2019 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport Group Review: Massive, Ancient, Comfortable, and Thirsty

Toyota's huge, Tundra-based SUV last got a refresh a decade ago. It shows.

Toyota

Group Reviews are two or more editors having a real-time discussion about a vehicle over the messaging app Slack. While driving impressions are covered and accurate specifications are added in the edit, these reviews are designed to have freewheeling, conversational tone. This is The Drive's Group Review on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport.

josh
Okay, 2018 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport. I need to cut to the chase quickly on this one: Why would I pay $51,000 for this 10-year-old Tundra, and why do I like it so much? 

[After-the-Fact Check: The test vehicle's as-tested sticker price was actually $59,840.]

mikespin
I can't figure it out. The thing is thirsty, the infotainment system is outdated, the interior is basically the avocado-colored kitchen appliances of SUVs. But for some reason I like that about it. 

[After-the-Fact Check: EPA mileage is 13 mpg city / 17 mpg highway.]

josh
Because old trucks are charming by nature.

mikespin
True. It's definitely the most unpretentious large SUV you can buy. But you pay for the privilege.

Toyota

josh
Okay, let's break it down. THIS is why you're paying at least some of that money: a reliable V-8; the ability to comfortably haul eight people to Missouri on a whim; 7,400 pounds towing capacity; 120 cubic feet of available cargo space; Bilstein shocks; and anti-sway bars front and rear.

Also, there's A LOT of included safety tech.

mikespin
That's true. It's got a ton of standard features you pay extra for in the leaders, like driver-assistance tech.

josh
Adaptive cruise control with full-stop; forward-collision and pedestrian warning; lane-departure warning; emergency braking; auto high beams.

mikespin
Exactly.
/giphy full plate

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josh
Still, the infotainment screen is so old it’s jarring. You get in and expect Jason Mraz to be blasting on the Top 40 channel on your way to Jamba Juice. 

[After-the-Fact Check: The Sequoia comes with a 6.1-inch touchscreen.] 

/giphy Jason Mraz

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mikespin 
I'm surprised Toyota is still behind on infotainment. It doesn't make sense.

josh
It's weird, though, in some ways I think of these extra-old lifecycle cars as, in a way, paying for a retro trim package. I parallel-parked this thing in between a Smart car and a Prius, and the truck didn't say boo. Meanwhile, yesterday in a Lexus I tried to maneuver around an 18-wheeler through oncoming traffic, and the car bricked itself in panic.

All that high tech gets you a car smart enough to have an anxiety attack. Whereas, with the Sequoia, it feels like I'm paying a bit extra to be left alone.

mikespin
I HATE that. Stop jamming on the brakes when we get within 10 feet of another car. We're in New York City for f***s sake.

josh
Parking garages are nightmares. Yes, yes, there's a pole there. There are lots of poles. WE'RE SURROUNDED BY CARS AND POLES, LEARN TO DEAL.

mikespin
Just like in Warsaw. Badum bum.

josh
/giphy clapping

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mikespin
That Toyota V-8 is old and boy does it love gasoline. It'll put away a case of gas in the first inning. 

[After-the-Fact Check: The Sequoia has a 5.7-liter V-8 producing 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, along with a six-speed automatic.]

josh
And it's, like, $75 to fill up the tank. I keep wondering: If you're Toyota, why are you still building this? Is there another market besides the U.S.?

mikespin
Well, the tooling is paid off. It's pure profit.

josh
Right. Since the Sequoia is based on the Tundra, I keep thinking of it like a truck. But the full-size SUV market doesn't have the same loyalty as the full-size truck market. There are suburban families buying this car just because it will fit the hockey gear, and is reliable. It's the reason my mom drove a Ford Expedition when she had four kids at home. Lots of soccer practice.

mikespin
Yeah, and gas is still pretty cheap. The Sequoia has more space inside than a Yukon, so more hockey gear and also the old two kids and two friends and an extra adult equation.

josh
You could use that in a pinch to shuttle a starting NBA team to the game, if their bus broke down. It's huge.

mikespin
And the adult can sit in the third row. Like a full-sized adult.

josh
Hell, more than one.

mikespin
/giphy grown-ass man

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josh
If not that suburban parent demographic, who's buying this? It rolls around like a canoe and parking spots big enough only emerge every full moon.

mikespin
Plus no standard Wi-Fi hot spot, no Android Auto, no Apple CarPlay. You could buy a 2014 and not notice any difference. So why buy new?

josh
Oh, but there's TOYOTA'S version of CarPlay, Entune, which of course we've all been clamoring for.

Toyota

Also, there's no reason not to buy a 2014 model.

mikespin 
We could make this a review of the 2014 Tacoma. Or 2012.

Wait—19 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. That's massive. Space is the killer app.

josh
I'm saying, the sheer footprint has to be the main selling point. You can't teach big.

Toyota

Yuuuuge.

mikespin
True. Also, torquey engine. It's almost fun.

josh
I was just looking around, and apparently nobody's buying this: Sales are half of what they were in 2008 (the last time this was refreshed), according to a Daily News piece. This car should be, what, $40K? Just based on merit?

mikespin
Wow, if they dropped the price by $10K they'd sell every one of them and still turn a profit. They should do what Aston Martin did with the run-out, 10-year-old Vantage. Offer a GT model for a massive discount.

josh
Exactly. Like you pointed out, they've already paid this car off.

mikespin 
Just make it a complete stripper. $35k out the door.

josh
Hell, I'd buy one.

mikespin
Hell yeah I would too. Cloth seats. Just totally with nothing. Roll-up windows even.

josh
Yeah, right, but the base model is pretty close to what you're describing now—cloth seats, broke-ass infotainment—save for the safety stuff, costs FIFTY ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

[After-the-Fact Check: Again, the test vehicle's as-tested sticker price was actually $59,840.]

mikespin
/giphy money money money

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josh
Priced like that, we're just playing with a soon-to-be-dinosaur. We're watching extinction happen.

mikespin
Yeah, they don't care. GM treats its large SUVs like Mercedes treats its S-Class.

josh
Is there another market for these cars?

mikespin 
Hmm.

josh
Russia?

mikespin
Maybe? It doesn't have the same reputation as the Land Cruiser though.

josh
The build quality doesn't feel remotely acceptable for the Middle East.

mikespin
Oh! Though I think it must sell in Saudi Arabia. Toyotas do pretty well there. And UAE.

josh
/giphy desert racing

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mikespin
YES. Interesting though. This Sequoia came out in the middle of the 2008 economic apocalypse. They've spent 10 years making their money back. Maybe they really just paid off the development.

josh
I wonder how low it would have to go, sales-wise, to actively kill it. Everything about this vehicle feels like sheer inertia.

mikespin
But I'd say Middle East, Russia and China are probably the biggest other markets for this. Hmmm...

josh
The question I'm poking around is: Why? Why does this still exist? It's a big bouncy fun truck, but I just don't see who's buying it, where, or—at that price—why? And Toyota obviously isn't investing in it.

mikespin
Probably just bridging to the 2020 Tundra redesign. Likely the new one is on the way.

josh
But why Sequoia AT ALL? The full-size space seems too competitive (again) to have a comically outdated competitor.

mikespin
Why Tundra? WHY ANYTHING, JOSH?

josh
I mean, Tundra only sucks up the leftovers from the domestic Big Three.

mikespin 
Maybe the next Sequoia will be kickass. Or more of a crossover.

josh
Maybe it will be a motorcycle.

mikespin
Or a dragon.

josh 
I like it: it's big and bouncy and unkillable, like the SUVs I grew up with, but there's not much to say about this truck. It's both old and expensive, not built fully for work or real off-roading fun. It just seems like a hauling specialist, whether that's kids or a boat (or kids and a boat).

Toyota

mikespin
It's behind the leaders in towing capacity but not interior space. It's really telling that it's a middle-of-the-pack player, when it should be the last thing anyone ever cross shops against a Yukon.

It does have some goofball appeal.

josh
It's hard to recommend.

mikespin
It is hard not to as well.

josh
In what way? For $51,000???

mikespin
/giphy paradox

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josh
Either this thing is old and cheap or it's new and expensive. It can't be old and expensive. There's not enough there there.

mikespin
It can't be recommended for $51k. But It's a bargain at $30k. So the move is buy a used one.

josh
And there we have it.

mikespin
Because it'll never break. And it looks great with big tires and a lift kit.

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