Why Would Anyone Buy a Toyota Sequoia Instead of a Highlander?

Toyota has earned a top spot in the minds of those shopping for a family vehicle. The brand offers sleek and safe sedans, which are now offered with TRD for the edgier, more adventurous sedan drivers. And trucks like the Tacoma and the Tundra that double as both work trucks and family haulers. But where Toyota’s family game really shines is with its SUVs.

A nice range of capable sport utility options from the RAV4 to the Land Cruiser defines Toyota’s family vehicle segment. When choosing between one SUV and another, there are many reasons why someone would choose one over the other. So, why would anyone buy a Toyota Sequoia instead of a Highlander?

The 2020 Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is Toyota’s efficient third-row SUV. The Highlander received loads of updates for 2020, including a hybrid option with an impressive fuel economy. The Toyota Highlander is the third row SUV for the person who wants everything a large thrid row SUV has to offer but in a smaller, more efficient package.

What you get with a 2020 highlander

Powered by a 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, the regular engine delivers enough power, but isn’t exciting. Car and Driver describes the Highlander, expressing that its “handling is unexciting but stable, and the ride is perfectly suitable for family-chauffer duty.” The Hybrid doesn’t have quite the acceleration oomf as some of the other options, but it does get an EPA rated combined 36 mpg.

The Highlander is a practical, top-selling family SUV. The 2020 Highlander got a fresh take for 2020 and it’s obvious. Updated connectivity, standard safety, and interior design in addition to a streamlined body –– plus a Hybrid option –– make this a tempting contender. All at an affordable starting price of $35,720, or $39,320 for the hybrid. AWD is available for $1,600. So why would someone choose the Sequoia instead?

Red Toyota Highlander in the sand by the shore
Toyota Highlander

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The 2020 Toyota Sequoia

The Toyota Sequoia is a much larger SUV in Toyota’s lineup. They are completely different vehicles. In contrast to the Highlander’s V6, the 2020 Sequoia comes powered by a gas-guzzling V8. But there are some key similarities that may have people wondering what the Sequoia has to offer that can’t be found in a Toyota Highlander.

Both are family-oriented SUVs with available AWD capability. Each of these Toyota SUVs sports a third row. Plus, they come with the updated standard Toyota safety suite. In addition to all this, one more feature these two Toyota family vehicles have in common is that they come with the tried and true Toyota reliability. This means each will hold their value, as Toyotas –– in general –– are wont to do.

The Sequoia’s weak spots

First off, the Sequoia hasn’t seen a redesign since 2007. According to Car and Driver, it shows. And that’s the Toyota Sequoia’s biggest weak spot. That, and low fuel mileage means this probably isn’t the go-to city carpooler. Even though it seats 8 full-grown people comfortably, back row and all (the 2020 Toyota Highlander’s rear seats are best suited for kids).

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro side
2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro side | Toyota

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Why choose the 2020 Sequoia over the 2020 Highlander?

With a price increase of about 20 grand, one would hope to find some compelling reasons why the Sequoia is better than the Highlander. One of the biggest draws of the Sequoia is its truck platform. This paired with the V8 and a TRD package (which isn’t available for the 2020 Highlander) make the 2020 Sequoia a formidable off-roader.

So, for the family that wants to fill up all 8 seats, the 2020 Toyota Sequoia is an expensive and dated –– but capable and reliable –– SUV option for families. It craves overland adventure and easily comes fully equipped for just that. The Highlander, while AWD is available and its engine options offer great fuel efficiency, just isn’t capable in the same rugged way that the Sequoia is.

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