2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum review: Big…on everything

2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum

2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum

The seats say it all about the Toyota Sequoia: They’re big, wide and comfy. Everything else beyond that point is just details. So if you’re after the veriest of very basics you can stop reading now. On the other hand, we’ll bet you’d like to know more, so here goes.

The 2009 Toyota Sequoia is the second generation of this full-sized sport-utility vehicle. Gen one arrived in 2000 followed by the current generation beginning with the 2008 model year. The second generation is bigger than the first and more powerful with a choice of V-8 engines, with a standard 4.7-liter or an all-new for 2008 5.7-liter V-8 shared with the Toyota Tundra.

The new 5.7-liter has dual overhead camshafts, each independently variable to optimize valve timing and hence power, maxing at a hearty 381 horsepower with a trailer-tugging 401 lb-ft of torque. Did someone mention trailering? The Sequoia can be configured to tow 10,000 pounds, its trailer hitch integrated into the frame as a single unit. That’s five tons, for those who are counting. We earlier had a chance to tow a large boat trailer—complete with boat—with a 5.7-liter-equipped Sequoia and will confirm that it justifies its existence for those with towing on their agenda.

2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum dash

The 2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum dash looks big…and of course, it is. (click to enlarge)

Part of the 5.7-liter’s capability comes from a new for ’08 smooth-shifting six-speed heavy-duty transmission with a tow/haul mode. For extra mileage this transmission has lock-up in four and fifth gears as well as sixth. Our tester also came with four-wheel drive, controlled by a twist-knob on the dash.

Our test 2009 Toyota Sequoia was a top-of-the-line Platinum, outfitted almost well enough to rival Toyota’s senior partner, the center stack in glossy piano black with the driver’s control area in silver metallic with chrome-color rings around the Optitron gauges. The remainder of the dash was finished in a rich-looking pebble-grain plastic with a moderately soft-touch feel.

Leather-trimmed seating is standard on all three rows in the Platinum trim level. The front seats are heated and air-conditioned and the second row heated.

2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum third-row seat

The 2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum third-row seat is best left to the kids. (click to enlarge)

The middle row is a pair of individual seats, and grading on the curve we’ll give them a B+ to the front row’s A. However, the third row, nominally seating three, is only a well-upholstered step above steerage for anyone approaching average adult proportions. The seat cushions are hard and flat and even with the adjustable second row seats moved forward, leg room is at a premium. A recline feature for the third row is poor comfort. Our advice: Save this wayback for the kids.

The rear seatbacks do power-fold, however, for easier cargo loading. That’s good because cargo room is limited behind the third row seats. The liftgate on the Platinum level is power operated and the rear window opens, with “express” up and down. We’re not certain why the Sequoia has this feature—we’ve always been told that driving with the rear window open can draft exhaust into the cabin—but it’s there for whom it’s needed.

A navigation system is standard on the Sequoia Platinum, the screen also used for the backup camera which is angled to make hooking up a trailer easier. We tried it. It’s true.

2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum

2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum (click to enlarge)

The comfy interior is a matched by an un-truck-like (if not car-like) ride, even with the adjustable suspension set on “sport.” Don’t let “sport” mislead. The ride is comfortable enough to leave on all the time. It’s due largely to the all-new for 2008 fully independent suspension with upper and lower A-arms at each end, replacing the truckish-ride producing live rear axle. However at no time should the handling be considered “sporty.” It goes around corners like the tall vehicle it is.

All Sequoias are equipped with the full range of safety equipment offered on all Toyota SUVs, including stability control, traction control on both two and four-wheel drive models, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist. All Sequoias are equipped with driver and front passenger side airbags with full-length roll over-activated side curtain airbags.

The EPA rates the 2009 Toyota Sequoia fuel mileage with the 5.7-liter V-8 at 13/18 mpg city/highway. During the Sequoia’s stay with us, we recorded 14.9 mpg on the trip meter for mixed ex-urban driving. It’s hardly a fuel economy king but considering the Toyota Sequoia’s bulk and indeed its capabilities, it’s a not unimpressive number.

Summing up the 2009 Toyota Sequoia Platinum is going to sound like a local low-budget
TV ad: Big on size, big on comfort, and able to do big things. Oh, and did we mention it has big seats?

Photos by Toyota.