The Worst Toyota Sequoia Model You Should Never Buy

The Toyota Sequoia is a large vehicle designed to bridge the gap between SUVs and pickup trucks. Equipped with a 5.7-liter V8 that produces 381 hp and 481 lb-ft of torque, the Toyota Sequoia can tow up to 7,400 pounds.

Multiple seating arrangements are simple with fold-down seats. Having all seats upright allows seating for up to eight people and 18.9 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding down the two passenger rows in the back still provides seating for two plus 120.1 cubic feet of cargo space.

One model to avoid 

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro is on display at the 111th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place
The 2020 Toyota Sequoia | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The 2002 Toyota Sequoia received the most owner complaints of any year model and is rated as the worst year for the Toyota Sequoia by Car Complaints. While the 2001 Sequoia had the most complaints about any one issue, the 2002 model had more total complaints. Common complaints include transmission failure, rear hatch door handle breakage, engine dying when coming to a stop, and brake issues. 

The 2002 Toyota Sequoia’s top problems

All the various complaints have solutions that vary in expense and time in the shop. Some repairs are simple, costing as little as a few hundred dollars and a few hours in the shop. Other issues can cost thousands of dollars and may leave you without the vehicle for days at a time.

Transmission failure

One of the most serious complaints about the 2002 Toyota Sequoia is transmission failure. Transmission failure can lead to unsafe conditions such as being stranded on a busy highway or in bad weather on a deserted stretch of road.

On average, transmission failure for this model occurred at 97,250 miles and required total transmission replacement at an average cost of $3,510. Car Complaints gave this issue a 9.3 on their “severity scale” and rated the issue as “really awful.”

Rear hatch door handle breakage 

The least expensive of the top complaints is breaking the rear hatch door handle. This issue typically arises at around 112,000 miles and costs around $280 to repair by replacing the handle mechanism.

Of course, a broken door handle isn’t going to keep you from going to work, but it is at the least irritating to deal with. Car Complaints rates this issue as “pretty bad” with a 7.7 on the severity scale. 

The engine dies when coming to a stop

A dying engine can have many causes ranging from a faulty throttle position sensor to clogged injectors or defective engine computer operation. In the 2002 Toyota Sequoia, this issue occurred at an average of 107,150 miles and cost, on average, $350 to repair.

Having an engine die when stopped in traffic can be a scary situation and will likely require a tow truck to deliver the vehicle to a repair facility. Car Complaints gives the issue a “really awful” rating of 10.0 on their severity scale. 

Recent improvements to Toyota Sequoia’s quality

Since 2002, the Toyota Sequoia’s quality has continued to improve based on the number of complaints reported for each subsequent year model. The 2002 model had 85 complaints lodged at Car Complaints, but a downward trend led to only 12 complaints in 2006 and zero issues reported in 2009. Since 2009, complaints have stayed at a low of five or fewer. 

2017 model owners reported the highest number of issues since 2008 with five including engine, brake, interior accessory, exterior accessory, and steering problems. The top three problems reported were wandering, soft brake pedal with excessive pedal travel, and rusting fuel door hinges.

The first two issues are concerning from a safety perspective as wandering can lead to dangerous situations in traffic or on narrow roads, and brake issues can make it harder to stop quickly in an emergency.