When it comes to blazing through rugged off-road trails and countless other slices of the road less traveled few can compete with Toyota‘s TRD Pro lineup. From the Tacoma and Tundra pickups to the venerable 4-Runner the Japanese auto giant has a tool available to help you best Jeep Wranglers Chevy Colorado ZR2s and others in rough and tumble dogfights. But what if your an off-road enthusiast that has a growing family and you want to take them along for the ride? For awhile, you were limited to the 4-Runner which is a capable hauler in its own right, but was never well regarded for its people hauling skills. But at long last Toyota has brought the TRD Pro package to its Sequoia full-size SUV but can the Sequoia truly bridge the gap between mud bogging trail warrior and Monday to Friday school commuter? We were keen to find out.
Twelve years of Sequoia familiarity
In recent years Toyota has been known for maximizing the shelf life of some of its models and the Sequoia is no different. As the headline implies, the Sequoia has gone a full twelve years without a major redesign. That amount of time is a rather noticeable fact of life with many of its rivals being either revamped or outright redesigned multiple times. But while Father Time has not been very kind to the Sequoia (Toyota claims a redesign is indeed coming) Our Army Green hued tester still had a number of good things going for it.
The front fascia is still rugged looking with its familial links to the Tundra pickup making themselves known in the headlight and bumper design. The front grille is a TRD Pro exclusive though with the piece pitching its chrome bars for a textured look with the “TOYOTA” script boldly emblazoned in the center. LED head and fog lights make a very bold styling statement in night driving and the fog lights in particular were designed to endure some of the unique stresses that often come with off-roading. Like other offerings in the TRD Pro stable the Sequoia also comes equipped with 18-inch BBS wheels, a prominent front skid plate, and running boards to help guard the rock rails.
The side profile is big and imposing and it leads the eye to the rear of the Sequoia where slightly smoked taillights and a handy roof rack help define the package further. The Sequoia is an SUV that likes to show off its size and while that helps it score styling points out on the street it also comes with some drawbacks especially in parking as well as maneuvering through tight spaces.
With a redesign fast approaching, we are curious to see if the Sequoia (in all of its flavors) will embrace a more futuristic look like the Chevrolet Suburban did for its revamp. The next generation Toyota Tundra will provide a compelling clue into this and with Toyota admitting that the Sequoia will continue to get its basic structure from the pickup chances are good that some of its mojo will transfer to the Sequoia.
Comfortable interior adds utility to Sequoia TRD Pro
Slip behind the wheel of the Sequoia TRD Pro and you are greeted by a very comfortable cabin. The setup here is very trucklike with plenty of buttons and knobs on hand to control various functions. In an era where touchscreen infotainment and capacitive touch systems are rapidly reducing button counts the Sequoias old-school back to basics approach will draw in its fair share of fans. Hard plastics are also a fact of life here, but our tester’s leather seats do their best to keep you from focusing on such things with the cushy cushions providing ample amounts of long haul comfort.
‘But thankfully there are some nods to the modern world in this distinctively old-school cabin with safety features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and more helping to enhance the Sequoia’s ability to keep occupants safe. The infotainment system is also updated for the times with the system now featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Toyota also claims that it has improved the software and we did notice a slight improvement over the last 2019 Tundra TRD Pro that we had at the office.
But a key selling point for the Sequoia TRD Pro is ultimately going to be the two extra rows and it seems that Toyota has hit a home run here in this regard. Second row passengers get to indulge in world class comfort with legroom being very generous and the space offering plenty of distance between passengers. The third row is best used by children and while we don’t have any little tykes of our own in Michigan, a suitably sized friend of the office helped us get a glimpse into how the situation is for younger passengers when we crammed him back there.
Larger adults will have a bit less legroom to work with but the seats back there still retain their high degree of comfort and we think that the majority of passengers assigned to the third row can tolerate a moderate trip through town. When they don’t need to haul people, the third row can be folded down to help enhance cargo space, with our tester boasting 19 cubic feet of room when all the seats are folded down.
Still the greatest trailblazer money can buy
As mentioned the 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro is one of the last disciples of the old-school SUV playbook and that includes its performance hardware. Power for our tester (like all Sequoias) comes from a 5.7 liter naturally aspirated V8 that’s good for 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. That V8 is the only engine offering available with no V6 being offered. All of this power is routed to all four wheels through a six speed automatic which was indeed state of the art in 2008, but looks quite dated in an era where eight, nine, and even ten-speed automatics are rapidly becoming the new normal. Thankfully the transmission still delivers smooth shifts and helped our tester make the sprint to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. That figure is impressive but it will do little to distract you from its rather meager fuel economy figures with the Sequoia rated at only 14 mpg in the city and 13 mpg on the freeway.
But the TRD Pro is all about trail busting, and while our tester left the office the day the Holly Oaks ORV park was scheduled to open, we did the next best thing and did some light off-roading in some of the more isolated dirt roads that are in the rural parts of our area. The front suspension features 2.5 inch Fox sourced internal bypass coil over dampers with spring rates that are actually softer than those on the road going Sequoia. Fox also supplied the 2.0 inch monotube rear dampers and they did help make our tester feel much cushier when tossing it through the rough stuff. Unlike other members of the TRD Pro family, the Sequoia does not get a suspension lift, but Toyota is confident that it will still have enough clearance for most situations.
The core element of its billy goat like abilities though lies in its standard four wheel drive system which offers three modes (2WD, 4HI, and 4LO. A separate button operates the limited slip differential which in turn allows the 32-inch Michelin LTX all-terrain tires to perform at their absolute best. It also allows the Sequoia to stand out somewhat in the full-size SUV ranks. The closest rival that it has is the Chevrolet Suburban, but with the off-road focused Z71 model being a Tahoe only exclusive (due to engineering constraints) the bigger Sequoia occupies a unique middle ground that the Chevy just can’t match.
Sequoia Value Quotient
Pricing for the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro starts at $64,105 with our lightly optioned tester having a final sticker of just over $65,000. This pricing allows the Sequoia to significantly undercut many of its rivals. For example a comparable Chevrolet Tahoe can be optioned beyond $70,000 which is significantly higher than the Toyota.
When you look at the grand scheme of things, the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro still manages to check off all the right boxes. It’s big, brawny and has the ability to seamlessly morph from on-road mall crawler to rock climbing bruiser in a heartbeat. As a bonus it manages to do all of this at a price that undercuts many of its rivals. Here’s hoping that the next generation Sequoia (whenever it appears) can continue to follow these key virtues.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.