Pulling the Weight, Sequoia Meets the Challenge

  • The trailer test vehicle was the Sequoia Toyota Limited with 5.7L V8 gasoline engine, 4WD.
  • It handled my 5,000-pound boat flawlessly at the ramp and on the road.
  • While towing, the instant mileage readout varied from 9 to 14 mpg, depending on conditions and speed.

By Mike Schoonveld

The Sequoia is Toyota’s entry into the full-size SUV market.

For us guys with boats that sit on trailers between fishing excursions, the major “toy” between our boat and the lake is the vehicle to which the trailer connects. The size of the boat dictates what size of the tow vehicle is required, of course, but for most Great Lakes work, the vehicles need to be somewhat substantial.

 The Toyota Sequoia that I used to tow my boat from my Indiana home to Kenosha, Wisconsin and then to Put-In-Bay, Ohio last May was substantial, whether I was hauling over gravel-packed two-tracks or six-lane expressways. The Sequoia Toyota for this test was the Limited model, fitted with a 5.7L V8 engine and 4WD, adequate to pull my boat from algae-coated boat ramps. Equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission, this full-sized SUV ran through the “gears” effortlessly whether going uphill or down, on the highway, or in stop and go traffic on Chicago’s Fullerton Avenue heading for Diversey Harbor (long story why that trip was included).

As are most vehicles these days, the Sequoia is fully equipped with bells and whistles, lane change alarms, driving sensors to detect if you are driving unsafely or the guy in front of you is driving unsafely, Bluetooth connections – in short, more on-board “toys” and other features than I was able to figure out how to use during my trip. I wasn’t so much interested in the bells or whistles, I was more interested in how it handled my 5000-pound boat (and how my 5000-pound boat handled the vehicle) in real-life driving conditions.  Rated to tow more than 7000 pounds, the Sequoia pulled my rig just fine.

I was also more interested in how it handled the gear and luggage I needed for extended trips away from home, especially when traveling with other anglers or a family group and our luggage. The coolers we hoped to fill with salmon and walleye fillets went in the boat. The rest of our duffle easily stored inside with a bit of short planning. The second-row bucket seats added some interior room since we could stow items between the seats as well as in the rear.  Once the luggage was removed, a third-row seat folded out of the floor allowing our whole group of six to head for The Brat Stop in Kenosha for dinner.

The Sequoia model that I tested handled my boat flawlessly at the ramp and on the road.

All in all, the Sequoia is certainly a viable tow vehicle and any on-the-go Great Lakes angler should consider it when it’s time to upgrade. I certainly will. Rated 13 to 17 mpg on the mileage meter, it’s in the same league as other comparable brands and models.

If there was one item to pick at on the Sequoia I tested, it was the gas-gauge/gas tank capacity. For one, the tank capacity is 26 gallons. Pulling the boat, my instant mileage readout on the dash varied from 9 to 14 mpg depending on conditions and speed so about 10 to 12 actual.  Not bad, but with that size tank, regular stops for gas is going to be required. (My regular tow vehicle gets the same mileage, but has a 42-gallon tank.)

On my trip to Ohio, I knew the next travel plaza was just ahead and a few miles before getting there, the low fuel warning light came on. We made it more than easily since the pump kicked off when 20 gallons were added.  I’m sure once more familiar with the accuracy of the fuel level indicator, the smaller tank would be less disconcerting.

You can check out the Sequoia online (in various editions) at www.toyota.com.