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2019 Toyota Sequoia: New Car Review

The 2019 Toyota Sequoia represents the 12th year since Toyota’s full-size SUV has been completely redesigned. That’s double the lifespan of the typical vehicle generation. It’s also changed very little since then, with basically the same cabin layout, powertrain and styling. If you bought one back when George W. Bush was president, a brand-new Sequoia should still seem pretty familiar.

Now, there have been many feature additions over the years, most notably a standard collection of accident avoidance technologies added last year. They’re optional or not available at all on competitors. Last model year also saw the new Sequoia TRD Sport added to the list of available trim levels, bringing with it special styling and an upgraded suspension for better on-road handling.

Obviously, this decade’s worth of minor updates pales in comparison to the complete redesign undergone by the Ford Expedition this year, not to mention those by the Chevrolet Tahoe, the GMC Yukon and the Nissan Armada several years ago. That means the Sequoia’s interior design looks just as old as it is (the reach to certain controls is laughable), its infotainment tech is a bit lacking and the V8 engine is considerably less efficient than the segment best. Ultimately, that last point could be the reason you go with an Expedition instead, as it could save you hundreds of dollars per year.

Nevertheless, this ancient Sequoia is still a spacious and highly capable full-size SUV. When compared to the Tahoe and the Yukon, for instance, it has a more modern rear suspension design that pays dividends in terms of third-row comfort, cargo space and ride quality. Then there’s the Sequoia’s renowned reliability. So we actually think that the Sequoia is impressively competitive for a vehicle its age (especially with all those safety features), but its fuel economy makes it tough to recommend.

What’s New for 2019?

The Sequoia carries over unchanged for 2019.

What We Like

Genuine 8-person capacity in three spacious rows; standard safety tech; abundant cargo capacity; strong reliability reputation

What We Don’t

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

How Much?

$48,700-$67,635

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.

Fuel economy is estimated to be 13 miles per gallon in the city, 17 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg in combined driving with RWD and 13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy/14 mpg combined with 4WD. With 2WD, the Ford Expedition and the Chevrolet Tahoe return 20 and 19 mpg combined, respectively. That’s actually a considerable difference, translating into hundreds of extras dollars per year.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Toyota Sequoia is available in SR5, TRD Sport, Limited and Platinum trims.

Standard SR5 ($48,700) features include 18-in alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, fog lamps, running boards, a power rear window, a roof rack, a sunroof, a backup camera, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, adaptive cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 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 TRD Sport ($51,415) adds different styling cues, 20-in black wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, TRD antisway bars for better on-road handling, leather upholstery and standard second-row captain’s chairs (reduces seating to seven, available on other trims).

The Limited ($57,195) adds different 20-in wheels, a power lift gate, power-folding mirrors, parking sensors, a power passenger seat, heated front seats, a power-folding third-row seat, Optitron instrumentation, a 7-in touchscreen and Entune’s improved app suite. Some of the interior niceties are optional on the SR5.

The Platinum ($64,410) features an adaptive and load-leveling air suspension, second-row captain’s chairs, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a 14-speaker JBL sound system, integrated navigation and a rear-seat Blu-ray entertainment system with a 9-in display. These latter three tech items are optional on the Limited.

Safety

The Sequoia comes standard with stability control, eight airbags (including front knee airbags), forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems and a backup camera.

The Sequoia has not been crash-tested by a third party.

Behind the Wheel

The Sequoia may be the size of a small bus, but its light steering effort makes it feel more maneuverable than it actually is. It also has an independent rear suspension, which means it tackles bumps without the sort of wiggling and crashing of the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban. Of course, the Sequoia struggles in tight spots, but it loves the open road and eats up highway miles with quiet composure. 4WD Sequoia models even have 2-speed transfer cases with low-range gearing, meaning it’s more capable off-road than its competitors.

From the driver’s perspective, the Sequoia is distinctly reminiscent of the Tundra — or rather, the old, preredesign Tundra. The cabin is very dated in appearance, quality, functionality and infotainment offerings. 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 available second-row captain’s chairs. 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 (one of the biggest of any three-row SUV), 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

2019 Ford Expedition — The Expedition was fully redesigned last year and should be considered the best alternative. It offers almost the same interior volume as the Sequoia, but with a vastly more efficient powertrain and a more modern interior. It’s also available in an extended-wheelbase EL model.

2019 Chevrolet Suburban — The smaller Tahoe’s compromised third-row seat make the bigger Suburban the GM full-sizer to consider (although both share a sky-high loading height and uncouth ride). Its higher-quality cabin and efficient V8 engine earn merit.

2019 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 Sequoia — The Sequoia has changed so little in the past decade and Toyotas are so reliable, why not consider a used or certified pre-owned one?

Autotrader’s Advice

With its full complement of accident-avoidance tech, even the base Sequoia SR5 represents a compelling choice. However, we would expect most buyers will be expecting luxury features like leather upholstery and various power-operated functions that are found on the Limited trim.

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