- One of the largest interiors in its class
- Flexible seating holds as many as eight passengers
- Equipped with four-wheel drive, it is as good as or better than its peers
- Fuel economy is poor, even among V8-powered SUVs
- Interior dimensions are so large that audio controls are hard for the driver to reach
- Despite 7,400-pound limits, it is the least tow-capable full-size SUV
Let's say you've got a boat, some water-skis, a spouse, four kids and their stuff. Now all you need is a vehicle to haul them around. With its 2016 Sequoia full-size SUV, Toyota may just be able to help.
The 2016 Toyota Sequoia is a big, truck-based SUV that's roomy enough to be a home away from home during a family outing.
While the Sequoia hasn't received any significant changes this year (or for the last several years, for that matter) it's still a viable choice for a big family. The Sequoia is built on the same basic architecture as the rugged Toyota Tundra pickup. Despite its pickup roots, the 2016 Sequoia is comfortable on the road, especially when equipped with the optional adaptive air suspension. The Sequoia has received an Edmunds "B" rating.
For power, there's only one engine available in the 2016 Toyota Sequoia, but it's capable of towing up to 7,400 pounds. And even though this is a pretty hulking vehicle, acceleration is quick. When you want to venture off the pavement, the Sequoia is plenty capable thanks to ample ground clearance and a sturdy suspension.
Unfortunately, it also is a bit stale. The Sequoia hasn't been redesigned in years, and its age shows. Interior quality is lacking, and the stereo controls are located far away from the driver. Rivals have also moved the bar in regard to fuel economy, and the Sequoia's rating of just 14 mpg in combined driving is pretty low.
That said, the other full-size SUVs on the market aren't necessarily superior overall. The 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe and its big brother, the 2016 Suburban, each received a recent redesign, for instance, and both are quiet and have richer, more modern interiors. But each received a "C" rating from our editors. The 2016 Ford Expedition is a better alternative. It received a less substantial overhaul than its Chevrolet competitors, but benefits from a fuel-efficient turbocharged six-cylinder engine and, like the Sequoia, features an easy-to-use fold-flat third-row seat.
Of course, if you don't need the sort of max capabilities offered by truck-based beasts of burden like the Sequoia, a large crossover like the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse or the Edmunds "A"-rated Toyota Highlander will deliver room for a big family but with lower fuel consumption and a less cumbersome driving experience.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016
The 2016 Toyota Sequoia gets infotainment system upgrades and, for the Limited trim, an optional blind spot monitoring system.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2016 Toyota Sequoia is a full-size, four-door SUV with standard eight-passenger seating. Optional second-row captain's chairs reduce seating capacity to seven. The Sequoia is offered in three trim levels: SR5, Limited and Platinum.
The base trim level SR5 model comes with lots of standard features, including 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a windshield wiper de-icer, heated mirrors, sunroof, keyless entry, roof rack, running boards, rear privacy glass, a power rear window and towing preparation. Inside you get tri-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat, a 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat (with sliding and reclining functionality), a 60/40-split reclining and fold-flat third-row bench, second- and third-row side sunshades, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth phone controls, a rearview camera and an eight-speaker audio system with Toyota's Entune Audio Plus with 6.1-inch touchscreen, Connected Navigation (via smartphone), Siri Eyes Free smartphone voice control mode (for iPhone users), a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
Options for the SR5 include a Sport package with 20-inch chrome alloy wheels, a color-keyed grille and second-row captain's chairs (reducing seating capacity to seven).
The separately available SR5 Premium package retains eight-passenger seating and bundles an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, power driver-seat lumbar adjustment, a four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, a power-reclining and -folding third-row seat and a navigation system with a full suite of smartphone apps such as Pandora and OpenTable. The navigation system and auto-dimming mirror are available as stand-alone options.
A roomy cabin helps keep the 2016 Sequoia appealing, but it is a stretch from the driver seat to the touchscreen audio controls.
Stepping up to the Limited model gets you 20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding and auto-dimming outside mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and a power liftgate. Inside, everything from the SR5's Premium package is included as standard, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-trimmed doors and upgraded gauges.. A new Safety and Convenience option package adds a blind spot monitoring system and driver-seat memory functions. A 14-speaker JBL sound system is optional, as is a rear seat entertainment system with a Blu-ray player and a single 9-inch display.
The top-of-the-line Platinum trim level comes standard with all of the above features, plus different 20-inch wheels, an adaptive air suspension (with a load-leveling rear), adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats, power-adjustable driver seat thigh support, heated second-row captain's chairs (reduces seating capacity to seven), a second-row center console, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a premium JBL audio system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside the 2016 Toyota Sequoia you'll find a spacious and comfortable cabin with room for as many as eight passengers. Models fitted with the available second-row captain's chairs have a bit more of a deluxe feel, but it's hard to find fault with the standard 40/20/40-split bench. Its individual sections can be reclined, adjusted farther back for greater comfort or scooted forward to keep youngsters close at hand. The third row also reclines.
The quality of both the materials and construction is only average, but it's still nicer than you might expect given the Sequoia's rugged truck-based origins. Gauges and controls are generally well placed and easy to use, with the exception being the Entune touchscreen audio controls that require a long reach for many drivers. Also, getting started with Entune's available suite of smartphone apps can take some extra time since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account; plus, you always need an active data connection to use it.
"Cavernous" may be the best way to describe the Toyota Sequoia's yawning cargo hold.
With all seats in place, there are 18.9 cubic feet of space behind the third row. This matches the Ford Expedition, but is a few cubes more than a Chevrolet Tahoe and many more than most large crossovers. Fold the third row of seats and the Sequoia shines with a healthy 66.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding both rows down opens up a cavernous 120-cubic-foot cargo hold, which is considerably more than the Tahoe and Expedition (only a Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Expedition EL would be bigger). Plus, the third-row seats fold flat without the sort of awkward, raised load floor found in GM's SUVs.
Standard safety equipment for all 2016 Toyota Sequoia models includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front knee airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. The Limited adds standard front and rear parking sensors and an optional blind spot monitoring system. Adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring are standard on the Platinum.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Sequoia needed 125 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, an average distance for a vehicle of this size.
In government crash testing, the 2016 Sequoia received four stars (out of five) for rollover protection. It was not rated for front or side collision protection.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2016 Toyota Sequoia comes standard with a 5.7-liter V8 engine rated at 381 hp and 401 pound-feet of torque. The V8 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. A four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and a locking limited-slip center differential is available as an option.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Sequoia Premium 4WD went from zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds.
As you'd expect from a full-size, truck-based SUV, the EPA-estimated fuel economy is only 15 mpg in combined driving (13 city/17 highway) with rear-wheel drive, and 14 mpg combined (13/17) with 4WD, despite the same city and highway mileage. These ratings are much lower than competitors' fuel economy. In states that don't use California emissions standards, the 4WD Sequoia also can be configured as a flex-fuel vehicle, capable of using either standard gasoline or the E85 blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Fuel efficiency falls to 10 mpg combined (9/13) when using E85.
Depending on your choice of trim level and whether you get two- or four-wheel drive, the Sequoia is capable of towing between 7,100 and 7,400 pounds.
There may not be multiple engines to choose from in the 2016 Toyota Sequoia, but the gutsy 5.7-liter V8 isn't a slouch. This engine provides impressive acceleration, even in this large, heavy vehicle. The six-speed automatic transmission also performs flawlessly, with smooth, predictable shifts in everyday driving.
The Sequoia's ride quality is quite smooth for its class, especially compared to its more trucklike GM competitors, and should feel downright plush with the adaptive air suspension. The Sequoia also stands out with its available locking center differential and low-range gearbox, which makes it more capable off-road than most big family vehicles. As with its competitors, though, there's no getting around the Sequoia's supersized dimensions and challenging outward visibility. Maneuvering in tight confines such as parking garages can be a hassle, but the standard rearview camera certainly helps.
When it comes to traditional, full-size SUVs the 2016 Toyota Sequoia is worth a look. It has legitimate off-road capability, high towing capacity and seating for eight. If your needs are less extreme, though, a large, three-row crossover will likely serve you better.