Let's be honest, the Toyota Sequoia isn't the modern three-row most buyers are after. It's a perpetual second fiddle to the more famous Land Cruiser and remains virtually unchanged since 2008. The 2020 model year brings with it much-needed updates, which is nice: A larger 8.0-inch infotainment screen, more standard safety, and keyless entry most notably. But it's the newfound off-road abilities that help this truck-based SUV tempt us.
The Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro joins the Tacoma, 4Runner, and Tundra TRD variants on the trail with more-capable underpinnings and grippier tires. It may very well be the more-rugged, trail-ready Sequoia you never knew you needed. That is, assuming you can stand the price.
Hot Green Summer
Visually, the Sequoia TRD Pro gets a blacked-out grille with the “TOYOTA” wordmark, LED headlights and foglights, a roof rack, and black 18-inch BBS wheels, and that's about it. Versus the noticeably enhanced Tacoma and 4Runner with the same name, the Sequoia TRD Pro looks too similar to the lesser TRD Sport, which also gets a blacked-out grille, black wheels, and LEDs. Outside of that, the same innocuous styling from 2008 (when the SUV was new) carries over. The ridiculously cool Army Green paint job (fresh for 2020) helps save face, though. This is a bold new hue for Toyota and is a big help on an otherwise dull set of visuals
Unfortunately, this trim still gets the tiny 7.0-inch screen, instead of the new 8.0-inch touchscreen from the rest of the 2020 Sequoia range. But, even this small screen is easier to use thanks to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa capabilities. And like the rest of the Sequoia range, the TRD Pro has room for seven inside (the SR5 and Limited models, though, offer an option for eight passengers).
Toyota limits the really neat off-road goodies, like Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain select, to the 4Runner and Tacoma TRD Pro exclusively. But even without them, the Sequoia TRD Pro is still plenty rugged. Beefier 2.5-inch Fox shocks, a front skid plate, running boards, and grippier Michelin (P275/65 R18) rubber gives the ancient SUV additional off-road prowess.
At Northwest OHV Park near Dallas, the Sequoia TRD Pro performs… well, like a pro. The TRD-tuned suspension flexes, both literally and figuratively, over unfriendly, undulating trails, while the three-row's ladder-frame construction helps it skip confidently over rocks and debris unibody crossovers might find troublesome. The grippy Michelin tires, meanwhile, improve the 5,985-pound SUVs all-around grip.
Off-road, the Sequoia TRD Pro performs… well, like a pro.
Mechanically, though, not much changes in the transition to TRD Pro. The full-time four-wheel-drive system with a Torsen limited-slip differential and low-speed transfer case from the TRD Sport model carries over (only now it's standard), as does the same 5.7-liter V8 and six-speed automatic found elsewhere in the range. But we'd argue the powertrain didn't need changing, anyway. It still delivers the V8's 381 horsepower smoothly, especially on the trail. Throttle modulation over steep grades feels fluid, and max twist arrives early at 2,200 RPM, as the eager 401 pound-feet helps push the massive SUV up steep inclines with unexpected ease. And with the optional cat-back exhaust, this Sequoia sounds better than any before it.
While the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro is plenty tough, a major thing keeping the SUV from the ranks of off-road royalty is its size. At 17-feet long and 6.7 feet wide, this SUV is a relative behemoth. The Sequoia can't traverse some of the tighter trails nor climb the steeper slopes its smaller siblings do. The three-row's 10 inches of ground clearance and 27-degree approach angle aren't anything to write home about, either, and hamper its abilities over the especially tough stuff.
Pay The Price
There are a lot of things we like about the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro – capability, comfort, and off-road prowess most notably. But price isn't on that list. At $64,030 to start, the Sequoia TRD Pro is the second most expensive Sequoia in the range, just behind the Platinum ($65,945). It also commands a near $15,000 premium over the Tundra TRD Pro, even though the Sequoia is inarguably the least-capable of the two. The only redeeming quality is that equally capable the Land Cruiser costs $85,315.
We applaud the Sequoia TRD Pro for its newfound rock-crawling abilities, roomy cabin, and the fact that it even exists in the first place; a real off-roader in this class is hard to find. But while this tough SUV may be an interesting proposition to some, given the price, the proverbial juice doesn't feel worth the squeeze.
Gallery: 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro: First Drive
2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro