Driven: Sequoia delivers on home-school field trip assignment

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro is one mean, green menacing machine

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2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro wears special Army Green paint and is ready for any family-hauling duty, even a field trip to the Car Forest | Larry Edsall photos

Weighing in at nearly 6,000 pounds, and with a stance enhanced by off-road suspension and black wheels, and with an appearance that features a roof-mounted luggage rack and aggressive Rigid-brand fog lamps — and what about that “Army Green” paint! — the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro version we drove for a week certainly looked the part of a mean, green menacing machine.

Talk about menacing: The front edge of the hood stands 44 inches proud of the road surface — that’s 4 inches taller than a Ford GT40’s roofline — and the trailing edge of the hood at the cowl towers 4 1/2 feet tall. 

Turns out, however, that this, the first Sequoia with a TRD Pro setup, also can be something of a gentle giant, what with seating for seven and an upgraded audio system that offers Android Auto, Apple Carplay and Amazon Alexa compatibility.

“Outdoor adventure for seven is about to go farther off the beaten path than ever with the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro,” Toyota proclaimed as it unveiled the vehicle, adding that family trips were about to get “more adventurous.”

TRD Pro treatments aren’t new, Toyota Racing Development has been applying its expertise to the company’s trucks and SUVs for a while. But the 2020 model year is the first time the company has offered a TRD Pro version of the Sequoia (though only in the 7-seat configuration, Sequoia also is available with seating for 8).

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The Pro package includes Rigid fog lamps, Fox shocks, Multi-Mode 4WD as standard equipment, 18-inch TRD wheels by BBS in black, blacked-out grille, black cast-aluminum running boards, front skit plate and roof rack, and Michelin LTX A/T tires. The vehicle we drove also had a TRD performance exhaust system that enhanced the SUV’s menacing appearance.

Army Green is a TRD Pro exclusive color, but you can get the package on Sequoias wearing more normal colors — white, black metallic or gray metallic.

Excluding the TRD Pro stuff, the 2020 Sequoia comes with a 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, and with a locking center differential. The SUV is set up for towing, including trailer-sway control technology. Also standard is Toyota’s Safety Sense system with radar cruise control, backup camera, cross-traffic alert, etc.

There’s a moonroof over the front seats, premium audio with JBL speakers, satellite radio, 3-zone climate controls, leather, etc. No one, not even the 6-foot-1 14-year-old, complained about a lack of leg room; even with the split third-row seat upright and occupied, there’s nearly 19 cubic feet of room for stuff between the seat back and the rear hatch.

We were surprised that the radio/navigation screen spans only 7 inches and seems too small for such a large vehicle. I suspect that the screen signifies  that the current generation of Sequoia was introduced as a 2008 model.

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Though a large vehicle, the Sequoia was impressively nimble. The V8 not only provides 381 horsepower but 401 pound-feet of torque, and on one stretch of desert 2-lane, we swept out into the left lane and zoomed past a caravan comprised of a truck, four delivery-style vans and the pokey and overloaded old compact pickup truck that was slowing everyone’s progress as it struggled to maintain 50 mph, 20 below the posted limit.

Although we didn’t do any serious off-roading, we did do a more than 400-mile roundtrip from the Las Vegas valley to Goldfield, Nevada, and the International Car Forest of the Last Church, an amazing automotive art array we viewed both on foot and via several dirt trails up and down the surrounding hills. The Sequoia took to those hills like a spaniel to water, emerging not wet but certainly dusty.

Sequoia pricing starts at $49,980 for the SR5 in 2-wheel drive, or at $53,205 as a 4×4. The model lineup for 2020 also includes the TRD Sport (with seating for 8), the Limited, the TRD Pro, and the Platinum, which has a base price of $69,245 in 4×4 guise. 

2020 Toyota Sequoia 4×4 TRD Pro

Vehicle type: 7-passenger sport utility vehicle, 4-wheel drive

Base price: $64,030 Price as tested: $65,325

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Engine: 5.7-liter V8, 381 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm, 401 pound-feet of torque @ 3,600 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 122.0 inches Overall length/width: 205.1 inches / 79.9 inches

Curb weight: 5,985 pounds

EPA mileage estimates: 13 city / 17 highway / 14 combined

Assembled in: Princeton, Indiana

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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