Similar in size (albeit a bit larger) to its sibling, the Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota’s three-row full-size Sequoia SUV is a big, capable off-roader with impressive tow numbers. And its competitors are few with Chevy’s Tahoe and Ford’s Expedition being the major players in its class.
Sequoia is offered in SR5, TRD Sport, Limited and Platinum that was tested.
Built on a body-on-frame truck chassis, Sequoia was built for ruggedness and proven reliability. Good luck trying to find a used one as folks who have them, keep them.
Sequoia is a bona fide 8-seater (with a 2nd row bench seat) in that the 3rd row seat can actually hold two adults or three tweens. It’s enabled by 2nd row captain’s chairs (in Platinum trim) that slide well forward with the 3rd row seats actually having respectable leg room.
Upon entering the cockpit after a 13.5-inch step-in from the running boards (or 22 from ground level), you’ll see traits of the original Sequoia with its large HVAC dials that can be manipulated with winter-gloved hands, a huge, robust wooden auto trans shifter that could double as a fancy hammer, and a small 6.1-inch touchscreen that is void of such modern apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - if you really are into those features. But it does offer traffic and weather apps with the latter providing daily and 5-day forecasts. And the interior is exceptionally spacious and airy.
Sequoia’s front perforated leather seats have been substantially upgraded. They’re heavily padded, supportive with extended under thigh support for long distance driving/riding comfort. A huge console box even has facilities to fit upright file folders.
But there are two features you won’t necessarily find on todays competitive large SUVs. One is a differential lock that can be used in 4H or 4L gearing if getting stuck in snow or mud. The other is a driver selectable air suspension system that can increase chassis height by 1.2 inches when off-roading, in high water, mud or deep snow. And that’s enhanced with a standard 10-inch undercarriage clearance.
There’s also a mode switch for selectable Sport and Comfort modes with the former adding a bit more throttle response and higher shift points.
Doors, steering wheel and shifter are all adorned with glossy wood trim for an upscale, classy look.
Captain’s chair second row seats are equally as comfy as the fronts, offering gobs of head and leg room. They’re separated by a huge console box that holds a set of earphones for the overhead Blu-ray video system, plus it can hold a myriad of other items. The heated second row seats slide well forward for easy access to the third row and as said, those are best-in-class leg room wise.
In the cargo area, and with the third row upright, there’s 67 cubic feet of space that measures 14.5 inches deep, 54.5 wide and 34 high. Flip the third row and cargo depth extends to 54 inches and when flipping the second row, there’s a total of 120 cubic feet for 86 inches of cargo depth. That, plus there’s a 6-inch deep bin beneath the aft portion of the cargo floor for small item storage. And, the liftgate has a separate opening gate window, a rarity in todays SUV market that allows hauling extra long items that would otherwise require the entire gate to be opened. Lift over is a high 33 inches plus a 10-inch stretch over the rear bumper and sill.
With almost three tons of steel to move, Sequoia’s 5.7L, V8 can handle it with 381-hp and 401 lb/ft of torque. When coupled to the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, the combination earns EPA mileage estimates of 13 city, 17-highway mpg. It’s certainly not miserly, but consider its size plus it can tow up to 7,400 pounds. The 5.7L is a proven workhorse that makes the effort, effortless.
Shod with tall 20-inch Dunlop tires, Sequoia rides smoothly thanks in part to Platinum’s’ standard air suspension system that adapts to varying road conditions. Parallel parking in a tight spots can be trying as a high hood and long length require deft touches and good spatial judgment. Be nice if Sequoia had a front view camera system in addition to the rear view. Taking sharp turns does produce some body lean and they should be taken slowly since it’s a tall vehicle. Overall, the ride is quiet except for the robust rumble from the big V8 when under heavy throttle.
With a long list of standard features like a sunroof and safety items such as pre-collision system, lane departure warning even a sway warning, the only extra cost item was for carpeted floor mats and sill protector ($373). That, and a delivery charge of $1,295 brought the base price of $67,635 to $69,303. That’s $6,600 less than Toyota’s Land Cruiser which has similar attributes. As such, Sequoia offers good value for the money, especially if you need three row seating, a spacious interior and favorable towing capacity. It’s a proven performer.