2021 Toyota Sequoia

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2021 Toyota Sequoia Test Drive Review: Still Going Strong

A car is considered ancient when it's been on sale for a decade, so by that measure, the 2021 Toyota Sequoia that went on sale in its current iteration back in 2007, is essentially a rolling fossil. Toyota has performed minimal upgrades on its full-size Sequoia SUV to keep it relevant, but the basic 5.7-liter V8 and six-speed automatic transmission combination hasn't changed since this vehicle was considered brand-new - and that was before Obama was first elected. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now, plus a few interesting specialty models like the new Nightshade Edition and off-road-oriented TRD Pro.

With the exception of the now-discontinued Land Cruiser, the Sequoia is Toyota's largest SUV offering, competing at a more affordable price point. The Sequoia includes seven or eight seats, depending on the configuration, putting it in the same category as the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, and Nissan Armada. All of these options are much newer than the Sequoia, and some were even introduced this decade. CarBuzz tested a 2021 Sequoia TRD PRO finished in its new Lunar Rock signature color to find out if the off-road bits can help it stay competitive in a segment filled with newer options.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Changes: πŸš™What’s the difference vs 2020 Toyota Sequoia?

Toyota added a new model to the 2021 Sequoia line-up. This new trim is called the Nightshade Special Edition, and it adds several styling features to Toyota's famous family carrier. It's an odd naming choice since Nightshade is commonly associated with toxicity, but in this case, it refers to darkness. Customers can choose between three metallic colors that contrast perfectly with all of the black design elements included in this trim.

Pros and Cons

  • TRD Pro adds off-road ability
  • Interior room and cargo capacity
  • Practical third-row seats
  • An impressive list of standard safety features
  • Reputation and reliability
  • Old-school V8 is thirsty
  • Ergonomics are poor
  • Interior quality is below par
  • Struggles to hide its ladder frame chassis
  • Technology feels outdated

Best Deals on 2021 Toyota Sequoia

2021 Toyota Sequoia Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SR5
5.7L V8 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$50,400
TRD Sport
5.7L V8 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$53,215
Limited
5.7L V8 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$59,420
Nightshade Edition
5.7L V8 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$60,605
TRD Pro
5.7L V8 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$64,625

Toyota Sequoia Exterior

The Sequoia is best described as 17 feet of decade-old Toyota design. Now on the market for 14 years, this SUV is old enough to enroll in high school. We don't particularly mind the styling, knowing that prospective customers care more about what's underneath. It's worth pointing out that while the body may be old, Toyota constantly adds new technologies to keep the Sequoia up to date in the highly competitive large SUV segment. All models have LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and a power tilt-and-slide moonroof. The base SR5 and TRD Pro come with 18-inch wheels as standard, while upper trims roll on 20-inchers in varying designs.

The new Nightshade Special Edition looks sinister with blacked-out exterior accents, while the TRD Pro looks like it was factory-built to take on the worst Mother Nature can conjure. Our favorite styling element on the TRD Pro is the "TOYOTA" heritage badge on the grille. It sets the Pro apart from the rest of the range and is wicked cool. This heritage badge has been such a smashing success that it's now widely copied by third-party companies for a wide variety of manufacturers.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Front View CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Sequoia Rear View CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Sequoia Front Angle View CarBuzz
See All 2021 Toyota Sequoia Exterior Photos

Dimensions

In terms of dimensions, the 2021 Toyota Sequoia is a big boy, towering over the Nissan Armada and its Land Cruiser brother. It's 77 inches tall, 79.9 inches wide, and has an overall length of 205.1 inches. The wheelbase is also impressive, measuring 122 inches.

Every model comes with an impressive set of off-road figures. Ground clearance is 9.6 inches in Platinum spec, climbing up to 9.9 inches for RWD models in other trims. Other trims in 4WD guise come with up to ten inches of ground clearance. The approach angle is 27 degrees on both 2WD and 4WD models, while the departure angles are 20 and 21 degrees respectively.

With such a big body riding on a ladder-frame chassis and a big lump of an engine up front, the Sequoia was never going to be a lightweight. The lightest models are 2WD, weighing in at 5,730 pounds (5,750 lbs in Limited trim). The Platinum 4WD is the heaviest, weighing in at a nice round 6,000 lbs.

  • Length 205.1 in
  • Wheelbase 122.0 in
  • Height 77.0 in
  • Max Width 79.9 in
  • Front Width 67.9 in
  • Rear Width 69.1 in
  • Curb Weight 5,730.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

The Nightshade Special Edition is the biggest news as far as color is concerned. Its blacked-out design decals can only be partnered with Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, or Blizzard Pearl.

The color palette is quite large, but it's limited on certain models. The entry-level model has a choice of Super White, Shoreline Blue Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Celestial Silver Metallic, and Midnight Black Metallic, all at no extra cost. The Nightshade Edition, TRD Sport, and TRD Pro trims have access to only the Magnetic Gray, Midnight Black, and Super White, but the TRD Pro is also available in a model-specific hue called Lunar Rock.

The Limited model comes with the largest selection - it gets all five original no-cost colors, plus Blizzard Pearl at a cost of $425. At the top of the range, the Platinum has a choice of only three colors - Midnight Black, Shoreline Blue, and the $425 Blizzard Pearl.

  • Super White
  • Shoreline Blue Pearl
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Celestial Silver Metallic
  • Blizzard Pearl
  • Super White
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic

2021 Sequoia Performance

The SUV playing field is very different from what it was back when the Sequoia was first introduced. Customers expect a lot more these days, and this puts Toyota at a disadvantage. It comes from an era when an SUV had body-on-frame architecture powered by a large V8 engine. The Sequoia is still truck-based, but it does come with a more modern suspension setup which we'll explore in-depth further.

For now, the focus is on the 5.7-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine. It develops enough power to be adequate in all on-road situations, though we've tested more modern V8s that feel peppier. When it comes to old-school SUVs like this, towing capacity and low-down torque matter most. It has the capacity of a performance engine but the heart of a workhorse. The 2WD models have the highest tow rating, set at 7,400 lbs. 4WD drive models can tow 7,100 lbs. We reckon the 300 lbs deficit is worthwhile considering the off-road ability it adds to the mix.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Forward View CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Sequoia Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Sequoia Engine Bay CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

All Sequoia models are powered by the same 5.7L naturally-aspirated V8 engine producing 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. It's far from the most potent V8 in this segment, and it's outclassed as a result. Passing power is far from lacking, but drivers may have to stamp on the throttle more than in rival SUVs.

A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard and feels its age. There are significant gaps between gear ratios, meaning you will know every time the transmission switches a cog. Other options in this segment have moved on with either eight, nine, or ten gears. The Sequoia sends the power to the rear wheels on 2WD models. 4WD drive models use the same setup but include a transfer case and a locking limited-slip differential.

  • Engine
    5.7L V8 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

No one should expect a gargantuan SUV like the Toyota Sequoia to handle like a crossover. This car entered production over a decade ago, and it feels like it in many respects. The steering is light and manageable but gives little indication of what the front wheels are up to. Though the Sequoia's platform boasts a few upgrades, like a boxed frame and independent rear suspension, it's still based on the Tundra pickup truck, which itself is an older vehicle. Ride comfort is not atrocious in the TRD Pro model, though a big truck-based SUV like this can feel crashy at times. At highway speeds, the Sequoia's heft is tougher to manage than most SUVs.

There are no drive modes to speak of here, just a manual shift mode for the six-speed transmission and a 4WH/4WL settings for the four-wheel-drive system should the pavement run out. We didn't have an opportunity to test the TRD Pro's Fox internal bypass shocks at their off-road limit, but they made a jaunt on a local dirt road feel like a breeze. Though the Sequoia is the least off-road-capable model in Toyota's TRD Pro lineup, it's the only one that can seat more than five people. The Platinum trim gets load-leveling rear air suspension and adaptive variable suspension, though we didn't have a chance to sample it in person.

Sequoia Gas Mileage

The Sequoia's fuel consumption figures demonstrate why most manufacturers have moved on to smaller turbocharged engines and automatic gearboxes with eight, nine, or ten gears.

According to the EPA, the 2WD model should be able to achieve gas mileage figures of 13/17/15 mpg city/highway/combined. We averaged 13.1 mpg in our TRD Pro. The 4WD matches these figures, but its combined consumption is 14 mpg. It's bad, but not unheard of in the segment. Nissan's Armada uses a similar setup and is equally thirsty.

To counteract the heavy consumption, the Sequoia is equipped with a large 26.4-gallon tank, good for a range of around 395 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    26.4 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 13/17 mpg
* 2021 Toyota Sequoia SR5 RWD

Sequoia Interior

The interior looks like it belongs back in 2007 when the Sequoia was first revealed. The cabin is outdated and the plastics are cheap. On the plus side, the interior is hard-wearing and simple, at least from a seating arrangement perspective. Hardcore adventurers will argue that the sturdy, utilitarian knobs will last a lifetime. We understand the argument, but respectfully disagree. Cars like the Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, and Chevrolet Tahoe are proof that you can have rugged yet elegant interiors. Heck, even Toyota does a better job in the Land Cruiser. The Sequoia also lacks certain luxury features the average modern customer expects - something as simple as a head-up display, wireless charging, or a screen that's larger than a smartphone. The Sequoia does make up for it by offering loads of space. Unlike many other three-row SUVs, the Toyota's third row is large enough to accommodate adults on short journeys.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Dashboard CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Sequoia Steering Wheel Design CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Sequoia Gear Shifter CarBuzz
See All 2021 Toyota Sequoia Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Sequoia offers three rows of seating for up to eight adults, though most trim levels include second-row captain's chairs that cut this capacity to seven. No matter which row you find yourself in, the Sequoia's cabin feels extremely spacious. Occupants in the first and second-row seats have plenty of headroom, and legroom is highly competitive with 42.5 inches up front and 40.9 inches in the second row. Even the third row offers 34.5 inches of head room and 35.3 inches of legroom, which is large enough to accommodate an adult. Newer options like the Chevrolet Tahoe offer better ergonomics, but the Sequoia is impressive given its age. There is a major downside to the second and third rows though. Toyota only offers three USB ports for charging, and all of them are located in the front seats. Heating and ventilation are available, but only at the top-end fo the range.

  • Seating capacity
    8-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.5 in
  • Front Head Room 34.8 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.9 in
  • Rear Head Room 34.9 in

Interior Colors and Materials

There's not much positive to share regarding the Sequioa's interior build quality. Hard plastic surfaces fill the cabin, even on the pricier TRD Pro and Platinum models. The RAV4 costs half as much as the Sequoia, yet it has a higher quality, pleasing and functional interior. We hate to bang on about it, but we really expect more from one of the oldest and largest manufacturers in the world.

On the plus side, the cloth upholstery feels like it would last a long time, and the same goes for the leather in the higher-spec models. The leather on our TRD Pro tester felt especially durable, though this makes it less comfortable to sit on for long journeys.

Base models have access to Graphite and Sand Beige fabric at no cost, while the TRD Sport only has Black cloth. Leather costs a few thousand extra on these trims, but is standard in Graphite and Sand Beige from the Limited upwards. Nightshade Special Editions come with Black fabric only with no upgrade options, while the TRD Pro is fitted with Black leather. At the top of the range, the Platinum allows for a choice between Graphite, Sand Beige, and Red Rock and Black perforated leather. Across the range, however, exterior paint colors dictate which interior color schemes you can option, so you'll have to play around a bit to get the combo you like.

Sequoia Trunk and Cargo Space

While the interior quality and ergonomics are questionable, one can't argue with space. Toyota continues to offer massive cargo capacity, even with all three rows in place. Behind the third row, the Sequoia offers 18.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity. To put that into perspective, it's more or less the same size as a BMW 5 Series' trunk. In other words, it can carry a suitcase for every passenger seated on the inside. With the third-row folded flat, the Toyota has 66.6 cubes of cargo capacity, increasing to 120.1 cubes with the second row down.

Not having to worry about space is one of life's greatest pleasures, and that comes standard with every Sequoia. Interior storage space is equally impressive, thanks to 16 cupholders (18 on Platinum trims), a large storage space under the center armrest, and large door pockets. We also love that the Sequoia still features sliding rear glass to load small items without opening the liftgate.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Front Seats CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Sequoia Second-Row Seats CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Sequoia Trunk Space CarBuzz

Sequoia Infotainment and Features

Features

There are six models available and a $16,050 price gap between the entry-level SR5 and the top-spec Platinum. The standard features are spread nicely across the range, with base models getting a mix of basic comfort items and some nice-to-have features, while the top-spec gets everything available. All models come with tri-zone climate control, a power sunroof, and heated power-adjustable side mirrors. Front and rear parking sonars are standard, as is rear-cross traffic alert, a blind-spot monitor, and the Toyota Safety Sense suite, which includes lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, and auto high beams.

Limited and Platinum trim adds power adjustment for the front seats, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Nothing spectacular, but enough to justify the price. The Nightshade Special Edition and TRD Pro get heated front seats, while the Platinum adds heating and ventilation to the front row and heating to the second-row seats too.

Infotainment

While the Sequoia has moved on from its Bush-era technology, it still doesn't feel 100% modern inside. A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes standard, and looks so tiny wedged in the dash, it's almost unreadable from the driver's seat. On the bright side, the pint-sized screen packs a lot of standard features, including Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, AM/FM/HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, and three USB ports. An eight-speaker audio system comes standard on the SR5 and TRD Sport trims, while the Limited adds a 12-speaker premium audio system with built-in navigation. The TRD Pro and Platinum step it up a notch with a 14-speaker JBL system, including a subwoofer and amplifier. The Platinum model comes with a rear-seat entertainment system with a nine-inch display and two wireless headphones and a Blu-ray Disc player.

New Toyota Sequoia Problems and Reliability

The 2021 Sequoia scored 81 out of a possible 100 points in the J.D. Power Ownership Survey. Owners were most impressed by the quality and reliability, but the driving experience scored an average rating. One of the upsides of being around for 14 years is that most of the kinks have been ironed out. Looking at the NHTSA's website, you can see the number of recalls drop with every model year. One recall was issued in 2020 as a fuel pump failure. This was a major recall, affecting 65 Toyota products and not just the Sequoia. For 2021 so far, not a single recall or complaint has been lodged against Toyota's bruiser.

All Sequoia models sold in the USA come with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, with five years and 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

Sequoia Safety

The NHTSA has not subjected the 2021 Toyota Sequoia to a comprehensive review and only offers a four-out-of-five rating for rollover tests. The IIHS has no review for the new Toyota Sequoia at all. The only reference point available is the Tundra, on which the Sequoia is based. Overall, the IIHS was not impressed by the Tundra, but it's difficult to draw a conclusion based on another vehicle's crash rating. Sure, they share the same ladder frame, but the body construction is very different. Therefore, we'd rather rate the Sequoia by looking at its standard safety features.

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Toyota markets the Sequoia as family transport, and not offering a full suite of safety features in a household hauler is just not on. Its bones may be old, but the addition of Toyota Safety Sense P across the entire range keeps it competitive in the segment. This safety suite consists of front pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and semi-autonomous braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist, lane departure warning, auto high beams, and adaptive cruise control. The more traditional safety fare includes eight airbags, traction and stability control, and ABS.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Toyota Sequoia a good SUV?

Toyota Sequoia sales are dwindling, and Toyota failed to sell even 10,000 of them in 2020, the first time since 2000 when the nameplate debuted. It's not difficult to see why sales are plummeting, given the abundance of newer, competitively priced alternatives. We found ourselves charmed by the Lunar Rock paint and aggressive TRD Pro upgrades, but at the end of the day, these feel like a botox injection on a severely aging rockstar.

If we were in the market for a full-size SUV, it would be tough to recommend the Sequoia over any of its rivals. Options like the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, and Nissan Armada all offer more modern engines, platforms, and technology inside. Some buyers will default to Toyota's reliable brand reputation, but none of the alternatives have developed any notable issues. The GMC Yukon AT4 offers similar off-road performance and a rugged appearance, and it's where we'd put our money for a family adventure machine. For those with families that have outgrown the 4Runner TRD Pro, there may be some appreciation for the Sequoia, but this seems like a limited market.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Toyota Sequoia?

For the first time in its 14 year history, there isn't a Toyota Sequoia with a sub-$50,000 price. The most affordable model is the SR5, with an MSRP of $50,400. The TRD Sport retails for $53,115, and then it's a big leap to the Limited with its $59,420 sticker price.

The Nightshade Special Edition costs $60,420, while the off-road-ready TRD Pro costs $64,525. The top-spec Platinum has an MSRP of $66,450. On models that don't come standard with 4WD, it's a $3,225 optional extra. These prices exclude Toyota's destination and delivery fee of $1,425.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Models

There are six models to choose from, ranging from family-friendly suburban runabout to hardcore off-roader. All models come as standard with Toyota Safety Sense P.

The base SR5 comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone climate control, a power sunroof, LED headlights, and a seven-inch touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an eight-speaker sound system.

The TRD Sport adds Bilstein off-road shocks, keyless entry with push-button start, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a gloss black grille.

Limited specifications get a power liftgate, navigation, power adjustment for the front seats, heated front seats, leather upholstery, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Nightshade Special Edition slots in between the Limited and TRD Pro. This is purely a style upgrade and consists of a darkened chrome grille, body side moldings, fog light surrounds, and badges. The mirror caps, door handles, and 20-inch alloy wheels are also finished in black. Black leather is also standard.

The TRD Pro used to be the top-spec, but with the recent price increases, the Platinum now sits at the top. This is the hardcore off-road performance model in the range, which is reflected in the standard features. It comes with LED fog lights, TRD Pro suspension designed by FOX, and 18-inch alloy wheels with off-road-ready rubber. It also comes with TRD interior trim and the "TOYOTA" heritage badge on the grille.

The luxurious Platinum trim comes with a 14-speaker JBL sound system, a larger nine-inch infotainment system, heated second-row captain's chairs, and heating and ventilation for the front seats.

See All 2021 Toyota Sequoia Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There aren't many optional extras available for the Sequoia. The base SR5 can be ordered with a Premium Package, which comes with most of the niceties found higher up in the range. Highlights include leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, the premium 14-speaker sound system, and built-in navigation. Priced at $4,325, it's not a bad way to get a fully-kitted Sequoia at a reasonable price. A Premium Package is also available for the TRD Sport.

On the Limited model, you can add some standalone options, like captain's chairs for the second row ($300) and a few rear-seat entertainment options that range from $1,920 to $3,285. Upgrades to the infotainment system will cost between $1,065 and $1,365. The Nightshade Special Edition offers a basic infotainment upgrade and the rear-seat infotainment option, too.

There are no packages available for the TRD Pro and Platinum trims.

πŸš—What Toyota Sequoia Model Should I Buy?

At this point in the Sequoia's life cycle, we can't see many reasons to buy one of the standard trim levels. The TRD Pro model at least stands out with an aggressive appearance, capable off-road performance, and outstanding resale value. It's certainly not inexpensive starting at around $65k, but we think the TRD Pro represents the only reason to still buy a Sequoia in 2021. Toyota has simplified the Sequoia lineup, so there are no expensive packages or options to select aside from a few available accessories on this trim.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Comparisons

Nissan Armada Nissan
Toyota Land Cruiser CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Toyota Sequoia437 hpTBC$58,300
Nissan Armada 400 hp14/19 mpg$49,900
Toyota Land Cruiser 381 hp13/17 mpg$85,665

2021 Toyota Sequoia vs Nissan Armada

The Nissan Armada is what the Toyota Sequoia should have been by now. Same concept, but dragged into the modern era. The Armada has a 5.6-liter V8 with 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque. It uses a seven-speed gearbox, resulting in slightly better fuel consumption figures. The interior is much nicer, and the quality and infotainment are in a different league altogether. Compared to the Armada, the Sequoia only really has space going for it. The Armada offers a similar sort of off-road ability. As a large SUV, the Armada is undoubtedly a better all-rounder, but if space is your main concern, the Toyota is worth taking a look at.

See Nissan Armada Review

2021 Toyota Sequoia vs Toyota Land Cruiser

The Land Cruiser is more of a Range Rover rival. There's a massive price gap between it and the Sequoia, with Land Cruiser prices starting at around $85,000. The Land Cruiser uses the same 5.7-liter engine with identical specs to the Sequoia, but gets better gas mileage thanks to its smaller body. In terms of off-road ability, the Land Cruiser easily matches standard Sequoia models. The Land Cruiser can't match the Seqouia's space, but when it comes to a blend of off-road ability and luxury, the Land Cruiser is miles ahead. As with the Armada, it boils down to whether you need the extra space. If you don't, the Land Cruiser is a better car.

See Toyota Land Cruiser Review

Toyota Sequoia Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Toyota Sequoia:

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