But is the 2018 Toyota Sequoia worth the gas guzzle?

Ted Laturnus: The 2018 Toyota Sequoia seamlessly blends upscale features with practicalityMore than once over the years, I’ve wondered why people buy full-size SUVs. Behemoths like the Ford Expedition, Chevy Suburban, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia and so on. Nine times out of 10, I reasoned, people don’t need a vehicle of this size and never really use it to its full potential. In my opinion, these big boys are oversized, unnecessary and usually overpriced.

But after spending a couple of weeks with the Toyota Sequoia, I changed my tune – for the most part.

I still maintain that most full-size SUV owners could probably get by just as well with something smaller and more efficient. But if you need something with plenty of cargo space, haul a trailer or spend a lot of time on the highway with the occasional off-road foray, rigs like the Sequoia make pretty good sense.

Available in three trim levels, the 2018 Toyota Sequoia weighs in at a hefty three tons (2,720 kg). All three versions are powered by a 5.7-itre V8 engine that develops 381 horsepower and, more importantly perhaps, 401 foot-pounds of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only choice, and all Sequoias feature a “one touch” four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case and a centre differential lockup. This is not a down-and-dirty boulder-hopper, mind, but if things get weird off-road or the pavement turns to mush, it can handle itself, to a point.

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But the Sequoia’s real forté is highway cruising. The V8 engine is a paragon of smoothness, versatility and flat-out raw power. For such a big bruiser, the Sequoia can get up and go nicely, and at 100 km/h, the engine barely ticks over at about 1,800 rpm. You’ll look long and hard to find a better highway cruiser than this one.

That said, it’s thirsty, and with the price of gas being what it is, that’s something to consider. During my time with the Sequoia, which included many hours of highway cruising as well as the usual urban back and forth, I averaged between 5.3 litres/100 km to 6.3 litres/100 km. It was particularly voracious during highway mountain climbing, and I sometimes felt like I was spending half of my time filling up at gas stations.

But does this thing have some serious elbow room. With all the seats folded flat, there are 3,400 litres (120 cubic feet) of cargo room in the back, and with all seats upright, eight adults can fit comfortably. By comparison, a 2018 Chevy Suburban has 3,446 litres (121.7 cubic feet), while the 2018 Ford Expedition has 2,961 litres (104.6 cubic feet). To combat the astronomical price of fuel, you could rent this thing out as a bed and breakfast as a side hustle.

And for those who care about these things, the Sequoia has a 7,000-pound (3175-kg) towing capacity.

On a practical level, I used the 2018 Toyota Sequoia to schlep all the gear used by a rock trio on a three-day road trip, and it accommodated drum kit, amps, mike stands, speakers, monitors, sound boards and all the rest with room to spare. My only quibble here is that it’s perched so high that getting the heavier bits in and out is a bit of a struggle. That said, I doubt if Toyota’s designers envisioned the 2018 Toyota Sequoia being used to haul music gear around the countryside.

Let’s not forget creature comforts. In a word, this thing is loaded. A few items for your consideration: heated seats, backup camera, three-zone climate control system, transmission oil temperature gauge, illuminated entry, tire pressure monitor and, on the upper-range Platinum model, ventilated front seats, steering-wheel-mounted audio and HVAC controls, 14-speaker sound system and heated middle row seats, among other things.

In every respect, the 2018 Toyota Sequoia is an upscale vehicle, despite its practical abilities.

I still think that some drivers could do just as well with something a little smaller, but, for others, size definitely matters.

2018 Toyota Sequoia at a glance

Engine: 5.7-litre V8
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drive: RWD/4WD
Horsepower: 381 hp at 5,600 rpm
Torque: 401-foot pound at 3,600 rpm
Price range: $60,000 to $75,000
Fuel economy: 18.4 L /100 km (city) and 13.8 (highway); regular fuel

Some 2018 alternatives: Chevrolet Suburban, Nissan Armada, Ford Expedition, Chev Tahoe

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist Of The Year twice and is past president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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