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Toyota Sequoia Not So Good For The Trees

Posted by: David Kiley on November 15, 2007

Let me just say before I go into this that Toyota, because of its emphasis on quality and “green” technology, the company has a target on its back when it falls short in either department.

At this week’s LA Auto Show, Toyota took the wraps off its new Sequoia SUV. It is bigger and thirstier than the old model. Huh? Toyota?

The SUV weighs 500 pounds more than the old version, in addition to being larger. Fuel economy for the 4.7 liter V8 engine has slipped to an estimated 13 mpg during city driving and 16 mpg on highway, compared with 15 mpg and 17 mpg on highway for the old model. The behemoth also comes in a 5.7 liter V8 that gets 13 city/19 highway in the 2-wheel model. That noses ahead of Ford’s Expedition, which gets 12/18 and an average of 14. But let’s face it…in a vehicle that big, that’s a wash. The Chevy Tahoe gets 14/20, and the new hybrid version gets 21/22. That’s a big difference on a percentage basis.

What does this prove? That Toyota can make a gas guzzling, overdone, slug of an SUV as well as anyone.

Toyota says that the added utility, space and power in the new model is worth the small dip in fuel economy. I would say, though, that when you have four to five years in between models, a company ought to be able to improve fuel economy from one generation of product to the next. How about at least installing cylinder deactivation that will allow the SUV to cruise at 4 cylinders instead of eight?

It seems to me that if you are a brand like Toyota that has been building a lot of its brand equity around fuel economy, then there should be a premium placed on fuel economy in every vehicle you bring out.

GM has research that shows that a clear majority of consumers believe GM is part of the problem when it comes to climate change and pollution. By contrast, a clear plurality of the same people view Toyota as “part of the solution.”

You can’t argue against what people think…what’s in their minds when they look at cars and trucks. GM has been tagged by the Hummer H2, while Toyota has been tagged with its Prius. Which model seems to be more in keeping with the way the culture and car buying universe is headed?

Toyota has done a great service by pushing the Prius, and its hybrid technology into vehicles like the Camry, Highlander, Lexus RX. But it’s getting time for consumers to get beyond their perceptions and really look at the numbers.

Toyota has been a leader in fuel economy as it is measured by Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (actually Honda is ahead of Toyota). But that’s because it has been going with its strengths of concentrating on cars and only a few big vehicles like the Land Cruiser. When people wanted trucks and SUVs, they went to GM, Ford and Chrysler, because they made the best ones, and still do for my money.

So, if I can use an analogy…GM and Ford have been in the steak and fried food business, while Toyota has been in the fish and tofu business. But now Toyota wants to get into the steak and onion rings business with a bigger Sequoia and Tundra pickup, not to mention the very thirsty Land Cruiser and 4Runner they have sold for years. GM, meantime, is putting more fish and tofu on its menu. Pretty soon, we won’t be able to tell the difference between the two companies in terms of the menu offerings.

But we ought not to think Toyota’s steak and onion rings are healthier than GM’s and Ford’s because they have more fish on their menu. They aren't.

Reader Comments


November 16, 2007 2:18 PM

I suppose one could say that when the NEWEST Tundra was designed a couple of years back, gas prices were somewhat lower. Ditto the latest Sequoia. It is easy enough for a well-coddled scribe to sit before his word processor and criticize--well after the fact as it happens. Recall how the T-100 was knocked because it was a bit smaller than the Silverado, then along came Tundra #1, a vastly superior vehicle, only to meet with the same comments. Tundra #2 is huge, just as are others in its class, and it getting heat for its size.

And by the way, where is the fish and tofu you claim GM is offering? In the mini-gains in fuel 'economy' of their high-priced hybrids? Good Grief man. You need some time off--again.

John Harris

November 16, 2007 5:53 PM

People need these machines to safely move their stuff like boats, and campers. They also want them for comfort. The difference in fuel consumption between a high quality Indiana built Sequoia, and a Yugo could be an unnecessary trip to Walmart to buy crap you don't need anyway. I own a 4 Runner and a motorcycle. The combined average fuel usage of these two vehicles is likely 35 miles per gallon. The point is your total personal usage is more important than a mpg number. By the way the Sequoia won the JD Power best quality behemoth suv award this year.

Andrew Thiessen

November 16, 2007 9:55 PM

This man speaks truth. I Want to hear what people will say to say when the Chevy Volt is the most environmentally friendly vechical on the road, not the Prius.


November 19, 2007 10:08 AM

Honda is the only "green" car company, in my opinion. They don't make the biggest, thirstiest SUVs or trucks. Their CAFE average is very high. They blow Toyota our of the water.

I think the new Sequoia is ugly. The old one was pretty good looking.

As for GM, it's hybrid Tahoe is all well and good, but they haven't said how much it's going to cost. And sales are unknown, obviously.

At least one Toytoa hybrid sells in volume. Sales of the Prius are unbelievable. Any vehicle, hybrid or not, that sells 150K+ is a hit. The fact that they sell that many hybrids is a real achievment. I'll cut them a break on selling a few Sequoias.


November 19, 2007 11:10 AM

4Runner, very thirsty?
Hmmm. I have a 2005 4Runner Sport V6 4WD that averages 20MPG in mixed driving (I usually get ~22MPG highway). I would not term it 'very thirsty' being that it is a mid-size true SUV.
Land Cruiser, yes; 4Runner, no.
I do agree that Toyota should have upped the MPG capabilities of the new Tundra and Sequoia.
Just my .02.


November 19, 2007 4:40 PM

Wouldn't they have been more sensible producing an all wheel drive, 2 liter hybrid, thus addressing the mass market?


November 19, 2007 6:16 PM

You must be drinking the Detroit Kool Aid. Once Toyota develops the Litium-ion System for the Hybrids and they put that system in with the 4.7l or 5.7l and get about 28-30mpg. What will Detroit's excuse be then?


November 19, 2007 8:42 PM

G, not to come down on you like a ton of Democratic Wisdom (shit), no 2 litre engine of any design however blown would meet the 'power requirements' of the typical American audience. For the non-US market, perhaps. And if you are aware of the engine choices of the various non-American manufacturers for their branded vehicles in our market, this should be crystal clear.

We (Mrkns) are widely viewed (by the other inhabitants of our globe) as power-hungry/rubber-burning/straight-line acceleration/gaz-swilling morons. I can buy that, have accumulated stock in this thinking for years now. The capital gains are fantastic, and taxable. But supporting the mindless bureaucrats is against my religion--no sale.


November 20, 2007 5:07 AM

It is really necessary to make such big vehicles wherein lot of energy is consumed and affecting our ecosystem.

dave logan

November 20, 2007 8:28 AM

I've purchased 3 full-size GM SUVs since 2001 and fuel economy was never a serious consideration factor. I based my decision on the vehicle's looks, utility and prestige. The Toyota and Nissan are both ugly to look at, as evidenced by how many more Escalade/Yukon/Suburbans you see on the road. I was also surprised to see how overpriced they were. In addition, I've heard complaints about the quality of the full size Nissan products.
Now that fuel prices have increased, I will be considering fuel economy. Again, the GM brands look like the obvious choice, presuming the hybrid's fuel economy is as high as advertised.
btw - each GM vehicle has performed very well and each has been very reliable.


November 20, 2007 9:45 AM

quote from John Harris:
"I own a 4 Runner and a motorcycle. The combined average fuel usage of these two vehicles is likely 35 miles per gallon."

I like your statment. The combination of usage is more important than the number of MPG.

Sequoia sell is just small number of Toyota. It should not be counted. How many Camry sold every year? How many Corolla sold every year? And look the number sold vehicle of GM then compare. How many Cobalt and Malibu GM sold?


November 21, 2007 7:56 PM

I've noticed a considerable anti TOYOTA in this site, but that aside, TOYOTA has shareholders who need dividends. Selling hybrids only wont cut it after all America's top selling vehicles are not the camry accord but F150.


November 22, 2007 4:56 PM

Toyota make Detroit feel better releasing Sequoia. My god...
Well, just take look in this picture


November 22, 2007 9:30 PM

Well, where do I even start in pointing out how most of you bloggers got it wrong? Basically, it's like this, both GM and Toyota are developing lithium ion battery technology for their plug-in/hybrid vehicles. Both are testing different variations of the technology, GM using the type of battery found in latest cordless power tools and Toyota using the same type found in cell phone and labtops. As for the claim that Toyota vastly outsells GM in the mid-size sedan market is incorrect. In global sales, it's a close call, especially in China. As for apples and oranges comparison of GM trucks and Toyota, things will lvel out when the new diesel engines are introduced and gas milage will improve in all models.


November 24, 2007 8:11 PM

Dave Logan is exactly the kind of buyer that should be taken out back and shot. Basing a purchase on 'looks, utility, and prestige' is so American that it reeks of illogic and a need for ego-buffing. GM has been very good at that and little else for decades now, and this behavior has finally caught up with the company. The process is sinking their rusty olde tub of nonsense, Ford's as well.

Thiessen, the Volt is a fraud. Or put another way, a Short Circuit. Just another styling exercise and attention-getter, oh so typical of GM ever since the thirties. All this hype and as yet there are no batteries!!! Good grief man, wake up and smell the GM bullshit!

And Rahu, no there is no pressing need for so many HUGE SUVs and pickups. None at all. Most run around nearly empty of passengers and/or with beds of aire, not cargo. This whole scam is a combo of ego-burnishing and (once) colossal profits. All fed by once-cheap gas.


November 26, 2007 2:08 AM

Sequoia has a plain and boring look. If I want to burn fuel, I want something look good on the road to justify $4/gallon.

Christopher Price

December 18, 2007 7:24 PM

I want to point out the fact that the EPA have changed their estimated fuel ratings to reflect normal driving. This is another reason that "MPG" has gone down. For example the prius was rated at 60mpg now with the new standards it is rated at 48mpg.


March 31, 2008 5:17 PM

hybride is only good in city,wy everybody make a big deal whit hybride,this is no good for me wy you dont just call the city car,or just take the bus,,dont forget hybrid use more energy if you have your radio,ac,heater etc,on..dont forget if the fuel was 1,50 g,,nobody tack about save the planet,big truck bla bla bla,,just because you have some green wanabe the first thing count is money not green,,,yes suport green bull shit..suporte my walet..


April 14, 2008 11:52 PM

mmm when toyota develop the lithion ion batter nothing will happen with there truck and suv (well full size) because toyota hybrid system operate in a way that to make a hybrid truck they need a big electric motor and it doesn't fit in the truck ... because gm system use 2 electric motor gm system could fit any truck car ..
but if toyota want to make a hybrid truck it better call gm ,,, gm could easy sell them there 2 mode hybrid system . lol

I hate this article

July 13, 2009 6:42 PM

So, if I can use an analogy…GM and Ford have been in the steak and fried food business, while Toyota has been in the fish and tofu business. But now Toyota wants to get into the steak and onion rings business with a bigger Sequoia and Tundra pickup, not to mention the very thirsty Land Cruiser and 4Runner they have sold for years. GM, meantime, is putting more fish and tofu on its menu. Pretty soon, we won’t be able to tell the difference between the two companies in terms of the menu offerings.


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