Trucks & SUVs

The 1 Toyota Vehicle Nobody Wants to Buy

Sometimes things just hang around too long, and this seems to be the case for the Toyota Sequoia. This full-size SUV hasn’t been redesigned for a long time, and its sales are starting to suffer. Here’s a look at where the Sequoia stands and some hope for the future.

Toyota Sequoia sales

The Toyota Sequoia first appeared for the model year 2001, and its sales peaked in 2002 with 70,817 units sold. Looking at yearly sales figures for the Toyota Sequoia since 2005, as provided by GoodCarBadCar.net, it’s clear that sales dropped off after the first several years. In 2005, sales in the United States totaled 45,804. After the sales numbers of 34,315 in 2006, the total plunged to 23,273 in 2007 before recovering to 30,693 in 2008. By 2009, total sales declined to 16,387, and they decreased each year after that. By 2019, sales of the Sequoia totaled just 10,289.

Overall SUV sales

Sales of SUVs in the U.S. during 2019 increased by about 112,000 units when compared to 2018. The Toyota RAV4 was the top seller with 448,068 sold, followed by the Honda CR-V (384,168) and Nissan Rogue (350,447). The RAV4 and CR-V both had increased sales in 2019, but the Rogue saw a drop.

Among large SUVs, the sales leader was the Chevrolet Tahoe, with 101,189 sold during 2019. The Ford Expedition (86,423) and GMC Yukon (74,672) came in second and third. The Sequoia came in sixth (10,289), with substantially fewer sales than the Chevrolet Suburban (51,928) and Nissan Armada (32,044).

Issues with the Sequoia

The new Toyota Sequoia is unveiled during the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California
The Toyota Sequoia | GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

So, what’s the problem? Why don’t people want to buy the Sequoia? The current second generation has been around since 2008, which is an unusually long time. While it was refreshed for 2018 to add new safety features and expand the trim levels, it hasn’t had a major update in more than a decade.

The Sequoia also gets really bad fuel economy. When compared against other large SUVs, the Sequoia gets just 15 MPG combined, while the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition get 18 MPG combined and 20 MPG combined, respectively. People looking for a 2019 SUV with the best fuel economy should look to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Nissan Rogue, Nissan Kicks, Chevrolet Equinox, or GMC Terrain, all of which get 32 to 39 MPG combined.

The Sequoia also falls short when looking at towing capabilities. The Nissan Armada, Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, and Ford Expedition are all able to tow at least 8,500 pounds, and the Expedition can handle up to 9,300 pounds. The 2020 Sequoia manages to tow just 7,400 pounds. On the plus side, the Sequoia has a history of reliability and costs much less than the Toyota Land Cruiser.

The Toyota Sequoia’s reviews

Recent reviews of the Sequoia probably aren’t helping its sales. Kelley Blue Book calls it “a handful to drive.” Its truck-like body is a better fit for off-roading and towing. It also points out that competitors like the Tahoe and Expedition are “fresher.” The latest tech, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, didn’t arrive until the 2020 model year.

Car and Driver says the 2020 Sequoia has “worst-in-class interior quality,” and its “new tech can’t hide old bones.” It does point out the pluses of having a roomy third row and updated safety features backed by Toyota’s reliability. The 2020 Sequoia’s base price is higher than the Tahoe’s and Armada’s. U.S. News adds that the “Toyota Sequoia is a decent SUV, but it’s a stretch to call it good.”

Upcoming redesign

There is good news since the Sequoia is expected to be redesigned for the 2021 model year. It will probably continue offering just the one 5.7-liter V8 engine. Hopefully, the fuel economy can be improved. There have been rumors of diesel and hybrid options, but those don’t appear to be likely. The exterior will get a design update and likely will get longer. The interior refresh will include an updated infotainment system.

While reviewers have not been recommending the Toyota Sequoia recently, with plans for a redesign soon, there may be hope for increased sales for this SUV.