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.
2019 toyota sequoia review proven presence

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]

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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

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?