2015 Toyota Sequoia

Rating

57/100

Background

Let’s say you’ve got a boat, some water skis, a spouse, six kids and their stuff. Now all you need is a car to haul them around on your summer vacation. With its 2015 Sequoia full-size SUV, Toyota may just be able to help.
While the Sequoia hasn’t received any significant changes this year (or for the last several years, for that matter) it’s still a viable choice for a big family. The Sequoia is built on the same basic architecture as the rugged Toyota Tundra pickup. Yet the Sequoia is pretty cozy on the road, especially when you equip it with the optional adaptive air suspension. The Sequoia received an SUVS "B" rating, but it got high marks for comfort, thanks to an exceptionally quiet ride.
For power, there’s only one engine available in the 2015 Toyota Sequoia, but it’s capable of towing up to 7,400 pounds. And even though the Sequoia is a pretty hulking vehicle, acceleration is quick. When you want to venture off the pavement, the Sequoia is more capable on trails or over rocks than is the norm for this class of vehicle.
However capable it is, though, it is also a bit stale. It hasn’t been redesigned in years, and its age is beginning to show. Interior quality is lacking, and the stereo controls are located far away from the driver. Rivals have also moved the chains in regard to fuel economy, and the Sequoia’s fuel economy rating of just 14 miles per gallon combined is pretty low.
That said, the other full-size SUVs on the market aren’t necessarily superior overall. The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, and its larger Suburban brother, received a recent redesign. Both are quiet and have richer, more modern interiors, but both received "C" ratings from our editors for a variety of reasons. The 2015 Ford Expedition is a better alternative. It received a less substantial overhaul than its Chevrolet competitors, but benefits from a fuel-efficient turbocharged 6-cylinder engine and, like the Sequoia, features a better designed fold-flat third-row seat.
Of course, if you don’t need the sort of max capabilities offered by these truck-based beasts of burden like the Sequoia, a large crossover like the 2015 Chevrolet Traverse or the SUVS "A"-rated Toyota Highlander will deliver room for a big family but with lower fuel consumption and a less cumbersome driving experience.

Drive

There may not be multiple engines to choose from in the 2015 Toyota Sequoia, but the gutsy 5.7-liter V8 isn’t a slouch. This engine provides extraordinary acceleration, even in this large, heavy vehicle. The 6-speed automatic transmission also performs flawlessly, with smooth, predictable shifts in everyday driving.
The Sequoia’s drive quality is quite smooth for its class, especially compared to its more trucklike GM competitors, and should feel downright plush with the adaptive air suspension. The Sequoia also stands out with its available locking center differential and low-range gearbox, which makes it more capable off-road than most big family vehicles. As with its competitors, though, there’s no getting around the Sequoia’s supersized dimensions and challenging outward visibility. Maneuvering in tight confines like parking garages can be a hassle, but the standard rearview camera certainly helps.

Exterior

The 2015 Toyota Sequoia is a full-size SUV with standard eight-passenger seating. Optional second-row captain’s chairs reduce seating capacity to seven. The Sequoia is offered in three trim levels: SR5, Limited and Platinum.
The base trim level SR5 model comes with lots of standard features, including 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a windshield wiper de-icer, heated mirrors, a sunroof, keyless entry, a roof rack, running boards, rear privacy glass, a power-lowering rear window and towing preparation. Inside you get tri-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat, a 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat (with sliding and reclining functionality), a 60/40-split reclining and fold-flat third-row bench, second- and third-row side sunshades, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera integrated into the auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system with Toyota’s Entune 6.1-inch touchscreen, CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, an auxiliary sound jack and a USB/iPod interface.
Options for the SR5 include a Sport package with 20-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, a color-keyed grille and second-row captain’s chairs (reducing seating capacity to seven). The separately available Premium package retains eight-passenger seating and bundles leather upholstery, power driver seat lumbar adjustment, a four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats and a power-reclining and -folding third-row seat.
Stepping up to the Limited model gets you 20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding and auto-dimming outside mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and a power liftgate. Inside, everything from the SR5’s Premium package is included as standard, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-trimmed doors, upgraded gauges, a rearview camera display integrated into the higher-resolution 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and a full suite of smartphone apps such as Pandora and OpenTable. A 14-speaker JBL sound system is optional, as is a rear seat entertainment system with a Blu-ray player and a single 9-inch display.
The top-of-the-line Platinum trim level comes standard with all of the above features, plus different 20-inch wheels, an adaptive air suspension (with a load-leveling rear), a blind spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats, power-adjustable driver seat thigh support, driver memory functions, heated second-row captain’s chairs (reduces seating capacity to seven), a second-row center console  and a power-adjustable steering wheel.

Interior

Inside the 2015 Toyota Sequoia you’ll find a spacious and cozy cabin with room for as many as eight passengers. Models fitted with the available second-row captain’s chairs have a bit more of a deluxe feel, but it’s hard to find fault with the standard 40/20/40-split bench. Its individual sections can be reclined, adjusted farther back for greater comfort or scooted forward to keep youngsters close at hand. The third row also reclines.
The quality of both the materials and construction is average, creating a decent environment that belies the Sequoia’s rugged truck-based origins. Gauges and controls are generally well-placed and easy to use, with the exception of the Entune touchscreen sound controls that require a long reach for many drivers. Also, getting started with Entune’s available suite of smartphone apps can take some extra time since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account; plus, you always need an active data connection to use it.
With all seats in place, you’ll find 18.9 cubic feet of space. This matches the Ford Expedition, but is a few cubes more than a Chevrolet Tahoe and many more than most large crossovers. Behind the second row, the Sequoia shines with a healthy 66.6 cubic feet of cargo space, while folding everything down opens up a cavernous 120-cubic-foot cargo hold, which is considerably more than the Tahoe and Expedition (only a Chevrolet Suburban or Expedition EL would be bigger). Plus, the third-row seats fold flat without the sort of awkward, raised load floor found in the Chevy SUVs.

Safety

Standard safety equipment for all 2015 Toyota Sequoia models includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front knee airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. The Limited adds standard front and rear parking sensors. Adaptive cruise control and a blind spot monitoring system are standard on the Platinum.
In SUVS brake testing, the Sequoia needed 125 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, an average distance for a car of this size.

Specs

The 2015 Toyota Sequoia comes standard with a 5.7-liter V8 engine rated at 381 hp and 401 pound-feet of torque. The V8 is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive is standard. A four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and a locking limited-slip center differential is available as an option.
In SUVS performance testing, a Sequoia Premium 4WD went from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.9 seconds.
As you’d expect from a full-size, truck-based SUV, EPA-estimated fuel economy is low at 15 miles per gallon combined (13 city/18 highway) with rear-wheel drive, and 14 combined (13/17) with 4WD. This is much lower than its competitors’ fuel economy.
Depending on your choice of trim level and whether you get two- or four-wheel drive, the Sequoia is capable of towing between 7,100 and 7,400 pounds.

Value

Massive interior with flexible seating for as many as eight; serene ride; legitimate off-road ability; brisk acceleration and high towing capacity.

Verdict

With seating for eight, plenty of versatility and user-friendly features, the 2015 Toyota Sequoia is a good choice among traditional full-size SUVs. If your needs are less extreme, though, a large, three-row crossover will likely serve you better.

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