Review: 2022 Toyota Sequoia 4×4 TRD Pro
Without ever laying eyes on Toyota’s three-row, full-size sport utility you’d probably guess that the Sequoia was a big … thing. Sequoiadendron giganteum, or Sequoia trees, are the largest trees on Earth. True to its moniker, this body-on-frame machine is massive, with a wheelbase that’s an inch longer than an Escalade and nine-inches than the outgoing Land Cruiser.
The Sequoia is also ancient, if not majestic on the automotive timescale. Its roots run deep. Toyota breathed a bit of new life into this SUV with a refresh back in 2018, but the current-generation (XK60) dates way back to the 2008 model year. Fourteen years is an eternity for a single platform—just ask the current Dodge Challenger that launched the same year. Indeed, with its dated-looking interior, six-speed automatic, and naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V-8, the Sequoia stands firm with tree-like permanence in Toyota’s ever-shifting product lineup. While the Land Cruiser got the axe in 2021, the Sequoia enjoys a kind of protected status so long as its platform-mate, the Tundra pickup, exists. That said, it simply cannot endure in its current form, and all signs point to the 2023 Sequoia switching to the 2022 Tundra’s new platform, twin-turbo V-6 engine, and 10-speed auto.
Until that happens, we took the opportunity to spend some time with the current Sequoia as a sort of fond farewell. Last month, Hagerty arranged a group test drive in California with an eclectic crop of cars, ranging from a sultry Genesis G70 to an endearing Corolla Hatchback. While our loaded Sequoia TRD Pro test truck drove the same ribbon of tar through Malibu’s canyons, it did not partake in any apex eating. Instead, the big 4×4 trundled along, happily hauling camera gear and snacks like a pack mule with aluminum running boards. Dipped in Lunar Rock paint (a rather dashing albeit polarizing color only available for Sequoia in this trim), the Sequoia TRD Pro comes replete with front and rear internal bypass FOX shocks, 18-inch BBS wheels, RIGID-brand fog lights, a skid plate, and a roof rack. “T-O-Y-O-T-A” across the grille and the traditional roll-down rear glass alludes to Toyota’s beloved old-school off-roaders, like the 4Runner.
If we had to guess, this trim level was championed by a kind of 21st-century-anti-Harley-Earl designer, as there isn’t an ounce of chrome visible on the Sequoia TRD Pro. The unique color and black accents position this truck as a macho trail muncher. It looks rather handsome at the proper angles, and the red center caps on the wheels are a nice piece of flair. That said, the exterior design could benefit from some additional black trim around the wheel wells. Or by the beltline. Anything to break up this lumpy space rock. Toyota has done a decent job dragging this decade-old platform into the 2020s, thanks in part to its 2018 redesign. Looks-wise, it’s a matter of whether you prefer the something like the Tahoe’s sleek creases to the Sequoia’s bulbous lines.
There’s no sugarcoating it when it comes to the interior, where the Sequoia TRD Pro pales in comparison to, say, the new Jeep Wagoneer. Even for a trail-prepped off-roader, there’s simply way too much visible plastic for a truck that exceeds $65,000. The center stack looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2008, and a 7-inch screen gets lost in the giant dashboard. Physical buttons flanking the touchscreen allow for quick menu maneuvering, and despite the goofy look, all software functions smoothly. The seats are amazing, like a distinguished expression of the plush J80 Land Cruiser chairs. We also enjoyed the numerous storage compartments within front seat reach; the middle console actually comes apart like a big Lego set.
Opting for the TRD Pro trim ditches the mid-row bench in favor of captain’s chairs, and the rear seats drop with an electronic switch, which is a nice touch in an otherwise tech-less space. Per the segment, inhabitants will find that the Sequoia is roomy and possesses plenty of cargo space (120.1 cubic feet worth). It’s a Herculean task to fill that kind of cavern. Luckily, the 14-speaker JBL sound system (for TRD Pro and Platinum levels), with subwoofer and amplifier, is up to it. It’s not the kind of system that reveals previously unheard instruments and bass lines, but it’s at least loud.
The Sequoia’s 5.7-liter V-8 serves up its own rumble, shoving the Sequoia ahead with 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. The surprisingly good engine note serenades pedestrians from a single-tip TRD Pro cat-back exhaust. While the truck packs more ponies than GM’s standard 5.3-liter V-8, you give up a few miles in efficiency, draining the tank at 13 mpg in suburbia and 17 mpg on the highway. Of course, if you really don’t care about losing a couple cylinders for the sake of sipping, look no further that the Ford Expedition and its 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 for more power as well as fuel economy. Diesel-friendly shoppers will head straight for the Tahoe’s 3.0-liter oil burner and its 28 mpg highway rating.
Hustle isn’t a problem for Toyota’s big V-8, though, and four giant discs bring the whole show to a stop with minimal nosedive. Ride and handling are both very truck-like despite the independent rear suspension. Hagerty Senior Editor (and expert in all things smooth) Sajeev Mehta commented, “The tuning is nice for front seat occupants, but it gets pretty bouncy on pavement ripples in the third row.” Only while driving back from our Malibu rendezvous, in rush hour traffic, did the Sequoia’s size make it feel a bit unwieldy. On the plus side, tight turns and parking lots were dispatched effortlessly, courtesy of an incredible turning radius. The TRD brute could benefit from a 360-degree camera to provide peace of mind to those worried about double-trucking a pedestrian with their tug-boat-sized rear bumper.
While many hardcore enthusiasts may opt for building a custom overlander from a base model and a parts catalog, the TRD Pro offers the option to purchase a turnkey rig. “It’s an honest appraisal of what many enthusiasts actually need,” said editor Nathan Petroelje. It passes the rough-n-ready eye test, too. Even in grocery store parking lots, onlookers will look at that roof rack and guess you’re accumulating rations for your next Jimmy Chin adventure. And if your Sequoia leaves pavement, no matter, but the Platinum or Nightshade levels might be more suitable. Herein lies the rub, though: All three of these levels, TRD Pro included, wear window stickers north of $60,000. At that point, stretching one’s budget could lead to a Jeep Wagoneer or well-equipped GMC Yukon. And if you’re purchasing the Sequoia TRD Pro purely for its off-road sensibilities, you may as well buy a Wrangler or a Bronco, which have a better chance of fitting on the trail.
Maybe the next Sequoia, on the new Tundra platform, will allow us to see the big tree through the forest. That said, the current TRD Pro model is a totally enjoyable truck designed with no-nonsense adventurers in mind. It will confidently serve those who are looking to haul, tame conservative two-tracks, and still own a buttoned-up sport utility for urban commutes. Think Patagonia-brand sport coat. Speaking of Patagonia, did you know it comes from the word patagón a term used by Magellan to describe a region at the tip of South America that he believed to be inhabited by giants? If they were once there, they’re gone now. Even giants don’t live forever.
2022 Toyota Sequoia 4×4 TRD Pro
Price: $66,120/$66,499 (base/as-tested)
Highs: TRD Pro package is more handsome and rugged than Hugh Jackman. Love the V-8 and general heft, especially when an SUV this large can still turn on a dime at low speeds.
Lows: Archaic-looking interior design. Tippy, truck-like handling. Many highly capable competitors.
Sum-up: The last remnant standing of an old-growth forest. A living monument to Toyota’s thirsty V-8 SUVs of yore.