Space is the Top Feature in the Toyota Sequoia

In this adventure

Editor’s note: How the 2018 Toyota Sequoia performed in a comparison by and mountain bike enthusiasts with the GMC Canyon Denali, Range Rover Velar and Subaru Ascent on a round trip from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz, Calif. Find the other vehicles and the full report here.

The Toyota Sequoia is a large traditional three-row sport utility vehicle that is comfortable and roomy but shows its age, falling behind other large SUVs and lacking the amenities of a new class of large three-row crossovers.

The Sequoia is chasing its rivals because Toyota hasn’t redesigned the SUV in a decade. Over that same span Chevrolet has revamped the Tahoe twice. Ford has just completed a redesign of its Expedition for the 2018 model year. Buyers have noticed. Tahoe, the segment leader, garnered sales of nearly 100,000 vehicles last year, but the Sequoia barely tipped 12,000. tested the Sequoia 4×4 TRD Sport on a recent excursion to Santa Cruz, Calif., to meet up with a team of mountain biking enthusiasts. Leveraging their experience in the sport, evaluated a group of vehicles to find the perfect transport to mountain biking trails.

The other vehicles included a 2019 Subaru Ascent, 2018 Range Rover Velar and 2018 GMC Canyon.

The Sequoia’s journey started with a 365-mile trek north from Long Beach to Santa Cruz. The SUV has a starting price of $49,895. The vehicle tested had the TRD Sport trim and other options that brought its suggested price to $55,535 including a $1,295 destination fee.

Despite the age of its platform, the Sequoia offered the cargo space and passenger accommodations for a successful mountain biking trip. It had a nearly endless capacity to accept duffels, gear, bottled drinks and snacks in its enormous cargo hold.

“There’s absolutely massive volumes of space in this vehicle, so you can throw a ton of gear in here and haul a lot of people,” said Bryon Dorr, a mountain biker and outdoor adventurer from Reno, Nev.

The Sequoia’s lockable, secure cargo area offered peace of mind the pickup couldn’t provide when stopping for coffee or a meal.

The Sequoia TRD Sport looks sharp with its Midnight Black paint scheme that extended to the black-finished alloy wheels. It is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-wheel drive system includes a locking center differential.

Out on the road, it quickly became clear that the Sequoia lagged behind the other vehicles in the test in significant ways. Its touchscreen, at 6.1 inches, is the smallest among the four vehicles. It was constantly obscured by glare. Navigation functions could be displayed on the touchscreen, but only with the use of a smartphone app that had to be downloaded and opened.

The drivers in the group defaulted to traditional phone navigations apps such as Waze and Apple Maps. They missed the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality available in many new vehicles.

“The infotainment system and the controls are minimal and not very nice at all,” Dorr said.

Still, there was one area of technology where the Sequoia shined. It has Toyota’s standard SafetySense active safety suite and a good adaptive cruise control system with full-stop technology.

Toyota SafetySense includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure alert with sway warning system, dynamic-radar cruise control and automatic high beams. The Sequoia has standard blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Sequoia SUV was by far the thirstiest vehicle in the group. It has an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 13 mpg in city driving, 17 mpg on the highway and 14 mpg overall. At $3.50 per gallon, it cost us about $24.99 to drive the Sequoia 100 miles in the mix of high-speed Interstate, city traffic and windy, two-lane roads.

In its driving dynamics the Sequoia was easy to maneuver and back up, despite its large size. A good backup camera system aided the process. Parking sensors beeped when getting too close to an object both front and rear. Around town and on the interstate the Sequoia performed well. On the hilly mountain roads, though, it lacked power. The engine is probably strong enough, but it’s hindered by an aged six-speed transmission that was slow to react.

The 20-inch black-finished alloy wheels with Bridgestone Dueler H/L P275/55R20 series tires were a good combination for our mostly on-road excursion and provided some off-road capability. Grip was excellent, and tire noise minimal. Ride quality was good.

The eight-way adjustable driver’s seat offered a comfortable pilot’s chair with good visibility all around from the elevated driving position. The Sequoia had comfortable second-row captain’s chairs and a three-person rear bench that folded out of sight.

The Sequoia’s cloth seats came in for criticism from the mountain biker panel. Because mountain biking involves a lot of sweat, mud and, at times, blood, they preferred the “wipe-clean” functionality of leather seats to cloth upholstery.

“The cloth seats soak all that in and it just stays there. You never get it out,” said Kayley Burdine, a fitness expert and pro mountain biker from Mobile, Ala.

Lacking modern tech and leather seats, the Sequoia proved itself an adequate choice for a mountain bike adventure. Its ride comfort, maneuverability and cavernous interior make it more than suitable to transport several bikers, bikes and gear. Four-wheel drive offers accessibility to trailheads that others vehicles couldn’t reach.

The Sequoia, last redesigned in 2008, is by far the oldest of the vehicles in the group we tested. Toyota has said a new version was in the works, but it has not announced a date for the revised SUV.