2019 Toyota Sequoia Review - Proven Presence

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2019 Toyota Sequoia Limited 4x4

5.7-liter V8, DOHC (381 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm)
Six-speed automatic transmission, four wheel drive
13 city / 17 highway / 14 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
18.4 city / 13.8 highway / 16.4 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)15.1 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $61,715 US / $70,237 CAD
As Tested: $63,638 US/ $70,237 CAD
Prices include $1295 destination charge in the United States and $1,947 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

Do you remember 2008? I do. I was six years into a career in sales with a Fortune 500 company that I figured I’d retire from. I had an 18-month-old daughter, with a second on the way toward the end of the year. I had a shiny silver Motorola Razr cell phone, though some of my colleagues were gushing about a newfangled device from Apple that married a phone with an iPod.

Well, I now have two daughters in and around their teen years, each of whom have a smartphone fancier than that first iPhone. I’ve moved around to a few different sales careers, supplementing my income (to pay for those daughters and their data plan) by writing. Things change.

Except at Toyota, it seems, as they are still making the 2019 Toyota Sequoia with very few changes since the waning days of the Bush administration. But people keep buying them, so there must be a reason for it.

It’s big. It’s old. It’s thirsty. Yes, I’m well aware that all three of those could describe your author as well, but these fine pages won’t pay for a review of a used 1978-model Ohioan. Maybe the term that best describes the Sequoia is trusty. While the competition moves toward smaller turbocharged engines and transmissions with eight to ten gears, this twin-cam V8 and six-speed automatic have been reliable motivators for Toyota trucks and SUVs for more than a decade.

381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque are still competitive, moving this big hauler down the road with no drama. Depending on trim, the Sequoia will tow up to 7,400 pounds – my tester, with four-wheel drive, is rated for 7,100 pounds.

The Sequoia still drives like the full-size truck upon which it’s based. The steering is numb, almost disconnected from the road. The brake pedal has a long, soft travel. This is not a rig you drive to hustle down back roads – it’s happiest on the interstate, eating up the miles and the 87 octane.

The ride quality is quite good, considering a curb weight just shy of three tons. Credit the well-damped independent rear suspension, which swallows the ever-present potholes and expansion joints with aplomb. After the typical sister fight over God knows what, I banished the oldest to the third row. It wasn’t the punishment that I’d hoped for, as she had plenty of room to stretch and text in peace. The second row in my tester was fitted with optional captain’s chairs, which were nearly as comfortable as the fronts.

Toyota has updated some bits throughout the car – a smallish 6.1-inch touchscreen for navigation and audio would have been really weird in 2008, after all – and the Toyota Safety Sense-P suite of safety features (blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision, automatic braking, lane departure alert, and adaptive cruise control) are welcome additions to make those long highway cruises just a bit easier. The row of five large control knobs across the center of the dash looks dated, but they are self-explanatory to use, rather than diving into menus on a massive touchscreen just to change fan speeds.

It’s a trope that I’m both annoyed by and guilty of writing – the frequent complaints of cheap, hard plastics in the interiors of many different vehicles. My notes from driving this Sequoia mention the plastics. Indeed, the interior is cheap feeling, but a chance ride in an older Sequoia reminded me of the merits of that hard plastic. That eight-or-so year old SUV had its share of scuffs on panels inside and out, evidence of a life spent hauling a little bit of everything and everyone – but that interior had held up beautifully. No squeaks or rattles save the random kids’ toy rolling from the third row. No trim bits falling off after a too-hard door slam from a moody teen that had been banished to the back row.

I’ve no doubt that a new Sequoia will be a perfectly solid truck at the end of the loan term, which is not a statement I can make about everything on the road.

It’s easy to dump on the Toyota Sequoia as a dinosaur. It’s certainly not the right choice for me and my family – I have no need to tow anything, it’s too thirsty, and it’s a bit ponderous to park in the urban environments I frequently encounter. But for those who need the space and capacity, it’s a choice that should prove to be a long-term family companion.

[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 12, 2020

    Modern domestics all come standard with climate control systems and infotainment suites with knobs on them. They have had Android Auto/Car play integration for years. They give you the OPTION to go with touch screens for all of that. Even the sync 3 equipped rental I had had knobs for all of those things in addition to not feeling like it was from 2004. Look, If you like these rigs, fine...there is in fact much to like but lets dispense with the illusion that because that stuff is old it is somehow better and not available on newer and more advanced products from other manufacturers. You can get knobs in any other truck currently made and they likely actuate far more intuative and advanced systems behind them. This has never been Toyota's strongpoint. Even back during "Peak Toyota" their stereo systems sounded tinny unless you got a Lexus with the Nakamichi system or something. Those were fantastic.

  • Mnemic Mnemic on Jan 14, 2020

    Can't give them away. DAMHIK

  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.
  • ToolGuy Those of you who aren't listening to the TTAC Podcast, you really don't know what you are missing.