Stick Shift: 2018 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport

photo via: Toyota

In the heavily forested automotive landscape, the Toyota Sequoia is a true SUV giant. Built on a full-size truck frame, it rides tall, stretches wide and feels sturdy. But with no major updates in a decade, it’s running the risk of becoming as dated as the centuries old tree it’s named after. Thankfully, 2018 doesn’t come totally void of change. The front end has been freshened up a bit, a necessary update considering the Sequoia has looked the same since its last big transformation in 2008. New standard active safety equipment like adaptive cruise control and lane-departure alert can be found as well. Biggest change of all though, and the one that most directly concerns me, is the introduction of the all new TRD Sport trim.

This new trim package is most obvious from the outside, where TRD Sport black satin side-door badges and special black grille inserts set it apart from the rest. That’s not even mentioning the striking 20” black alloy wheels. The rear taillights receive a smokey treatment, the mirrors are caped in black and the front bumper is even specific to the TRD Sport trim. All of these cosmetic enhancements help create an aggressive, shadowy new Sequoia that’s never looked better.

The same 5.7L i-Force V8 continues to power Toyota’s biggest SUV, churning out 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. This provides ample power and 7400 lb towing capacity. It’s a gas guzzler though, at 14 combined miles per gallon. While the TRD Sport trim doesn’t bolt-on any extra power, it does tighten up the handling with Bilstein shocks and TRD anti-sway bars at both the front and rear axles. The expected body roll in slow, tight corners can be found, but the ride felt composed overall, without letting you completely forget that your riding on a truck frame.

Photo via: Toyota

Climb way up into the Toyota’s interior and you’ll immediately appreciate its spacious cabin and above-average cargo capacity. Unfortunately, it seems that in an effort to give second row passengers lots of leg room, the driver and front passenger can only scoot back so far, putting tall people at a disadvantage. Also, the interior quality in general falls behind its rivals. Storage compartments are plentiful, but positioned awkwardly and made of cheap plastic. The use of this same cheap plastic isn’t limited to small storage compartments either, but can be found in depressing abundance throughout, and in a sad variety of low-cost textures and finishes. Knobs, door handles and dials have a light, disconnected feel to them as well. It’s a shame that a stronger effort wasn’t made to match the impressive aesthetic of the outside with what we find on the inside. The 2018 model year did update the old, antiquated dashboard with a revised 6.1” High Resolution touchscreen display and new gauge cluster, but they needed to take the improvements much farther.

While the new Toyota Sequoia remains in need of a serious overhaul, especially on the inside, the new TRD Sport trim adds plenty of visual appeal from without. It’ll comfortably transport seven, boasts plenty of towing prowess and lots of cargo room. A locking center differential, good ground clearance, powerful V8 and capable, multi-mode 4WD system will make easy work of any adventure you want to drag the family along for. Its got a good foundation, begging to be improved upon.

By: Brandon Randall

Price as Tested: $59,873.00

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