Notable features: In lengthening the wheelbase by 4 inches, Toyota created a third-row seat that is practical and accessible for adults. The rear door swings 77 degrees wide. The wheel arch boundary is narrower, easing entrance and exit. The third-row seats have power fold up-down buttons in two locations.
The second-row seats slide and recline and have a one-touch feature for getting into the third row. The center seat also can slide forward, so a front-row occupant can tend more easily to a baby in a child seat.
Standard safety features include side-curtain airbags for all three rows, antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, traction control and stability control, and an automatic limited-slip differential.
What Toyota says: "Our goal was to create a vehicle capable of delivering top-level comfort, quiet and convenience, and effortless functionality over a long distance," said Motoharu Araya, chief engineer of the Sequoia, at the media introduction here.
Compromises and shortcomings: The Sequoia's shared parts with the Tundra include many interior bits and pieces. Some of them are acceptably cheap and plasticky in a pickup but have no business in an SUV that approaches $50,000 fully loaded.
The market: Toyota has sold more than 370,000 Sequoias since the SUV launched seven years ago. But the market has plummeted: The peak U.S. sales year for large SUVs was 2001, at 786,484 units. Last year, that market dropped to 529,695 units. Yet Toyota still expects the Sequoia's sales volume to grow over that of its predecessor.
The skinny: The Sequoia was too small when buyers wanted big. But with oil pushing $100 a barrel, has Toyota gone too big? Executives think customers will always need a big SUV to haul their boats, motorcycles or horses. Toyota has a tough task in stealing share from the segment's domestic leaders.