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2016 Toyota Sequoia: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader September 2015

Based on the excellent Tundra full-size pickup, the 2016 Toyota Sequoia has all the toughness you could ask for in an SUV -- yet its ride and handling are surprisingly refined. And its cabin is first-rate, deftly hiding those work-truck origins with above-average materials and plenty of luxuries. It's a good choice in its ever-shrinking class, which primarily appeals to large families and those looking to tow or haul big loads.

Unfortunately, the Sequoia doesn't capture our full-size SUV recommendation like it once did. That's due to the newly redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Suburban, which have rocketed to the top of the class after complete overhauls that included improved engines, better interior materials, more equipment and new styling. Still, the Sequoia remains an exceptionally well-rounded vehicle for those who require its industrial-grade capabilities.

What's New for 2016?

Aside from minor revisions to optional package content, the Sequoia is unchanged for 2016.

What We Like

Excellent V8 performance; cavernous 3-row interior; lots of available features; decent ride and handling for a big rig

What We Don't

Predictably poor gas mileage; distant dashboard controls; starting to show its age with new competition from General Motors

How Much?

$49,000 - $65,600

Fuel Economy

The Sequoia is either rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive with low-range gearing. Standard is a bulky 5.7-liter V8, which makes a robust 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Sequoia at 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway with rear-wheel drive, or 13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive. That's pretty thirsty, but not unusual for this type of vehicle.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Toyota Sequoia comes in SR5, Limited or Platinum trims.

Standard SR5 ($49,000) features include 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, running boards, a roof rack, a sunroof, a backup camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat, 8-passenger seating and Toyota's Entune audio system with a 6.1-in touchscreen and an 8-speaker sound system with iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Limited ($57,900) adds 20-in alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a power liftgate, power-folding mirrors, parking sensors, a power passenger seat, heated front seats, a power-folding third-row seat, Optitron instrumentation, a 7-in touchscreen with integrated backup camera and Entune's improved app suite.

The Platinum ($65,600) features adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitoring system, adaptive air suspension, second-row captain's chairs for 7-passenger seating, heated second-row seats, ventilated front seats, a 14-speaker JBL sound system, wood grain interior trim, a rear-seat Blu-ray entertainment system with a 9-in monitor and the hard drive-based navigation system.

Although the Platinum doesn't offer any options, some higher-end features are available on lower trim levels as options.

Safety

The Sequoia comes standard with stability control, eight airbags (including front knee airbags), and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. It also includes a standard backup camera, though it's mounted inconveniently in the rearview mirror for SR5 models. The upscale Platinum trim touts adaptive cruise control and a blind spot monitoring system.

Although full crash tests haven't yet been carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Sequoia earned four stars in the NHTSA's rollover test.

Behind the Wheel

The Sequoia may be the size of a small bus, but its Camry-style steering wheel and light steering effort make it feel more maneuverable than it actually is. It also has an independent rear suspension, which helps it negotiate bumps in a relatively civilized way for a truck-based SUV. Of course, the Sequoia struggles in tight spots, but it loves the open road and eats up highway miles with quiet composure. Four-wheel drive Sequoia models have 2-speed transfer cases with low-range gearing -- so if you plan to take your Sequoia off-road, you should be in good hands.

From the driver's perspective, the Sequoia is distinctly reminiscent of the Tundra, which makes sense because the two vehicles share not only the same platform, but also the same dashboard. We give the Sequoia's control layout extra style points for its 2-tone color treatment and stylized curves and knobs; however, the face of the dashboard is so flat and distant that the driver may not be able to reach some of the controls. Try turning the stereo knob on the right side, for example. At least the materials are average-plus by class standards.

The Sequoia's front seats are about what you'd expect: wide and largely contourless, but adequately supportive for longer trips. The 40/20/40-split second row seat has plenty of room for adults, and it slides and reclines to accommodate various physiques, though we give the comfort edge to the Platinum's standard second-row captain's chairs (optional on Limited). The 3-person third row is reasonably adult-friendly as well -- once you're situated, that is. Simply getting back there is the issue, as access is rather awkward via the Sequoia's elongated rear door and flip-forward second row chair.

Cargo space is a Sequoia specialty. There's 18.9 cu ft. behind the third row (that's roughly a Ford Taurus trunk), 66.6 cu ft. behind the second row, and a gargantuan 120.1 cu ft. with all the rear seats folded.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Chevrolet Tahoe -- The recently redesigned Chevy Tahoe is now the class leader here, boasting huge interior improvements, more refined engines and a wide range of new standard and optional features.

2016 Ford Expedition -- After updates last year, the Expedition boasts an excellent new turbocharged V6, which combines good fuel economy with strong power. Otherwise, it's even more old-fashioned than the Sequoia -- and little match for the Tahoe.

2015 Dodge Durango -- The recently updated Durango isn't as large as the others, and it's a stretched Jeep Grand Cherokee rather than a converted pickup truck. But it does feature a refined rear-wheel drive platform, three usable rows of seating and an optional 5.7-liter V8 with output numbers that come close to the Toyota's.

Used Toyota Land Cruiser -- If you want more luxury, more capability and more panache, consider the even more impressive Toyota Land Cruiser. Prices are high, though, so you may want to check out a pre-owned version.

Autotrader's Advice

We're a little disappointed by the SR5's mediocre standard equipment, which doesn't include a full-size backup camera, leather upholstery, a power passenger seat or heated front seats despite a near-$50,000 price tag. As a result, we'd reommend an SR5 with a few options, or the mid-level Sequoia Limited to maximize equipment without spending the money required to buy a pricey Sequoia Platinum.

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2016 Toyota Sequoia: New Car Review - Autotrader