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Since its debut in 2008, the Toyota Sequoia has been the truck-like alternative to the Toyota Highlander without being a truck. This full-size SUV rides just like how you might expect the Tundra truck to drive since they are essentially constructed on the same platform. Coupled with its standard 5.7-L V8 engine, the 2021 Toyota Sequoia offers a performance that many will enjoy.
The one thing drivers might not enjoy is the fuel economy. It is lower than what you get on the Highlander, and some external competitors do a bit better too. Since the Sequoia has not been updated much since its inception back in '08, the vehicle tends to feel outdated, something reflected by the poor fuel economy on the V8.
Could the 2021 Sequoia be the right full-size SUV for you? Should you consider getting the Highlander instead? Might something else be best? We will go over what is new for 2021, reasons why buyers will like the Sequoia, a few reasons why they might not, and how this full-size SUV stacks up against the competition.
What's New for 2021?
A few important changes have been made to the 2021 Toyota Sequoia line-up this model year. The most noteworthy is the addition of the Nightshade, a limited-edition variant that adds black interior and exterior detailing with some unique accents. There are not too many more changes worth noting, and there have not been since the second generation Sequoia was launched in 2018.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Toyota Sequoia – The Pros
1. Several Transmission Options
One of the things people are obviously going to like about the Sequoia is the power it gets from the standard 5.7-L V8 engine. It puts forth a power output of 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. You also get to choose whether you pair it up with a 6-speed automatic transmission or an 8-speed automatic. Either is a solid option, and you will not feel like the transmission is searching for gears. On top of all that, you can choose between the standard rear-wheel or optional all-wheel drive.
2. A Massive Cargo Area
Only a few competitors can best the 2021 Toyota Sequoia's max cargo space of 120.1 cubic feet. There are 19 cubes available when the third row is upright and 67 cubes when folded down. That means you get a lot of usable space for an array of bulky objects. The power liftgate makes loading and unloading your gear all the easier. Additionally, the cubbyholes and hooks in the storage area are so vast and large that you might just lose a small item back there for a good long while.
3. A Comfortable Ride for a Full-size SUV
Since its design is based on a truck platform, the ride quality feels different than what you get from most full-size third-row SUVs. This almost feels more like a luxury SUV with its ability to easily smooth over bumps in the road. The suspension feels well-tuned for comfort, and the ride quality is abnormally plush. This people-hauler will definitely beg to be taken on some long road trips.
4. Can Accompany Up to Eight People
Depending on how you configure the Sequoia, you can seat up to eight people inside its cabin. Kids will fit best in the third row, but you can fit three of them back there. Adults will find that the first and second rows are more welcoming. Still, the Sequoia is able to meet the needs of growing families with several children.
5. A Capable Off-roader
You might not expect the Sequoia to be as capable of an off-roader as it truly is. Configure it just right, and this SUV can easily go off of the beaten path for a fun-filled adventure. For being as big as it is, the Sequoia is quite nimble and can handle winding roads. The upgraded TRD Pro suspension has hill descent control, so you can get the vehicle up and down hills with stability and security. The tweaked brakes also add another layer of security for off-roading.
6. Swift Acceleration
The 2021 Toyota Sequoia is not the speediest SUV ever, but it does well for being as hefty as it is. In fact, this SUV can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, which is just a fraction of a second slower than the industry leader for this segment. The V8 gives just the right thrust of power on start-up, so merging on highways and passing other drivers is pretty easygoing. Even when it is pulling a load, the Sequoia is able to manage a decent enough acceleration rate.
7. Plenty of Legroom in the Third Row
Taller adults might not want to sit in the third row, but if it comes down to necessity, the third row can fit a couple of adults without causing them to feel too cramped. Most adults should find that there is enough leg space back there, even though it is not as much as the first two rows. Kids should have no problem adjusting themselves to a comfy position in the third row.
8. A Large Bundle of Standard Driver Aids
While the infotainment is not worth highlighting as something to like about the Sequoia, some of the driver aids are. The base SR5 trim level comes equipped with handy features such as forward collision warning with an automatic emergency braking function, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, a rear-view camera, parking sensors for the front and rear of the vehicle, and a blind-spot monitoring system with a rear cross-traffic alert function. Overall, these features work well and do not seem to be very intrusive. If you do not want them on, you can opt to shut them off.
9. An Auto-leveling Suspension
The auto-leveling suspension is definitely worth getting on the 2021 Toyota Sequoia. This suspension adjusts the vehicle's ride height to fit particular situations. If you plan on doing some off-roading in your new vehicle, this suspension is a helpful one to have since you will want that extra bit of ground clearance.
10. Tilting and Sliding Second-row Seats
Relegating someone to the second row of seats? They might thank you for it since these seats are able to slide and tilt! Just a few easy adjustments will have second-row passengers getting relaxed in no time at all. And doing so does not infringe that much upon third-row occupants. The third row also has the ability to power recline, which, in addition to being power-folding for when you need the cargo spaces, makes them pretty versatile and easy to use.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Toyota Sequoia – The Cons
1. Exceedingly Poor Fuel Economy
The biggest upside - the V8 engine - is also the 2021 Toyota Sequoia's biggest downside. Unfortunately, it does a poor job of balancing power with fuel efficiency. This gas-guzzler is EPA rated for 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. At least the real-world tests done on it show that these numbers are pretty accurate. Still, most 4x4 trucks do better than this, as do most full-size SUVs. Pick basically any new vehicle out there, and it does better than this on fuel.
2. Audio Controls and Front Cup Holders are Out of the Driver's Reach
Drivers, take note: When you go to reach for the cup holder or to adjust the audio system's controls, you will really have to stretch. The touchscreen is placed well without of reach too. This makes for a bit of a distraction while driving, and nobody wants to have to strain just to reach a cup of coffee or to turn it to a different radio station.
3. An Outdated Infotainment System
Speaking of the infotainment center, it is not one that seems like it should be in a 2021 model. This system is vastly outdated. The 7-inch screen was put in for the second generation back in 2018, but it already looks terribly last-gen. Also, smartphone app connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto seems to be somewhat spotty as there are sometimes disconnects or total freezing of the apps. The whole system could do with a serious update.
4. Lacks Road Feel
This big ol' SUV lacks road feel. Not a lot comes through the steering wheel, so drivers will have to pay more attention to where and how the vehicle is tracking on different road surfaces. It should not be a deal-breaker, but it might be something of an annoyance for some drivers.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Toyota Sequoia vs. 2021 Toyota Highlander
Quiet, comfortable, and well insulated, the 2021 Toyota Highlander is a decent alternative to the Sequoia. The V6 engine offers a better return on fuel while still serving up a solid dose of power. Also, the vehicle is designed well so that there are minimal blind spots and wide views out the front, rear, and sides. On the downside, the Highlander has a cramped third row that is absolutely kids-only, and the cargo space leaves something to be desired - space.
2021 Toyota Sequoia vs. 2021 Ford Expedition
The 2021 Ford Expedition should be a big rival for the Sequoia this model year. It has a ton of space for passengers and cargo, and its V6 engine offers swift acceleration. The front seats are remarkably comfortable, and its towing capacity is one of the best in its segment. However, the Expedition gets noisy when taken up to speed on the highway, and the vehicle is extremely boat-like in its maneuvers. Drivers also might not like how soft and squishy the brake pedal can feel.
The 2021 Toyota Sequoia gets a lot of things right and a few things wrong. It does not feel like a vehicle that has been updated as recently as 2018, and a few revisions could really bring this SUV into the 2020's. Still, you get a good amount of power and comfort from this massive people-hauler.
• Why buy a 2020 Toyota Sequoia? w/ pros vs cons