By on February 7, 2019

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Thanks to Toyota’s glacier-like design cycle, the full-sized Sequoia SUV looks largely the same as it did when it rolled off the ark in 2008. With seating for seven, the big body-on-frame rig harkens back to the days when SUVs were unapologetically truck-based. For 2020, the Big T is tossing some of its TRD Pro toys at its house-on-wheels, including a set of dandy internal-bypass Fox shock absorbers.

While they were at it, Toyota engineers took the opportunity to breathe on the hot-selling Tacoma. You’ll have to look closely to see those changes but, if past sales performance is any indication, the company didn’t need to spend much money on a refresh, anyways.

The 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro is the answer for folks who want to take six of their closest friends well off the beaten path. With a chassis fortified by a TRD-tuned Fox shock absorber suspension, this big rig joins a roster of capable TRD Pro machines that are proving to be quite popular.

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Fox has been providing stout suspension components to off-road gearheads for ages. Here, the internal bypass shock integrates bypass zones inside the shock body, allowing fluid to bypass the piston through regulated ports as it moves through its travel. Providing a cushioned ride during typical driving, the Fox shock damping gets progressively firmer through the shock piston’s stroke to resist bottoming over rough trail surfaces.

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These 2.5-inch Fox shocks on the front of Sequoia include seven compression zones and two rebound zones. TRD engineers are said to have also reduced the front spring rate on Sequoia TRD Pro to improve its off-road compliance, code for “this thing shouldn’t bounce like a rubber ball after striking some whoop-de-doos.” For the rear suspension, Sequoia TRD Pro employs 2-inch-diameter Fox piggyback monotube shocks. Compared to the standard rear Sequoia shocks, the 2-inch Fox units feature 47mm pistons, 15mm larger than stock.

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Deploying the TOYOTA billboard grille, now a TRD Pro signature, your author confesses to liking the look of this brute a lot more than he probably should. After all, size and mass are often the enemy of off-road fun, so this Sequoia probably won’t go as far as its TRDized Tacoma and 4Runner cousins. Still, it speaks to my appreciation of jacked up big rigs like the old-school Land Cruiser. It also proves that the traditional “spelling-out” of the Toyota brand is a heckuva lot more appealing than the roundish stylized T logo. The butch Sequoia will be available in a unique Army Green while featuring rims and skid plates that appear on other TRD Pro machines.

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Speaking of the Tacoma, it receives ever-so-slight changes for the 2020 model year. A power driver’s seat finally appears, as does a sorely needed upgrade to the infotainment system. High-tech trail assistance comes shows up in the form of  new Panoramic View and Multi Terrain Monitors. According to the bumf, these tools allow a driver the ability to select front, side, or rear views for improved visibility. This is not new to the market. What is neat is the mention of an under vehicle terrain view, allegedly able to help the driver avoid unseen obstacles. Your off-road gearhead of an author looks forward to trying that out on the trail.

In addition, there will be new grille and wheel designs on most Tacoma trims. Despite its advancing age, the truck enjoys very robust sales numbers. Expect that trend to continue with these updates.

[Images: Toyota]

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21 Comments on “Off-Road All the Things: Sequoia TRD Pro, Mildly Refreshed Tacoma Appear in Chicago...”


  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I’ve always liked the Sequoia (and Tundra) but this seems like an effort to milk another year or two of sales before either redesigning or shelving this model. Too bad they didn’t rework the suspension/clearance a bit to stuff some bigger/meatier tires in there, maybe re-gear the axles and then this would be more of an “off-road beast” than they claim it to be. I doubt that this thing has the suspension travel to actually utilize those Fox 2.5s.

    • 0 avatar
      18726543

      Wait until said non-off-roading-enthusiast owner finds out what those Fox 2.5’s cost at replacement time also!

      My uncle went to look at a dealer-modified pickup recently and I told him to ask what the estimated replacement cost would be for the Fox shocks equipped to the truck. The sales guy sent him to the service department, and the service department reported parts and labor would be nearly $4,000 for all 4 units. Whether it be Baja-grade Fox shocks or track-ready Brembo brake packages, your average buyer has no idea what they’re getting into when they buy these types of packages that they’ll ultimately never truly use.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        True…my Raptor has the 2.5s and they are great, but seals fail and they leak. They are rebuildable which I have done twice….about $800 CAD to rebuld all four, as long as there’s no internal corrosion. With some searching you can find replacement 2.5s for the Raptor for about $550 USD per shock through Tasca but up here each shock is about $1200 CAD. I shudder to think what the Fox 3.0s with remote damping on the new Raptors cost.

        But you’re right, the average buyer will be shocked at what these long travel shocks cost over a regular twin tube Rancho on a FX4 or similar off road package.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    I would literally prefer a piece of plastic with an aux input and a volume knob to any stock 2019 Toyota head unit. Android Auto and Apple Carplay are an absolute necessity for Toyota at this point, glad to see they’ve shoehorned them in finally.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    These minor changes to the Taco wouldn’t have been enough to prevent my girlfriend from plunking down 40 large on the new Ranger (build date is quickly approaching).

    Until you make significant modifications for offroad purposes to give the Taco an edge, the Ranger offers so much more from a user interface, comfort and materials standpoint (comparing OEM to OEM).

    Will she off-road it? Unlikely
    Will she modify it? Unlikely
    Was the price between the two competitive? Very much so (fully optioned Lariat or the TRD off-road with all the boxes checked)
    Does the Taco have unreasonably horrific seats, lack headroom and drive like a 1970’s truck? Yup!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “drive like a 1970’s truck”

      What exactly does this mean? I rented a TRD Offroad and I really enjoyed the suspension tuning and how well the ride handled rough roads, makes my ’96 4Runner on KYB replacement struts/shocks feel like an ox-cart!

    • 0 avatar
      The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

      That statement alone makes it obvious you’ve never driven a 1970’s truck.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Coming to a Charter School pick up line near you!

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    Toyota really should be embarrassed by how outdated most of their vehicles are becoming.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    Wow, Toyota actually fixed my biggest beef with the Tacoma, which was the lack of a meaningfully adjustable driver’s seat. Carplay/Android Auto finally got added, too.

    The truck is still old as dirt, but what’s more disappointing is that none of the competitors clearly outshine it. The Colorado is much more up to date with better drivability, but its appeal is hobbled by typically cheap GM attention to detail and materials. The Ranger is already getting hit with a recall, and the first real reviews of the truck from Motor Trend hit it hard for its aged global platform and poor ride quality. And the Ridgeline is just too weird and CUV-like.

    I despise Toyota for letting so many of their products get so outdated, but the Tacoma is still way more competitive than it should be.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Honest question or thought from me…

      I have had the Colorado as a rental a few times from National. I found it to be fine in terms of fit, finish, interior comfort, NVH what have you. MPG was ok, about what I was expecting.

      I have also had a 4Runner. I have always assumed, perhaps incorrectly, the 4Runner and the Taco would drive the same as I sort of figured they shared a lot of architecture. Again, I could be way wrong on this score.

      I had the Toy and Colorado back to back weeks. The Colorado was nicer in every respect from the vantage point of the drivers seat. The GM is vastly more comfortable , more power, better mpg, quieter, road handling. I would say the infotainment systems were about equal, though full disclosure I am not an audiophile in anyway.

      I can handle the long term reliability argument, but I really feel that it is Toyota who has been taking advantage of their customers goodwill and foisting uncomfortable seats, massively huge silver plastic dials for the climate controls that look like they came from a Tonka toy upon their loyal customers.

      So, honest question. What am I missing?

      • 0 avatar
        Trucky McTruckface

        Honestly, the Colorado’s probably my choice in this segment. It’s missing a couple of features like blind-spot monitoring that the competitors have all adopted, and, again, I wish they had done better on the detailing inside, but it’s not a deal-breaker. In terms of ride, handling, power, comfort, everything…the Chevy should be walking away with this market, but it isn’t. I think the “GM junk” perception, true or not, is probably working against it. That, and GM marketing is so dense that they couldn’t figure out how to sell ice water in the Sahara.

        Toyota doesn’t even have the reliability argument in their favor, not with the frame rust issues these things had. Their success is entirely based on (outdated) reputation and market momentum. It annoys me that they continue to get away with phoning in pretty much everything they make.

        • 0 avatar
          jdowmiller

          Agreed. I have had three Toyotas since 2014. I’m too lazy to go into a detailed review but my main beef is they are rattle trap tin can junk. Reliable, yes. But isn’t any car with 35000 miles? I have another one with 50,000 and it’s been decent and the third one was totaled at 80,000. By that time it had already experienced a few annoying mechanical problems. I can’t see myself getting another one considering the poor build quality and the excessive NVH.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        FWIW, my one test drive of a Colorado left me with a positive impression of the interior, comfort, and how it drove, but I was absolutely aghast at the build quality: the sheetmetal stamping/alignment was atrocious, and you could see daylight between the tailgate and bedside from the driver’s seat. This was a brand new truck.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          Thank you for the follow up.

          ‘GM marketing is so dense that they couldn’t figure out how to sell ice water in the Sahara’; has anything more true ever been typed at TTAC?

          gtem, I need to get better at noticing this kind of thing. My primary concern walking up at the rental lot is to open the door and take a deep breath. If it smells like a covered up ash tray, I walk.

          I never notice the other stuff, panel gaps etc. From a sensory stand point I notice everything behind the wheel, weird vibrations, shock dampening, noises etc.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            In my case this was a new-on-the-lot Z71 Diesel that I test drove. Absolutely adored the motor+transmission pairing, an easy 30mpg on my test drive loop, loped along and easily accelerated uphill 70->75mph without even unlocking the torque converter, in stark contrast to the under-motored 3.5L Tacoma I had as a rental in December that had to drop a gear for even the most benign little hills on the highway, and got 19mpg (in winter weather, admittedly). If I were in the market now, even as a diehard 4wd Toyota guy, I’d have a really hard time justifying a Tacoma. The Diesel Colorados have been quite troublesome however, judging by how many lemon-buy-back branded title used trucks there are for sale. I’d probably be looking at Rangers (great torque out of the 2.3L Ecoboost, nice styling) or the old school Frontier to save some money and get that lusty (but thirsty) VQ40 and nice low bed height.

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            gtem, the biggest issue with the Frontier, I had an 11′ for about a year.

            The front seats are awful, the worst of the worst, and the reason I happily parted ways it as 100 miles was all I could take at one time.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    This thing weighs up to 6,000 pounds. What’s the point of a performance 6,000 pound vehicle? This is comparable to if FoMoCo would have offered a Lincoln Continental Mark III Cobra back in the day!

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