2019 Toyota Sequoia Limited 4×4
5.7-liter V8, DOHC (381 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm)
Six-speed automatic transmission, four wheel drive
13 city / 17 highway / 14 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
18.4 city / 13.8 highway / 16.4 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)15.1 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $61,715 US / $70,237 CAD
As Tested: $63,638 US/ $70,237 CAD
Prices include $1295 destination charge in the United States and $1,947 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
Do you remember 2008? I do. I was six years into a career in sales with a Fortune 500 company that I figured I’d retire from. I had an 18-month-old daughter, with a second on the way toward the end of the year. I had a shiny silver Motorola Razr cell phone, though some of my colleagues were gushing about a newfangled device from Apple that married a phone with an iPod.
Well, I now have two daughters in and around their teen years, each of whom have a smartphone fancier than that first iPhone. I’ve moved around to a few different sales careers, supplementing my income (to pay for those daughters and their data plan) by writing. Things change.
Except at Toyota, it seems, as they are still making the 2019 Toyota Sequoia with very few changes since the waning days of the Bush administration. But people keep buying them, so there must be a reason for it.
It’s big. It’s old. It’s thirsty. Yes, I’m well aware that all three of those could describe your author as well, but these fine pages won’t pay for a review of a used 1978-model Ohioan. Maybe the term that best describes the Sequoia is trusty. While the competition moves toward smaller turbocharged engines and transmissions with eight to ten gears, this twin-cam V8 and six-speed automatic have been reliable motivators for Toyota trucks and SUVs for more than a decade.
381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque are still competitive, moving this big hauler down the road with no drama. Depending on trim, the Sequoia will tow up to 7,400 pounds – my tester, with four-wheel drive, is rated for 7,100 pounds.
The Sequoia still drives like the full-size truck upon which it’s based. The steering is numb, almost disconnected from the road. The brake pedal has a long, soft travel. This is not a rig you drive to hustle down back roads – it’s happiest on the interstate, eating up the miles and the 87 octane.
The ride quality is quite good, considering a curb weight just shy of three tons. Credit the well-damped independent rear suspension, which swallows the ever-present potholes and expansion joints with aplomb. After the typical sister fight over God knows what, I banished the oldest to the third row. It wasn’t the punishment that I’d hoped for, as she had plenty of room to stretch and text in peace. The second row in my tester was fitted with optional captain’s chairs, which were nearly as comfortable as the fronts.
Toyota has updated some bits throughout the car – a smallish 6.1-inch touchscreen for navigation and audio would have been really weird in 2008, after all – and the Toyota Safety Sense-P suite of safety features (blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision, automatic braking, lane departure alert, and adaptive cruise control) are welcome additions to make those long highway cruises just a bit easier. The row of five large control knobs across the center of the dash looks dated, but they are self-explanatory to use, rather than diving into menus on a massive touchscreen just to change fan speeds.
It’s a trope that I’m both annoyed by and guilty of writing – the frequent complaints of cheap, hard plastics in the interiors of many different vehicles. My notes from driving this Sequoia mention the plastics. Indeed, the interior is cheap feeling, but a chance ride in an older Sequoia reminded me of the merits of that hard plastic. That eight-or-so year old SUV had its share of scuffs on panels inside and out, evidence of a life spent hauling a little bit of everything and everyone – but that interior had held up beautifully. No squeaks or rattles save the random kids’ toy rolling from the third row. No trim bits falling off after a too-hard door slam from a moody teen that had been banished to the back row.
I’ve no doubt that a new Sequoia will be a perfectly solid truck at the end of the loan term, which is not a statement I can make about everything on the road.
It’s easy to dump on the Toyota Sequoia as a dinosaur. It’s certainly not the right choice for me and my family – I have no need to tow anything, it’s too thirsty, and it’s a bit ponderous to park in the urban environments I frequently encounter. But for those who need the space and capacity, it’s a choice that should prove to be a long-term family companion.
[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]