Much like it’s platform mate, the Toyota Tundra, the Sequoia is pretty old for a new vehicle. The Tundra Platinum that CrewMax that we just tested is riding on a second generation XK50 platform that’s been around since 2007! That means it was back when Rihanna and Jay-Z were singing about an umbrella (ella…ella…) that Toyota introduced the then-new Tundra and later that year started producing the second generation Sequoia as well. So the Sequoia Limited that we just drove for a week is going on a decade old at this point. Has it aged gracefully, or should you pass and go with a younger model?
The 4×4 2019 Sequoia Limited that Toyota graciously dropped off at my house starts at $60,570, which is pretty comparable to the other body-on-frame crowd of big SUVs like the Tahoe, Yukon, etc. You can drop to $57,345 starting MSRP for the non-4×4 version. The Limited is basically in the bottom of the top half of the Sequoia lineup; both the entry-level SR5 starting at $52,075, and the TRD Sport at $54,790 sit below it and the more upscale Platinum comes in more expensive at $67,785 to start.
What you get inside a Sequoia is decidedly truck-like. The layout, particularly in area surrounding the gear lever, is almost identical to that of the Tundra. As are the clunky utilitarian knobs and switches moving up the center stack. Like many Toyota’s, what you get is functional, if not aesthetically arousing. Even the interiors on the Chevy and GMC competitors are decidedly a bit more pleasing to the eye, but this certainly leaves room for Toyota to update the Sequoia’s interior for the next generation.
As I noted, everything is quite functional and the Sequoia would make a great daily driver for a larger family who wants to avoid the minivan. The seats were comfortable on longer drives and the cargo area is fairly plentiful, even with the rear seats in place. I would rate the cargo room behind the 3rd row as better than average, but obviously a bit less than you would get in the extended versions of the GM vehicles (Suburban and Yukon XL).
The rear seats fold flat in the 60/40 third row and the middle row drops in a 40/20/40 configuration. Or they would, but our test truck had the $300 optional second row Captain’s Chairs. I’m a big fan of those, you lose a seat, but gain better access to the third row.
Our tester was light on options, similar to the Tundra, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It comes pretty well equipped for the price, but one option that our Shoreline Blue Pearl truck did have was the $1,920 rear-seat Blue-Ray entertainment system. It’s fairly basic compared to some of the more recent screens that offer passengers headrest-based touchscreens, like the latest Chrysler Pacifica. But it works and should keep those little bastards quiet.
The Premium JBL Synthesis Sound System was pretty solid as well and will run you $1,250. It all sounds pretty great together when a T-Rex comes crashing through a fence.
I’ve always fancied the Sequoia from the outside. It’s a big SUV, but curvy in the right places. That felt awkward to type, I’m sorry. SUVs always used to be boxy, and some still are; but the recent design trends primarily feature a more sloping rear roof line. Objectively, that ends up compromising rear storage and headroom, subjectively it looks like a large i-beam fell on the back end of the vehicle. the Sequoia blends the curve and the straight edge admirably well, I’m interested to see how the next generation looks.
Up front you get the requisite chrome that’s required on all pseudo-luxury vehicles. Not my favorite, but it’s tolerable. The Sequoia retains some of the truck-like demeanor with a big ole Toyota badge and imposing face. The LED headlights give an old platform some new bling. Or whatever the kids call shiny stuff these days.
The biggest surprise I came across while driving the Sequoia was that it feels smaller and more nimble than it’s exterior belies. I went to make a u-turn on a fairly narrow street and assumed this would turn into an Austin Powers moment of multi-point turns. Instead the big Toyota just whipped around and kept going. If you do need to do some suburban mall crawling, the Sequoia’s big tires and solid ground clearance will make quick work of most curbs and sidewalks. I’ll admit to turning into the wrong parking lot once during my week with the SUV and ended up at a bank vs. a liquor store. Not wanting to rob either, and also trying to avoid pulling back out on the busy main road, I just hopped the curb and parked in the correct lot. Not exactly the Baja 1000, but the big girl can drive over some shit.
Similarly, merging onto highways is pretty easy with the large 5.6L V8. I wouldn’t take her autocrossing, but the Sequoia felt pretty stable at speed and around mild bends.
Toyota doesn’t sell a ton of Sequoia’s. It’s somewhere in the 11,000-12,000 range over the last five years here in the U.S. By contrast, Chevy sold over 100,000 Tahoe’s last year and cousin GMC sold around 75,000 Yukon’s. That’s likely due to it’s aging design, Toyota is definitely due for something new. Expect it to come around the same time we see the new 2021 Tundra. In the meantime, the current Sequoia doesn’t feel quite as good as the latest from GM and Ford. But if you want a reliable, truck-like full size SUV, the Sequoia is still pretty great.