Road Test: 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

Named for California’s massive, majestic redwood trees, the Toyota Sequoia has always been about adventure. For 2020, those adventures can be enjoyed farther off the beaten path with the first-ever Sequoia TRD Pro. We spent a week with one to see just how adventurous and capable it is.

For those not familiar, the TRD Pro badge on Toyota vehicles signifies a vehicle that’s capable of going where ordinary pickups and SUVs fear to tread, while still retaining comfort for daily driving.

Exterior

The TRD Pro “TOYOTA” grille leads the charge, flanked by LED headlights and, below, Rigid Industries LED fog lights. The 18 x 8-in. black BBS forged aluminum wheels wear P275/65 R18 tires.

In addition to TRD Pro-exclusive Army Green, other exterior color choices include Super White, Midnight Black Metallic and Magnetic Gray Metallic like our tester. All feature black TRD Pro front door badges. A TRD front skid plate helps protect the front suspension and oil pan during trail driving, while cast aluminum running boards and a roof rack enhance function, convenience, and the adventurous attitude.

Interior

The TRD Pro cabin treatment mixes ready-to-get-dirty function with luxury, because there’s nothing wrong with a little comfort out on the trail. Black TRD Pro leather-trimmed seats with red contrast stitching and “TRD Pro” stitched into the front headrests are comfortable and durable, while TRD Pro all-weather floor mats add bring-it-on cabin protection.

Sequoia offers ample comfort and room in all three seating rows. TRD Pro is available exclusively as a 7-seat model, featuring middle-row captain’s chairs and a three-across third-row seat with 60/40 split backs that also recline.

An independent rear suspension endows Sequoia with a smooth ride, plus the agility one might expect from a smaller vehicle. The suspension design plays a large part in allowing for the third row’s roominess, which offers adult-size legroom (35.1 in.). The third-row seat is split 60/40 and can recline. It also easily folds flat, a task made more convenient by the available power tilting and folding feature.

Second-row legroom is full-size sedan-like at 40.9 inches. Even with its capaciousness, the Sequoia immediately gives the impression of driving “smaller than it is” thanks to its supple ride and 38.1-ft. turning radius.

Got lots of gear to haul? The Sequoia has the room. With both third-row seat backs folded flat, there’s 66.6 cu. ft. of carrying space, enough to haul camping gear for four. With the second-row seatbacks also folded, the space increases to a cavernous 120.1 cu. ft., enough for a very long camping trip for two. The Sequoia can even carry objects up to 11 feet long, provided the maximum weight is not exceeded. The liftgate has a versatile separate power window, with auto up/down and jam protection. We love this on summer days with all the windows down!

Extra-large cup/bottle holders outnumber passengers two to one.

Powertrain

All Sequoia models are powered by the dual-overhead cam 5.7-liter i-FORCE V8, which produces 381 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 401 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. Dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and an Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) ensure ample torque across the engine’s entire speed range. This powerhouse uses only regular-grade gasoline and is paired with a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

Notably, the big V8 produces 90 percent of its peak torque at a low 2,200 rpm, a boon to towing. Compliant with the SAE J2807 towing standard, the Sequoia TRD Pro can tow up to 7,100 lbs. and features an integrated tow hitch, driver-selectable Tow/Haul transmission mode and Trailer Sway Control. The latter uses the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) to help counteract handling forces that can lead to trailer sway.

The available Multi-Mode 4WD system (standard on TRD Pro) uses 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.

With its robust body-on-frame construction, four-wheel independent suspension, generous ground clearance and strong engine, the Sequoia was already one of the most capable full-size SUVs on the market. The TRD Pro takes that capability to an extreme with a chassis fortified by Fox aluminum-bodied internal bypass shocks, standard Multi-Mode 4WD, and proven off-road equipment specially designed or selected by Toyota Racing Development engineers.

Aluminum-bodied internal bypass shocks employed on the 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro (and all TRD Pro models) are tuned by TRD engineers specifically for each model. Compared to external-bypass shocks used on off-road race vehicles, the Fox internal bypass shock compactly integrates bypass zones inside the shock body, which allows the shock’s fluid to bypass the piston through regulated ports as it moves through its travel. Providing a cushioned ride during typical driving, the Fox shock damping gets progressively firmer through the shock piston’s stroke to resist bottoming over rough trail surfaces.

The 2.5-inch Fox front shocks on Sequoia TRD Pro include 7 compression zones and 2 rebound zones, and the front shocks also provide an increase in rebound travel of 18mm. TRD engineers reduced the front spring rate on Sequoia TRD Pro to improve its off-road compliance.

For the rear suspension, Sequoia TRD Pro employs 2-inch-diameter Fox piggyback monotube shocks that feature bottom-out-control technology, which is designed to increase damping force for improved bottoming resistance in unforgiving terrain. Compared to the standard rear Sequoia shocks, the 2-inch Fox units feature larger 47mm pistons (15mm larger than original equipment) and beefier shock rods that are 3.2 mm larger in diameter.

The Fox shock bodies are constructed of fully anodized aluminum to help reduce weight while also efficiently dissipating heat to reduce shock fade during off-road driving. A combination of high-temperature damper fluid and pressurized nitrogen gas inside each Fox shock improves bump compliance and help maximize seal life.

Safety

Toyota safety comes to the fore in the Sequoia with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) standard on every grade. This advanced active safety suite bundles the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, plus Automatic High Beams.

In addition, all Sequoia grades come equipped with standard Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The interior features a dual-stage, advanced front air bag system, seat-mounted side airbags for the driver and front passenger, roll-sensing side curtain airbags for all three seating rows, plus driver and front passenger knee airbags.

Infotainment

The TRD Pro feature Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and JBL with Clari-FI technology and 14 speakers, including subwoofer and amplifier. This comprehensive system includes Dynamic Navigation with up to 3-year trial, Dynamic POI Search, and Dynamic Voice Recognition. The Limited also can be optioned to the JBL system as well.

The system includes Android Auto, Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We found the CarPlay to work well and a huge improvement over the standard infotainment setup.

Summary

While it’s a bit long in the tooth, the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro offers a classic body on frame SUV and extra capability that can’t be matched. With seating for up to seven, the Toyota Sequoia makes a solid candidate for the ultimate family vehicle or friend hauler. It’s all there: roominess, luxury, off-road dexterity, high towing capacity, packaged in rugged yet elegant Toyota SUV design.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling8
Braking9
Powertrain and Fuel Economy8
Noise8
Headlights8
Interior Fit and Finish9
Seating10
Visibility10
Gauges and Controls9
Infotainment8
Crash-Avoidance9
Total Score87


Make: Toyota
Model: Sequoia
Trim Level: TRD PRO
Engine: 5.7L V8
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: Paint protection film, floor mats, door sill protector

Base Price: $64,030
As-Tested Price: $66,129

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