Sequoia Goes Pro: Toyota’s family vehicle gets better with age

By Greg Rubenstein

Like the colossal trees found in Northern California, Toyota’s Sequoia is nearly as ancient—at least in automotive years—rolling on a platform largely unchanged since its 2008 debut. Fortunately, this full-size sport utility vehicle has only become better with age, and a new-for-2020 TRD Pro trim adds rugged good looks and upgraded off-road capabilities to a body-on-frame SUV with big-time family and toy-hauling credentials.

Offered in a seven-seat configuration (other trims can seat up to eight), the Sequoia TRD Pro is fitted with deluxe mid-row captain’s chairs and a 60/40 split-back, power tilt-and-fold third row with room for three adults. Outside, the TRD Pro is available in four exclusive colors—Army Green, Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic and the as-tested Super White—accented with a TRD Pro grille, LED headlights and Rigid Industries LED fog light, and blacked-out 18-inch forged aluminum BBS wheels fitted with meaty 275/65 offroad-ready tires. A sturdy front skid plate helps protects the oil pan and Fox-sourced suspension components, and the multi-mode/driver-selectable four-wheel drive provides significant off-road abilities and sure-footed on-road traction during inclement weather.

Power is provided by a 5.7-liter, 381-horsepower V8 engine, and the six-speed automatic transmission helps this three-ton (5,985-pound) SUV return an EPA-estimated 14 mpg in combined city/highway driving (13 city/17 highway). A week’s worth of testing returned almost 20 mpg on the freeway, offset by an observed 11 mpg in city driving—turning in a spot-on combined 14 mpg over 600 miles of mixed-use motoring.

Inside, the Sequoia TRD Pro’s upscale cabin is equipped with soft-touch surfaces, leather-trimmed power front seats, and a full complement of tech and safety features, including Wi-Fi and a satellite-connected, touchscreen-controlled infotainment system with Android Auto, Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The nav system is voice controlled and includes dynamic point-of-interest search, while the 14-speaker premium JBL sound system comes with separate subwoofer and amplifier.

Safety systems include active pre-collision and pedestrian detection, “smart stop” brake override, lane departure alert with sway warning, auto high-beam headlights, dynamic semi-autonomous radar cruise control, along with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert system.

With a massive silhouette and unfettered driver’s perch, the Sequoia TRD Pro has impressive road presence. Driving dynamics, however, are more sport than utility, with nimble handling and perky response to input from both the throttle and brakes.

The Sequoia TRD Pro’s base price is $65,430. The sampled model included cargo cover ($245), carpeted floor mats and door sill protector ($379), and TRD performance exhaust system with black chrome tips ($1,050), for an as-tested price of $67,104.

Among the crowded field of full-size SUVs, the Sequoia TRD Pro stands out thanks to its go-anywhere appearance and abilities, exemplary on-road driving dynamics, upscale interior and renowned Toyota reliability. It’s a solid value deserving consideration in anyone’s garage, especially for those who also need a towing-capable rig that’s off-road ready.   

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