2022 Toyota Sequoia vs Highlander
Toyota knows a few things about how to make a user-oriented SUV, including those that need an extra row of seats. The 2022 Toyota Sequoia and 2022 Toyota Highlander are Toyota's two third-row offerings that allow you to seat up to eight people. So, if you have to pull chauffer duties for your kids and their friends, one of these SUVs might be a great fit for you. But which one is the better buy?
You might notice that the 2022 Toyota Sequoia looks somewhat similar to the Sequoia that came out about ten years ago. And that's exactly how long it has been since Toyota last overhauled this full-size third-row SUV. Most SUVs aren't built on truck bases anymore, but the Sequoia sure is - and it feels every inch truck-like. Heck, Toyota has left the same fuel-guzzling V8 engine under the hood over the years. The small-ish 7-inch infotainment system looks somewhat outdated despite recently being updated. You might also notice that there are a lot of hard plastics placed inside of the cabin that seem more on par with what you find in a work van.
But there is no denying that the Toyota Sequoia is a strong family-hauler that can fit all your kids' soccer gear or your husband's golf clubs in the back. Kids and adults alike can enjoy just about any seat in the house, so there shouldn't be any arguing over who calls shotgun. Even when you leave the third row of seats upright, there is plenty of cargo space available for your groceries. There are plenty of USB ports to go around and more than enough small item storage spaces for stashing your valuables. Able to tow a max of 7,400 pounds and with two trim levels designed for off-roading, the Sequoia manages the task of taking your family on fun camping adventures.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander includes a third row of seats, but it is basically just meant for children to be seated in. When you leave the third row upright, there isn't a ton of cargo space to work with. There are rivals out there that do a lot better in that regard.
There are some upsides, though, as the Highlander is not as plasticky as the Sequoia is on the interior, and its seats are quite cozy to ride in. The ride quality is also smooth and effortless, whether the road is extremely bumpy or not. The V6 engine meshes fuel economy and horsepower with ease, plus there is a lengthy list of driver aids and infotainment features.
Which of these two SUVs is going to cater the best to your needs? Let's dive on in and learn all about them.
Size and Styling
Sizing between these two vehicles makes for a big difference, as the 2022 Toyota Sequoia is indeed the larger model here. This full-size third-row SUV is built atop a truck platform, so it might not feel as SUV-esque as some of its competitors. The Sequoia's base SR5 trim level is outfitted with a set of standard 18-inch wheels, some heated side mirrors, a sunroof up top, and - on the front fascia - LED headlights and fog lights. 20-inch TRD Sport wheels, black exterior trim, a roof rack, and badging all come on the TRD Sport trim level. Up from that, the TRD Pro equips some chic Rigid Industries LED fog lights, skid plates, a Toyota branded front grille, 18-inch BBS wheels, black aluminum running boards, and a power liftgate for easy access to the cargo area.
The Sequoia's looks get further enhanced on the Limited with the addition of chrome trim to the body and some bigger 20-inch wheels. The Nightshade - which slates above the Limited - is an appearance-based package that lends to a more athletic aesthetic for this SUV. Consider it to be along the lines of a factory blackout package, as this model is only available in black, gray, and - yes, it's an odd choice - white. Black and dark chrome exterior trim is standard, as are upgraded 20-inch black wheels. Sitting at the top of the line, the Platinum includes heated and power-folding side mirrors.
While the Highlander looks pretty similar, it is a mid-size third-row SUV, so there is a slight size difference. You do get a lot of standard exterior features, including LED headlights. There are other features available as you go up the line, including fog lights, the XSE's sportier aesthetic and dual exhaust tips, and adaptive headlights on the Platinum.
A strong powertrain is needed to get a large vehicle like the Sequoia or Highlander up to speed. An underpowered engine can make it feel like you're piloting a pontoon boat instead of a roadworthy vehicle. The 2022 Toyota Sequoia is powered by a standard 5.7-liter V8 engine which puts out a power output of 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. Paired up to a six-speed transmission, this is the only powertrain available for the 2022 Sequoia.
The Sequoia comes off as feeling a lot like the Toyota Tundra pick-up, which is because they are pretty much built on the same platform. They even have a similar amount of power coming from a bulky V8 engine. This is definitely the type of power required for a lot of heavy towing. Plus, when unladen, you can easily pass by other vehicles on the highway. With a 0-60 miles per hour acceleration time, the Sequoia has one of the quickest performances in its segment.
But with a nearly 6,000 pound curb weight and a steering system that doesn't provide you with much road feel, the Sequoia isn't built for smoothly and nimbly handling winding roads. For its size, the Sequoia is somewhat spunky, and the sport-tuned suspension on the TRD Pro assists with braking stability. Of course, hill ascent and descent really help with off-roading and getting around on slick road surfaces.
Fuel economy is merely adequate from this V8 engine. You get an EPA estimated 14 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving on a 4WD version of the TRD Pro. Real-world tests put highway driving estimates at 17-18 mpg in highway, which falls a bit short. Unfortunately, there are a lot of 4x4-equipped rivals who have higher EPA ratings than the Sequoia.
On the other hand, the 2022 Toyota Highlander has a base V6 engine with a power output of 295 horsepower that delivers power routed via an eight-speed automatic transmission. That power goes to the front wheels, but there is an option for all-wheel-drive (AWD) on any of the Highlander's trims. You can also look into the Highlander Hybrid if you are interested in something a little more fuel efficient.
The V6 has no problem making it from 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds, placing it right up there at the top of the pack. The Highlander accelerates from a stop a little bit more readily than its rivals though. The Highlander's stellar fuel economy at least offsets some of the issues with ride comfort. Since its current generation was introduced, the Highlander has become much better in regards to handling. Body roll is kept in check, plus the optional AWD system uses all of the engine power for each of the individual rear wheels, subtly bettering the SUV's handling capabilities. This also gives the Highlander more traction. Still, the Highlander isn't as nimble as some of its rivals who have shorter panic-braking distances, but daily commutes do not require a whole lot of driving effort on your part.
When you equip AWD on the Highlander, it is EPA rated for 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving. When you stick with FWD, there is a minor bump up to 24 mpg in combined driving. Real-world tests show that the AWD-equipped Highlander can get a combined 24-25 mpg. Quite naturally, the Hybrid variant outdoes these numbers, getting a combined 36 mpg instead.
Comfort, Options and Performance
Toyota and comfort seem to practically be synonymous, although their rivals have really been stepping it up lately, too. The Sequoia's seats are large and chair-like, but they do not offer a lot of side bolstering to keep you locked into place. The front seats are highly adjustable, plus the ride quality feels soft without coming off as being too drifty. Bumps of all sizes are easily smoothed out. A modest amount of engine noise makes its way into the cabin when you push the vehicle into full throttle, but wind and tire sounds remain utterly suppressed. The height-adjustable suspension helps make toting heavy loads a lot easier. Unfortunately, while the tri-zone automatic climate control system delivers ample airflow in the third row of the cabin, it actually feels too weak up front.
It should not need saying, but the Sequoia is great on space. Entering and exiting the first two rows of seats requires you to use the grab handles and running boards but isn't all that difficult for the average adult. The second row seats have reclining and sliding capabilities, making third-row access simple enough. It's just exiting the third row and stepping down to the ground that requires more care. You will get plenty of room for everyone's heads, shoulders, and legs, but occupants sitting in the first row will have to reach forward to touch the audio controls and touchscreen. There is enough legroom for moderate-sized adults in the third row even though the accessway is narrow.
The Sequoia's infotainment system is in dire need of an upgrade and is one of the vehicle's dark spots. We know that Toyota can do better since, well, they do - in other vehicles. The Sequoia's modest 7-inch touchscreen display was upgraded not that long ago but already appears dated. There are more USB ports available than there have been in previous years. Of course, smartphone app integration is now standard issue, but it comes off as overly fussy when you use it, disconnecting or freezing up more often than you might like.
Utility is where the Sequoia shines. With two flat-folding rear rows, cargo space maxes out at 120.1 cubic feet. Leaving all seats in place gives you 19 cubic feet, which is certainly enough for a few weeks' worth of groceries. You can stash your small items in any number of cubby holes or covered bins.
As for the 2022 Toyota Highlander, it is a vehicle with a soft enough ride quality. The comfy suspension never fails to dispatch any type of bump and doesn't start to feel float-y on the highway. The second-row captain's chairs are almost as cozy as the front seats. However, the third-row seats are constricting, have flimsy padding, and the seat cushion is placed pretty low. Road noise is almost imperceptible, and wind noise is kept at bay on the highway.
The first two rows of seats are generous on space, but the Highlander's third row is one of the most cramped in its class. The Sequoia's more spacious third row is still a better bet than this. Although taller drivers would benefit from a telescoping steering wheel with more extension to it since it can create quite a reach, everyone else should easily be able to find a clear and cozy driving position.
The Highlander offers superior external visibility since its front pillars are so slender. Even the view out the back is pretty good for this being such a big vehicle. You can see out the back using the camera-based rearview mirror even if the cargo area is loaded to the roof. The optional surround-view camera system will turn in order to give you a full view all around the outside of the vehicle.
Toyota gets a lot right on the current Highlander generation, maybe even more so than the outdated-ish Sequoia. The optional 12.3-inch touchscreen looks huge compared to the Highlander's standard 8-inch touchscreen display. Unfortunately, there are so many reflections on the surface of the display that make it hard to see some graphics as you drive in bright sunlight. The line-topping Platinum is outfitted with five USB charging ports for the first and second rows, which is all well and good, but there are zero to be found in the third row.
While there are only 16 cubic feet in the cargo area with the third row upright, there are 48 cubes available when you fold that row down; folding the second row creates a good amount of space for massive cargo items. You will find two shelves wedged into the dash, one of which has a mess-reducing phone cable setup. However, you will need to flip the center arm rest up to get to the wireless charger placed inside it.
Toyota knows that buyers all want to stay safe on the road and are demanding more and more features to help with that. Hence the standard inclusion of the Toyota Safety Sense bundle of advanced driver aids. The Sequoia gets the Safety Sense P, which gives the vehicle a lane departure warning, automatic high beams, a lane keep system, a pre-collision system, and dynamic radar cruise control. There is a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, trailer sway control, and parking sensors for the front and rear of the vehicle all packed onto the base trim.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander has its own suite of driver aids - the Safety Sense 2+, to be more precise. This gives you a traffic sign reader in addition to all the usual assortment: forward collision warning, automatic high beams, and lane keep. A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is put onto the LE, and the Limited has parking sensors for both the front and rear of the vehicle. A head-up display and adaptive headlights that swivel as you turn to better illuminate corners both come on the Platinum for a more luxurious sense of safety.
Which Model to Choose?
While the 2022 Toyota Sequoia is probably the better option if you absolutely need that third row for regular use, the 2022 Toyota Highlander would be our pick. The Highlander is much savvier on fuel and still has a generous amount of space. The V6 gives this vehicle more momentum right off the line, and the technological offerings feel much more up-to-date and attractive.