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2016 Toyota Sequoia Overview

The 2016 Toyota Sequoia remains one of the best Toyota/Lexus brand values for families in search of an all-road vehicle with seating for up to 8 and solid towing capability. The coming year's Sequoia remains a full-size, body-on-frame SUV with serious on and off road capabilities; noteworthy changes include some alterations to the vehicle’s infotainment options and safety features.

The 2016 Sequoia is a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) SUV with optional 4-wheel drive (4WD). Seating is configured with front driver and passenger captain’s chairs and third row bench seating for 3. The standard middle row configuration also seats 3, but the Platinum trim substitutes two captains’ chairs, dropping overall capacity to 7. The third row is generally meant for children, but the Sequoia’s overall size makes it possible to seat teens or adults there if need be.

The base Sequoia SR5 starts with cloth seats and limited features, while upgrading to the Platinum trim gets you heated and ventilated leather and a suite of luxury features. All Sequoias have keyless entry and Bluetooth connectivity. The SR5 has Entune Audio and Connected Navigation, which allows drivers to view navigation from their smartphone through the head unit, and both the Limited and Platinum offer In-vehicle Navigation with Toyota’s App suite. The top-trim Platinum also includes premium JBL audio, power-folding rear seats (60-40), and dynamic cruise control.

There is only one drivetrain for the Sequoia, but it offers all the power any SUV owner will need. The Toyota 5.7-liter V8 engine produces 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 RPM, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Sequoias with 4WD have a two-speed transfer case and multiple drive modes for different scenarios, a setup similar to drivetrains on pickup trucks. This also means a pickup-truck-like 4WD mileage of just 14 mpg combined...but then again, the RWD Sequoia only does 1 mpg better. Shoppers who are looking for much better fuel economy and can get by with a little less capability might find the 8-passenger AWD Highlander crossover a more suitable choice.

Serious towing is part of the Sequoia's appeal. Trailer anti-sway comes standard, and the maximum towing capacity is 7,400 pounds on the SR5 and 7,200 on the Platinum. Although some competitors can top this rating, bear in mind that it nevertheless enables the Sequoia to tow its own weight plus that of a sports car. Most owners will likely want to tow something like a camper or boat, and the Sequoia can handle a large version of either of those, with air suspension and a multi-mode differential to help keep it safe while doing so.

The 2016 Toyota Sequoia will start at around $45,000 for a base, RWD version. A top-trim Platinum, however, will run closer to $67,000. Although this may seem high to those used to shopping for mid-sized crossovers, full-size SUVs with this much capability typically start in the mid-$50K range and approach $100K for premium brands. Toyota’s own Land Cruiser, which does not seem to have dramatically more capability, starts near $90K. As with all Toyotas, two years of maintenance is included in the Sequoia's price.

Owners generally use the Sequoia as a large family car, and so safety is paramount. The Toyota Sequoia 4WD has proven to be one of the safest vehicles on the road, be it its massive size, its predictable handling, the demographics of those driving and their good habits, or all of those aspects combined. The model had zero U.S. market driver deaths from 2009 to 2012--of the many hundreds of models produced during that period by all manufacturers, only nine have this exemplary real-life safety record, two of which are also Toyota/Lexus SUVs. Although the Sequoia has not been crash-tested by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the similar Tundra scored Good on all its tests. One demerit is that Toyota does not seem to be offering forward collision mitigation in the 2016 Sequoia, which we found surprising.

Though not a Lexus model, the Toyota Sequoia can offer premium levels of refinement and interior amenities, and all trims tend to offer excellent content for the dollar. The Sequoia is also bulkier than the Highlander and 4-Runner, with true 4WD for those that need it. Buyers attracted to Toyota’s reputation for quality, durability, and reliability will find in the Sequoia an interesting alternative to the GM and Ford vehicles that have long dominated the full-size SUV market.


John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. In the early 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric race car from scratch. In addition to his work at CarGurus, John covers automotive news at Torque News and and is a contributor to CarTalk and BestRide. Aside from all things automotive, John loves fishing and hockey, preferably in the company of his two boys.

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