The year 2008 saw multiple space shuttle launches, a global financial crisis and a historic U.S. election. It was also the first model year of the second-generation Toyota Sequoia. Unveiled at the November 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show, the all-new full-size SUV replaced the outgoing first-generation truck that was produced from 2001-2007.
In case your math is rusty, that was a dozen years ago! Aside from some engine and trim changes — and a mild refresh in 2017 — it has soldiered on unchanged.
With an all-new SUV expected in 2022, is there much left in the 2020 Sequoia’s tank? Well, we’ve been driving the latest 2020 TRD Pro trim, so here are five good things about the stalwart Sequoia — and five bad things.
Good: Three-row cool
As a parent of three kids, I can say with confidence it’s hard to find a “cool” three-row vehicle. For the anti-minivan crowd, that essentially leaves mid-size and full-size SUVs. Few, if any, have the off-road look of the TRD Pro. Parked next to my JK Wrangler, it looked just as beefy and capable. Along with the fantastic Army Green paint, the 18-inch BBS wheels, Rigid LED lighting, and TRD Fox Shocks give the TRD Pro some additional off-road cool.
Bad: Wide boy
Although it looked absolutely massive next to my wife’s Mercedes GL450. At nearly 80-inches wide the Sequoia isn’t any wider than the competition — the Chevy Suburban is about the same width, as is the Ford Expedition. However, when you start to look at the mid-size crowd, the Durango, Explorer and Toyota’s Highlander are all significantly narrower. So you’ll need to decide if the extra size is worth it depending on your driving needs. I can say the Sequoia was quite challenging to drive on narrow D.C. streets.
Good: Chunky controls
The Sequoia’s big-truck controls are easy to read, and their large size makes them easily accessible on the move. The format can be a bit endearing, depending on how you look at it. It harkens back to classic Toyota SUVs like the Land Cruiser that my parents drove a then-newborn-me home from the hospital in quite a few years ago.
Bad: Clunky controls
The Sequoia’s big-truck controls also look their age unfortunately. In an era where the latest trucks and SUVs have massive screens and updated technology, the Sequoia’s interior bits are the most obvious sign of the 12 year old platform. It’s clear that elements were cobbled together over time, the heated seat and rear AC controls look tacked on below the HVAC knobs. The power rear hatch button is also hidden in an odd place (not on the hatch itself).
Good: Smooth cruising
For an off-road focused trim, the TRD Pro rides quite well. My wife noted she was impressed on a long drive at how quiet and smooth things were. Perhaps they were a bit too smooth and quiet, which resulted in my first moving violation in about 15 years — 74 mph in 60-mph zone, if I recall correctly. Ironically, it happened in the big green SUV instead of the yellow Acura NSX that was in my driveway the week prior. The big V-8, while showing its age, gets up to speed quickly and will cruise at illegal speeds for hours in impressive comfort.
Bad: Pricey cruising
That easy speed will cost you though, the pairing of the big 5.7-liter V-8 and aging 6-speed automatic transmission netting an unimpressive 13 mph city and 17 mph highway rating. I imagine the updated Sequoia and Tundra will be available with smaller, more efficient engines for their next generation.
Good: Standard safety stuff
Like most new Toyotas, you get the impressive Toyota Safety Sense suite of tech. In the Sequoia, that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure alert, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and auto high beams. Considering its size, that was some welcomed technology during my week with the Sequoia.
Bad: La-Z-Boy seats
I know, big trucks are supposed to have big comfy seats, but the complete lack of side bolstering in the TRD Pro was unideal. I would imagine that, especially on a bumpy mountain trail, you might end up in the passenger seat if it weren’t for the seat belts. Since we are fat Americans, perhaps just some inflatable side bolsters might do the trick.
Good: Pretty good value
The base price on our TRD Pro test vehicle was $64,030 ($66,129 as tested), which sounds high, but it lives in a pricey SUV segment. Once you start adding up what’s standard, and the amount of overall performance that you get for the price, it’s pretty solid. The late-in-life additions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto help make the aging infotainment tech a bit easier to swallow. Plus, Toyota technically owns the “big 3-row off-road” market as it’s the only one (right?).
Bad: Can’t hide its age
In the end, I found myself pricing out TRD Pro Sequoia’s, but I don’t know if I could pull the trigger on one. With most vehicle generations lasting around 5years, having a platform that has been around for more than a decade has a lot of downsides. The TRD Pro trim level makes it a bit more likely to snag some buyers looking for that 3-row off-roader look, but the SUV world is likely waiting anxiously for a 3rd generation Sequoia!