For many just east of the Rockies, the idea of a crossover or car is quaint, but not realistic. Some of us out here need the very real capabilities of a true SUV. That’s where big family haulers like the 2019 Toyota Sequoia come in.
There are crossovers and then there are sport utility vehicles. An SUV is can be best described as a truck with more seating. These utilities are built on truck-based platforms and have many of the capabilities of a pickup truck, towing being a major one, with the convenience of carrying six or more passengers and their stuff. Not to mention the off-road muscle a true 4×4 platform can bring when the going gets tough.
The 2019 Sequoia is Toyota’s largest sport utility for the mainstream buyer. Most of the attention toward the Toyota brand’s SUV lineup goes to the Land Cruiser, however, which is far more legendary and hinterland-going capable. The Sequoia is the everyday doer that gets the job done without asking for attention. So while you may not see a Sequoia SUV on your favorite nature show, chances are the British-accented guy narrating it was riding in one with the sound crew on the way to the studio.
The Sequoia seats seven or eight (depending on options) and does so while towing up to 7,000 pounds. It may even do both while bouncing down that off-road trail to the cabin, assuming the trailer is up to that task. The Sequoia certainly will be.
The Sequoia’s style is all about beefy capability. It’s big, strong, and capable. That’s its general motif. Packages for the Sequoia can add nuances to that with the upper-end Limited and Platinum trims adding some chrome and other touches that give a bit more luxurious refinement to the muscle. The TRD Sport package goes the other way adding blackout and near-blackout changes that lend a more powerful feel to the Sequoia.
It’s a big, powerful machine and the Sequoia doesn’t mind letting people know that
Inside, the Sequoia has ups and downs. It hits on factors like comfort, adjustment options, and excellence of materials and build-quality. It misses in places like infotainment, modern refinement, and a few everyday ergonomic points.
All passengers are treated to plenty of room and seating comfort, though those in the very short or very tall realms might wish for more adjustment options. The third-row seats aren’t as comfortable as the middle row is, but that’s usually a given in this class of vehicle. Access to most seats is good, though getting through to the back by climbing past the second row when it’s folded forward can be a challenge due to the Sequoia’s very high ride height and entry-level.
Downers for the interior are also of note. The infotainment screen is a measly six inches in size and looks very outdated compared to contemporaries. Some of the aforementioned adjustment issues for the front seats might be a complaint as well. The Sequoia does sport more cargo space than most other options in its class. What’s missing are places to put small things and gadgets and gear.
The 2019 Toyota Sequoia drives very well for being such a big vehicle. It’s maneuverable, given its bulk, and a lot of that comes from its no-nonsense approach to things. The word “practical” is a big part of Toyota’s vehicle design mission statement and the Sequoia is definitely that. Its capabilities are all geared toward getting the job done in a forthright way. From the driver’s controls to the huge knobs and switchgear, the Sequoia makes no bones about what things are meant to do.
Sadly, that practicality doesn’t extend to fuel efficiency. Even in the notoriously gas hog realm of full-sized SUVs, the Sequoia ranks at the bottom of the pack for fuel consumption. Rated at 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway by the EPA, the Sequoia is not very good on paper. In the real world, it’s even worse with our returns averaging only 14 mpg overall during a week of daily use.
Most of that mpg loss can be attributed to varying passenger loads, varied uses (on and off-road), and heavy use of air conditioning to keep this big SUV cool inside. On the upside, while cruising in the big Sequoia, we noted its great ride quality, which is on par with several luxury makes. We can attribute a lot of that the TRD Sport package we drove, which adds adaptive suspension to the mix. The Platinum model has an even better air ride-equipped setup for more road absorption.
The 2019 Toyota Sequoia comes in four trim levels. For most buyers, the TRD Sport or Limited models are likely to hit the sweet spot between price and equipment. The suspension improvements, which help the ride quality both on and off the road, in the TRD Sport model are well worth considering. The Limited model adds a lot of the goodies today’s buyers might be looking for in a modern vehicle, including optional second-row captain’s chairs and power everything.
The Sequoia does have some problems, though. Most of them are not found in the competition, which includes newer and more updated models like the Ford Expedition and Nissan Armada. And like most sport utilities, the Sequoia can’t compete with a crossover (like the Toyota Highlander) for interior spaciousness and cargo room.
Whichever trim level you choose, though, the 2019 Sequoia is a nice beefy sport utility that fits a lifestyle requiring a true SUV. It’s main high points of capability, muscular looks, and expected reliability are definitely selling points for many. And we don’t blame them.