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The fact that Toyota named its largest SUV the “sequoia” makes perfect sense in 2021. The current-generation Toyota Sequoia is a massive, three-row SUV that imposes its size and weight on every road you drive it on, unrelenting to the traffic that surrounds it. But just like the tree that it’s named after, the Sequoia is not only gargantuan, it’s also very old. Which, I think is its biggest flaw.

The 2021 Sequoia doesn’t know that it’s 2021

To brush you up on the history of the Toyota Sequoia, it made its first appearance back in 2001, then it was refreshed in 2005, only to be completely redone in 2008. After that, it remained the same for the next 10 years with no major changes to its engine, interior, or exterior appearances. Shockingly enough, Toyota didn’t change much of anything on the Sequoia save for a couple of added trim levels and tech features like standard LED headlights and fog lights and an infotainment update for Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility.

2020 Toyota Sequoia on-road
2020 Toyota Sequoia on-road | Toyota

Otherwise, the 2021 model year Sequoia that I’ve been driving around for a week makes it feel like it’s 2008 all over again. Even the materials used in the interior feel dated; from the hard plastics on the dashboard and door panels to the ashtray-like pullout storage bins in the doors, I can’t help but wonder if the Toyota product planners somehow forgot that the Sequoia even existed.

On the bright side, the Toyota Sequoia drives amazingly well

Old-feeling interior and looks aside, I will say that the 2021 Toyota Sequoia drives very smoothly and easily. Yes, it’s a giant of an SUV and it’s basically a Tundra with a third row and a cargo area, but what makes it better is its independent rear suspension. I never would have thought that a change in suspension could make the 5,730-pound beast of a vehicle so much easier to drive than its Tundra sibling, but it definitely does. And its turning radius is out-of-this-world tight; there’s no way that an SUV this big should drive so smoothly.

Speaking of driving, what makes the experience better is the huge V8 under the hood. The big ‘ol powerplant might be old as well, but it sure is spritely. You might not think that 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque could motivate this colossal vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds and tow up to 7,100 pounds, but it does. Needless to say, the Sequoia feels light on its feet and eager to get up go, as if it were an old tree with the heart of a young sprout.

2020 Toyota Sequoia interior overhead cutaway
2020 Toyota Sequoia leather interior overhead cutaway | Toyota

The Toyota Sequoia is in dire need of a redesign

That all being said, the Toyota Sequoia is a great rig if you need the space and the power, but it just needs to be redesigned. It can still seat up to eight people and it has enough cupholders and storage space for each of them. So, in a world where the SUV reigns supreme, there’s still hope for Toyota’s biggest SUV and it should be able to run with the best in its class.

It just needs a new look, inside and out, and a more fuel-efficient engine. After all, the Sequoia’s size isn’t its biggest downfall, it’s everything else. But let’s just hope that Toyota has something big planned for it next year.


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