.  The console features:

  • five separate storage compartments
  • front and rear personal lights
  • cabin light

The Sequoia's cabin offers a total of 10 cup-holder locations and an abundance of storage possibilities.  All four doors feature deep storage pockets.  Both rear quarter panels feature:

  • an open, deep storage pocket
  • small article compartment with lid
  • dual cup holders
  • twin grocery bag hooks
  • cargo net with hooks

Additionally, a fourth 12-volt power outlet is positioned at the rear of the driver side quarter panel.

Sequoia is available in either SR% or Limited grades.  Major items featured as standard equipment on all models include:

  • power windows, mirrors and door locks
  • three-in-one AM/FM/Cassette/CD with six speakers & power antenna
  • cruise control
  • anti-theft system with immobilizer
  • auto-off headlights
  • automatic climate control

A dual front and rear air conditioning system is standard on the Limited grade and optional on the SR5.  The rear air conditioning unit is positioned in the rear passenger side quarter deck.  Its control panel is located in front of the second row of seats at the rear for the front center console.

Heating and cooling coverage of the dual-zone system can be controlled independently by front and rear passengers or over-ridden and controlled completely at the front seat panel.

The rear cargo area can be accessed by either lifting the rear hatch, or by opening the rear hatch power window.  The window is fully retractable, inside the hatch.  It can be opened and closed with a switch at the driver position, or by inserting the key into the lock at the rear hatch.  For models equipped with wireless remote door locks (standard on Limited/available on SR5) the windows can be operated with the remote key pad.

Other features that are standard on the Limited grade, and available on SR5 include:

  • leather trimmed interior
  • premium JBL stereo with 10 speakers
  • 150 pound capacity adjustable roof rack
  • towing package with receiver hitch and wire harness
  • alloy wheels
  • heated side mirrors

And, an overhead accessory meter cluster, including HomeLink®, wireless-remote/multiple-door opener, compass, fuel consumption including consumption average and range, external temperature and English/Metric conversions.

A few features are exclusive to the Limited grade:

  • color-keyed over-fenders, bumpers, side molding and running boards
  • power retractable side mirrors
  • interior hammer-tone trim
  • heated front seats
  • fog lamps
  • auto on/off headlamps
  • available rear wind deflector

All of the above information is provided by Toyota Motor Company, Inc.