Like its namesake tree, the Toyota Sequoia is massive, stout, and may last 100 years or more. And with its dated interior design and rudimentary modern tech, today's model actually feels ancient when compared to more modern rivals. Even so, exceptional utility, V8 brawn and Toyota's stellar reputation for durability give the Sequoia timeless appeal. And with its upgraded suspension and tough exterior styling, the TRD Pro offers a bit more stability and a lot more attitude.
How does the Sequoia drive?
Think of the Sequoia as a Tundra pickup with three rows and an SUV roof. It's got the same kind of effortless power from its big V8 engine, and that makes it well suited to towing trailers, boats and other toys. It also makes for easy highway passing when it's not pulling a load. That's backed up by our track-measured 0-60 mph time of 7.4 seconds, which is only a few tenths behind the class leader.
At about 6,000 pounds, and with light steering that doesn't have much road feel, the Sequoia isn't our first pick for winding roads. But it's surprisingly agile for its size, and the upgraded TRD Pro suspension should make hill climbs and descents a little more stable and add some confidence to braking maneuvers.
How comfortable is the Sequoia?
All-around comfort and surprising serenity are the Sequoia's main strengths. The seats don't offer much side-to-side support. They're basically just big chairs that provide solid long-haul support. The front seats, however, are limited in adjustments. We do like the Sequoia's plush ride quality. It absorbs impacts and shrugs off smaller bumps not unlike a luxury SUV.
Tire and wind noise is well suppressed, but you'll hear the engine straining when it's working hard. The height-adjustable suspension helps maintain comfort when you're hauling heavy loads. The air conditioning blows strong and cold in the back row, but it's oddly weak up front when all three zones are pumping.
How’s the interior?
The Sequoia feels spacious, but you expect that given its size. Getting into the Sequoia's first two rows requires a step up, but the running boards and grab handles help. The second-row seats tilt and slide, making for easy third-row entry, but getting out requires a limber, deliberate effort, especially for tall adults.
There is plenty of room for heads, arms, elbows and shoulders all around. The downside is that the driver and front passenger will need to stretch to reach the touchscreen and stereo controls. The third row is narrow but offers good adult legroom. It's fine for short trips, but you don't really want more than six adults in this SUV.
How’s the tech?
Next to rival systems, the Sequoia's infotainment is sadly outclassed. The updated 7-inch touchscreen media interface already looks dated, but at least the resolution and response are decent. Device connectivity has been improved by upping the USB port count to three, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available. But functionality was iffy, often freezing or disconnecting during our two weeks with it. Additionally there are four 12-volt ports situated about the cabin for charging devices.
Active safety tech, on the other hand, is fairly comprehensive and it's all standard from the base model on up. Every Sequoia has automatic emergency braking, blind-spot and cross-traffic monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. However, competitors do have things such as lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise that works down to a stop.
How’s the storage?
Utility is the Sequoia's game. Its cargo space, which is helped by two rows of fold-flat seats, is among the largest in the class and is arguably the key reason you buy a Sequoia. With 120.1 cubic feet of maximum space, it's only beat by the Chevrolet Suburban and the Ford Expedition Max.
With seats up, it's still impressive: 67 cubic feet with just the third row folded and 19 cubes of room for groceries with the third row up. A power liftgate enhances the ability to stuff the Sequoia full of gear. Slimmer plastic panels would increase capacity, but it's impressive as it is. The Sequoia offers so many nooks and cubbies that some personal items will disappear forever.
How economical is the Sequoia?
Our 4WD Sequoia TRD Pro gets an EPA-estimated 14 mpg combined (13 city/17 highway). The best tank we saw was 17.9 mpg during a long road trip, averaging about 17.5 mpg of mainly highway miles. Our previously tested TRD Sport, which has the same engine, returned 14.4 mpg on our 115-mile evaluation loop and averaged 13.6 mpg over all of the miles we drove it. That's not particularly impressive, but it is worth noting that we more or less matched its EPA figure, which suggests that the estimate is not overstated. Still, its 4x4 rivals are rated higher. The combined rating of the Ford Expedition 4x4 is 19 mpg, the Chevrolet Tahoe's is 18 mpg and the Dodge Durango's is 17 mpg. Even the chunky Nissan Armada bests the Sequoia with a rating of 15 mpg combined.
Is the Sequoia a good value?
While stout and capable, the Sequoia doesn't quite feel modern enough at this price. The interior feels dated, the updated tech is still below par, and its fuel economy ranks lowest in its class. The Sequoia's cabin materials are outclassed by its rivals too, and hard-touch plastic makes it feel more like a Tundra pickup and less like a more affordable Lexus.
Toyota's record for reliability and high resale value is definitely worth something, and the ownership perks such as free early maintenance are nice to have. If the Sequoia's aging interior design and its excessive thirst for gasoline don't turn you away, then the underlying value proposition gets a bit stronger.
We can't recommend the Sequoia as a first choice; competitors are simply that much newer, nicer and better. But the Sequoia has a few things going for it: primarily massive interior room, a powerful and reliable engine-and-transmission package, oddly satisfying handling, and bulletproof Toyota construction. But compared to the more elegant Expedition, the stately Tahoe or rambunctious Durango, the Sequoia comes off a little boring and bland.
And while there's a bizarre, sadistic pleasure in trying to hustle the Sequoia through curves (excessive body roll means you'll reach its limits soon enough), it's more fun to simply point the Sequoia in a straight line and punch the pedal. It's also a great road-tripper.