Skip to main content

Not every family needs a full-size, three-row SUV for their everyday needs and errands, but those that do would do well by picking the Toyota Sequoia. I spent a week with the 2021 Sequoia Nightshade Edition and came away impressed by its drivability, but was unimpressed with some of its features. Here is what it’s like to drive a Toyota Sequoia every day.

The Toyota Sequoia is a good hauler, even if you don’t have a family

Just get things straight, I don’t have my own family to haul around town, so I wasn’t really able to make use of all of the space and family-friendly features that the Toyota Sequoia had to offer. However, if you have a family of four, five, or even six, then this massive SUV will be able to transport you and your brood around in total comfort. The Sequoia’s boxy shape lends itself to have a large amount of head and legroom in all of the rows, even the third one.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition front shot
2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition | Joe Santos

However, I was able to make use of its cargo volume by doing a Costco run. Needless to say, the Sequoia swallowed up every consumer product I could throw into its cargo area with ease. The power-folding third-row is easy to operate by the push of a couple of buttons, although I found that the power liftgate opened and closed rather slowly. There’s no hands-free open option either, so that’s something to keep in mind.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition rear shot
2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition rear | Joe Santos

The Toyota Sequoia’s tech features are from 2008

In case you find yourself shopping for a Sequoia to transport your family, or maybe your large group of friends, I would suggest not opting for the rear-seat entertainment system. The Sequoia hasn’t been redesigned since 2008 and neither has its tech features. In fact, somewhere in the past decade, Toyota just fitted the Sequoia with a few driver-assist features (adaptive cruise, lane assist, and a frontal collision warning) as well as Android Auto and Apple Carplay, but somehow forgot to update the rest of it.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition interior
2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition interior | Joe Santos

And now what we’re left to choose from is the optional JBL Synthesis premium sound system and the optional Blu-ray player with the nine-inch screen. I suggest getting the former and forget the latter, as the Blu-ray player is outdated and there are no inputs for an HDMI cable, only the old-school tri-color inputs. This means that you can’t hook up any of the newer gaming consoles, but your kids can totally make use of the original Nintendo. Or just play on their tablets, like usual.

2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition blu-ray player
2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition Blu-ray player | Joe Santos

The Toyota Sequoia has a lot of power, not a lot of fuel efficiency

Lastly, I found that the Toyota Sequoia was a lot easier to drive than I ever thought it would be. Its body-on-frame construction is based on the Tundra, but Toyota did away with the leaf springs in the rear and installed a rear independent suspension on the Sequoia for a more controllable and comfortable ride. And I can assure you that it definitely is, and what makes the Sequoia even easier to drive is its amazing turning radius, which you have to experience to believe.

The massive 5.7-liter, 381-hp V8 engine that’s stuffed under the hood of Sequoia provides plenty of power and you can really feel the 401 lb-ft of torque when accelerating from any speed. But don’t expect anything close to “good fuel economy,” as the Sequoia is capable of an EPA-estimated 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. During my time with it, I averaged 10 mpg in combined driving. So if fuel economy is what you need, then you might want to look at a Highlander Hybrid instead.


If You’ve Got a Family Pick the Toyota Sequoia Over the Land Cruiser