CHATHAM, Mass. – Like the towering redwoods for which it is named, the Toyota Sequoia cuts an impressive figure whether parked in a driveway or cruising down the highway. And in the Blizzard Pearl white livery with black accents of the new for 2021 Nightshade edition, the traditional – body-on-frame platform – sport utility vehicle (SUV) really makes a statement.
The view from the driver’s seat is commanding and reassuring, with a full suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) helping reinforce the feeling of safety and security for the up to eight occupants (seven in the Nightshade Edition thanks to two second-row captains’ chairs and three-across in the decently sized third row).
Inside – plenty of room for people and stuff
There is almost 19 cubic feet of space behind the third row and almost 67 when it is folded (120 when both rows are collapsed), but it is the room and cubbies for passengers which is most impressive. There are cupholders for all seating positions (except the middle one in the third row), as well as covered bins for third-row occupants, large door pockets front and rear, a center console large enough for hanging file folders, and a small pop-out bin within the front-door armrests/grab handles!
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The Nightshade Edition means the leather clad seating (heated, power-adjustable in the first row with memory for the driver including outside rearview mirrors) is black (like the exterior mirror caps, door handles, roof rails and 20-inch alloy wheels all part of the special-edition package).
A seven-inch color touchscreen forms the focal point of the infotainment system which includes dynamic navigation system; SiriusXM satellite radio; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, and hands-free Bluetooth connectivity for a smartphone (phone and audio functions).
This example of the Sequoia included the $1,095 Premium Audio and Convenience package consisting of the aforementioned memory-enhanced power driver’s seat; auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, and JBL 14-speaker – including subwoofer and amplifier — sound system.
This Sequoia also had the $1,920 rear-seat Blu-Ray disc player with nine-inch display, two wireless headphones, wireless remote and rear audio system
The complete package makes for a very comfortable environment during long road trips with multiple adults and their luggage, as I learned when transporting family some 300-plus miles along the traffic-marred Eastern corridor. Despite the stop-and-go progress up I-95 in the hot summer weather, the SUV’s accommodations kept us cool and content – the automatic three-zone climate-control system allowed each occupant to tailor the temperature to their individual needs and desires.
Power to perform; a chassis which can handle it all
In addition to all the stuff the Sequoia can carry inside its dominant shape, the combination of the sturdy body-on-frame design and substantial V8 power translates into towing capacity of up to 7,100 pounds in the four-wheel drive (4WD) version we drove.
The double-overhead-cam V8 produces 381 horsepower and 401 pounds-feet of torque, putting the power through a six-speed automatic transmission into the Multi-Mode 4WD system with a lockable TORSEN limited-slip center differential (to apportion torque to the front and rear wheels, and a two-speed transfer case provides a low range ratio for tackling steep off-road trails. Low range is accessible on the fly via a rotary knob, and the driver can lock the center differential with the push of a button).
The powertrain provides more than ample power for everyday driving, whether leaving from a stoplight, entering a hiqhway or having to overtake another vehicle at speed. It did this while getting 17.1 miles per gallon, better than the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s rating of 14 (13 in the city, 17 on the highway), which, considering, engine design and vehicle size and weight, was positively surprising.
The Sequoia’s body-on-frame construction provides a stable, high-strength foundation for shrugging off everyday bumps and ruts as well as traversing off-pavement terrain. Four-wheel independent suspension, which was once a rarity in this class of SUV, yields excellent bump absorption on-road and superb wheel articulation off-road.
The 13.9-inch ventilated front disc brakes use four-piston brake calipers, while 13.6-inch ventilated disc brakes are used in the rear. The power-assisted system includes anti-lock (ABS) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD).
The brakes provide the foundation for the ADAS within the Toyota Safety Sense P package: pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; dynamic radar cruise control; lane departure alert and automatic high beams.
The ADAS equipment also includes blind-spot monitor and cross-traffic alert; backup camera, as well as front and rear parking assist sonar.
The Toyota of big SUVs
The 2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade Edition is a long-standing member of the large-SUV segment, having for nearly two decades offered the company’s well-earned reputation for value, reliability and solid construction.
Toyota offers the large SUV in six flavors from $50,400 for the entry-level SR5 to $64, 525 for the off-road centric TRD Pro to $66,450 for the luxurious Platinum. The Nightshade Edition 4WD has a base price of $63,345 and with the optional packages discussed and the $1,175 delivery, processing and handling fee, totaled $68,309, fitting into the competitive set of vehicles in the segment.
The Sequoia cuts its own imposing figure within the large SUV segment. It won’t be mistaken for a car-service people mover or government conveyance. This is the Toyota of large SUVs and carries that title proudly.