By Derek Price
As of 2022, the Toyota Land Cruiser is no longer available in North America. It’s departed for that great off-road park in the sky.
That means the mantle of the biggest, fanciest Toyota off-roader now falls to the vehicle I’m driving this week, the brawny but aging Sequoia.
In many ways, the Sequoia plays the role of a quintessential American SUV better than today’s Ford and General Motors products do. It eschews turbochargers and small-displacement engines in favor of a huge, thirsty V8, the most star-spangled powerplant of them all.
While the Sequoia can’t match the luxury and smoothness of the legendary Land Cruiser — not many vehicles on the planet can, for that matter — it does offer an impressively spacious, comfortable cabin. It’s also a much better value with a starting price of $50,500, about half the cost of a fully equipped Land Cruiser last year.
To me, the Sequoia is aimed squarely at buyers who need one thing: capability.
Its stout, body-on-frame design and ultra-reliable powertrain are built to take a beating both on the dirt and when towing up to 7,400 pounds.
That’s especially true in my tester, the TRD Pro, a species of Sequoia equipped for tackling rugged trails. It comes with Fox internal-bypass shocks that offer a cushy ride on pavement and extreme performance in the wild.
Aggressive off-road tires help generate traction in dirt and mud, and a front TRD Pro skid plate keeps the suspension and oil pan from getting banged up by rocks.
To my eyes, it’s also the best looking of the Sequoia trims. The huge “TOYOTA” grille up front, black accents and Rigid-brand LED fog lamps make it both functional and eye-catching.
Driving the Sequoia is exactly what you would expect from a heavy, off-road-focused truck, with one exception: its turning radius is remarkably small, making it easy to maneuver into tight parking spots.
I could feel every bit of the TRD Pro’s 5,985-pound curb weight through the steering wheel and suspension during my week-long test. It drives even more like a truck than Toyota’s recently redesigned full-size Tundra pickup, oddly enough.
With 381 horsepower, it has plenty of grunt, although — no surprise — you pay the price with a 13-mpg city rating for fuel economy.
The Fox shocks do a good job keeping it relatively level and stable feeling, even under heavy braking.
The Sequoia’s three-row cabin sets a high standard for both space and build quality, but it’s also dated. It doesn’t have the same polish and contemporary, tech-forward look you find inside the bulk of Toyota’s current lineup.
It does come with a long list of standard safety features, though. Every Sequoia, including the base model, is equipped with blind-spot sensors, radar cruise control, lane departure alert and sensors that can detect collisions and pedestrians in front of the vehicle.
Despite the contemporary tech, the Sequoia continues to feel like more of an outlier with each passing year. Now that even the Tundra has dumped V8 engines in favor of turbos and hybrid-electric motors, one has to wonder how much longer the ruggedly reliable Sequoia can continue in its current form.
For people who love the power, sound and smoothness of a V8, let’s hope it’s a very long time.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2022 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro 4×4 ($64,625). Options: TRD performance exhaust ($1,050), door sill protector ($55), universal tablet holder ($99), glass breakage sensor ($299). Price as tested (including $1,365 destination charge): $67,493
Wheelbase: 122 in.
Length: 205.1 in.
Width: 79.9 in.
Height: 77 in.
Engine: 5.7-liter V8 (381 hp, 401 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 13 city, 17 highway
Why buy it?
It’s the most spacious, capable Toyota you can buy in 2022. It has serious off-road credentials and the ability to tow 7,400 pounds, along with a great reputation for longevity.