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2017 Toyota Sequoia: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader April 2017

The Toyota Sequoia dates back nearly a decade without a complete redesign, meaning it came about at the height of the full-size SUV craze, survived the years of high gas prices and recession, and now finds itself once again in a boom time for big and powerful truck-based family haulers. So, despite being a bit behind the times here and there, the 2017 Toyota Sequoia can quite surprisingly be the right truck at the right time.

Really, it comes down to Toyota coming up with a just-right size all those years ago. It's about the same size as a Chevrolet Tahoe on the outside, but like the Ford Expedition, it has a more modern rear suspension design that allows for a more spacious third-row seat and greater cargo capacity. In fact, its maximum cargo capacity rivals that of the much longer Chevy Suburban. At the same time, it delivers the serious towing capabilities expected from this segment along with standard seating for eight people. Plus, as a Toyota that's been tried-and-tested for eight prior model years, the Sequoia should provide superior reliability.

Now, its advanced age does mean its styling, cabin design and technology interfaces are dated. Its fuel economy is also much worse than its competitors. That could definitely weigh on your mind, but despite considerable drawbacks, this oldie does deserve your attention.

 What's New for 2017?

It's yet another year without any updates to the Toyota Sequoia.

 What We Like

Genuine 8-person capacity in three spacious rows; abundant cargo capacity; decent ride and handling for a big rig

 What We Don't

Poor gas mileage even for this segment; distant dashboard controls; exterior and interior design look as old as they are

 How Much?


 Fuel Economy

The Sequoia can be had with either rear-wheel drive (2WD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD) with low-range gearing. The only engine available is a 5.7-liter V8 that produces a robust 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Sequoia at 13 miles per gallon in the city, 17 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and 13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy/14 mpg combined with 4WD. With 2WD, the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe return 18 and 19 mpg combined, respectively. That's actually a considerable difference, translating into spending between $350 and $450 more every year on fuel.

 Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Toyota Sequoia comes in SR5, Limited or Platinum trims.

Standard SR5 ($45,600) features include 18-in alloy wheels, fog lamps, running boards, a power rear window, a roof rack, a sunroof, a backup camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat, 8-passenger seating, a sliding and reclining second-row seat, a reclining third-row seat, rear side sunshades, Toyota's Entune 6.1-in touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, one USB port and an 8-speaker sound system.

The Limited ($54,400) 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. Some of the interior niceties are optional on the SR5.

The Platinum ($62,100) features an adaptive and load-leveling air suspension, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitoring system, heated second-row captain's chairs (reduces seating capacity to seven), ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a 14-speaker JBL sound system, a rear-seat Blu-ray entertainment system with a 9-in monitor and the hard drive-based navigation system. These latter three tech items are optional on the Limited.


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 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 means it tackles bumps without the sort of wiggly and crashing of old truck-based SUVs (plus the current Chevy Tahoe). 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 even have 2-speed transfer cases with low-range gearing, meaning its more capable off-road than its competitors.

From the driver's perspective, the Sequoia is distinctly reminiscent of the Tundra -- or rather, the old, pre-redesign Tundra. The cabin is very dated in appearance, quality and functionality and the stretch to some controls from the driver seat can be humorous. Good luck tuning the radio without a co-pilot.

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 reclining 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

2017 Ford Expedition -- It too is looking quite dated and is set to be completely redesigned next year, but in the meantime, the Expedition should be considered the best alternative. It offers almost the same interior volume as the Sequoia, but with a more efficient powertrain. It's also available in an extended wheelbase EL model.

2017 Chevrolet Suburban -- The smaller Tahoe's compromised third-row seat, sky-high loading height and uncouth ride make its bigger Suburban the GM full-sizer to consider. It's higher-quality cabin and efficient V8 engine earn merit.

2017 Dodge Durango -- The 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 that allows for stronger towing capacity than the typical crossover.

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 recommend 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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2017 Toyota Sequoia: New Car Review - Autotrader