Skip to main content

2021 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro Review: A Competent Family SUV

The Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro doesn’t really go off-roading. It’s too big for that. Instead, it basically pulverizes rocks, dirt, and any trees in its path to get to its destination. At roughly 6,000 pounds, 205.1 inches long, and 79.9 inches wide, I wasn’t quite sure what I thought would happen when we set off down a tight trail. But, going off-roading was the original plan and there was no better way to see if the off-roading renovations Toyota made to the Sequoia had worked. It only took a few minutes to realize that a small, winding trail through a dense forest is not the best place to test the Sequoia TRD Pro.

In fact, if that’s what you plan to do with your Sequoia TRD Pro, you should look elsewhere. It’s just too big, too old, too unsophisticated. My sister, bless her heart, has never gone off-roading. Bing, a light went off in my head, and I immediately thought that a full-size SUV with seats that are similarly sized to a Lay-Z-Boy and a cushy ride rivaling a Carnival Cruise ship would be perfect for a first-timer. What it actually was, was a white-knuckle experience to try and keep the Sequoia TRD Pro on a path that was just barely wide enough to accommodate the SUV.

Related Videos

Toyota’s TRD Pro stamp is a rarity – saved for only the most capable off-roaders that have been combed over with tried-and-true performance parts. Currently, there are only four TRD Pro trims available with a Toyota badge. If you’re the kind of person that wants to explore the great outdoors in a full-size SUV with space for the entire family, you’re really only looking at one option: the Sequoia TRD Pro.

In automotive years, which are exponentially quicker than ones for TV shows, the Sequoia has been around for a lot longer than its own good. The last time the Sequoia was redesigned was 12 years ago in 2008 when Breaking Bad premiered on AMC. Some people, all of whom are wrong, think the show went on for too long, but it was only on the air for five years. After a much longer 12 years, there’s a general consensus that the Sequoia’s been on sale for far too long. It’s The Walking Dead of SUVs.

Doing what anyone else would to keep a model fresh, Toyota dug into its parts bin to introduce a potent TRD Pro trim. Toyota seems to have perfectly timed the release of the Sequoia TRD Pro to line up with the off-roading, overlanding mania that’s going around. If the 381-horsepower V8, six-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy figures, interior, and exterior design are ancient, what’s new with the TRD Pro trim?

Well, it’s a bunch of stuff you can’t see and won’t really appreciate unless you plan to go off-roading. Front and rear Fox shocks, a heavy-duty skid plate, a cat-back exhaust, 18-inch BBS wheels, Michelin all-terrain tires, and Rigid fog lights are included. The 2020 model also comes in Army Green, one of the best colors on the market. Interestingly, the rest of the hardware and software are untouched. So, the four-wheel-drive system remains the same and there’s the same limited-slip differential. Unlike the 4Runner TRD Pro, the Sequoia misses out on Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control.

Beyond its physical size, we quickly ran into an issue on the trail. On a relatively steep incline with 4HI engaged, the Sequoia TRD Pro spun its wheels as it searched for traction. With a patient approach of traveling down the hill in reverse for a bit and then choosing a slightly better route, we made it past our first obstacle than occurred within the first five minutes of venturing off tarmac. Once at the top of the hill, we checked tire pressures. At 36 psi on all four corners, the tires were well above the recommended pressure of 30 psi. We lowered them to the right amount and set back off.

Without Hill Descent Control, Crawl Control, or Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select system, going is tough and slow. We’re mostly relying on a steady right foot, traction control, and choosing good routes. With 10 inches of ground clearance, there aren’t too many rocks that give us cause for concern, but branches, boulders, and other natural fauna that make the trail narrower are more than just annoyances, they’re deal-breakers. Hit one of them, and you’re left staring at a gash along the entire side of the body. Better just to take your time to get out of the SUV and check clearances before moving forward.

We do that often. Mercifully, without much traffic, we make it through the Tasker’s Gap trail in less than two hours, much quicker than our time in the Toyota RAV4 Off-Road. Beyond a slight hiccup every now and then, as the Sequoia TRD Pro struggles to find traction over a large rock, leaving its body creaking, swaying violently, and moaning for smoother terrain, it’s comfortable, but slow going. Having the skid plate at the front helps immensely, as do the suspension updates, but the Sequoia TRD Pro is really pummeling the terrain, bending it to its will, not necessarily tackling it with grace.

Once the terrain evens out, and rock gives way to uneven dirt, the Sequoia TRD Pro feels more content. This is the kind of stuff it could tackle all day. And in this sense, the SUV finally starts to make sense. If you’ve got the family with you and a dog in the back, who will certainly enjoy the power window in the tailgate, it’s hardly unlikely you’ll be hitting a trail. Instead, you’ll probably be out, searching for a camping spot to get away from the bustle of regular life. Providing you can find a campsite or path that’s wide enough, the Sequoia TRD Pro will get you there just fine, while the Army Green paint job will make you feel like you’re part of the Ninja Turtles.

Editors' Recommendations

The 6 best sports cars under $50K: Get an amazing ride without breaking the bank
These six cars prove that you don’t have to be a millionaire to get a fun sports car 
affordable sports cars under 50k 2023 nissan z 2

Everyone thinks that they have to win the lottery to get into a sports car, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sports cars come in all shapes and sizes. As long as you’re willing to compromise on performance and size, you can get into a sports car at a relatively affordable price. 
Sure, most sports cars that cost less than $50,000 aren’t nearly as powerful as those with six-figure price tags, but that doesn’t make them any worse. Plus, there’s nothing like pushing a small, underpowered car to its limits. It certainly beats trying to stay in control of a high-powered machine. If you’re looking for cheap sports cars on a budget of $50,000, here are our top six choices.

Toyota GR Supra 2.0 – $45,135 
The six-cylinder Toyota GR Supra may get all of the praise, but the four-cylinder version of the sports car is mighty impressive. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder delivers 255 horsepower. That may not sound like a lot, but the GR Supra 2.0 can still get to 60 mph in roughly 4.5 seconds, which is mega-quick. Plus, it feels nearly as quick around corners with handling that’s just as sharp. The GR Supra 2.0 is proof that more power doesn’t necessarily result in a substantially better sports car.

Read more
The 10 most expensive collector cars in the world
Forget about six figures — these seven-, eight-, and nine-figure collector cars drew a lot of attention last year
1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR “Uhlenhaut Coupé” overhead image with the gullwing doors open from behind in a white studio.

Last year was a great year for automakers. Luxury brands like Rolls-Royce and Bentley saw their profits skyrocket. The rich got richer and decided to spend more money on cars than ever. While most people were having a hard time finding a car or worrying about how they would be able to afford a large dealer markup, collectors spent ludicrous amounts of money on classic cars.
According to, the top 10 most expensive collector’s cars that sold at auction last year represented a total of $250 million in sales. The most "affordable" car sold at auction for $7,595,000, while the most expensive one was $146,588,400. These are the top 10 most expensive collector cars that sold at auction in 2022.

1954 Ferrari 375 America Vignale Cabriolet – $7,595,000
Ferrari was a much different automaker in the 1950s than it is today. The Italian marque focused a lot more on grand tourers back then, and the Ferrari 375 America is an excellent example of that. The 375 America featured a detuned version of the Lampredi engine from the 375 MM racecar and arrived as a replacement for the 342 America. It was built in incredibly low numbers, as Ferrari only built 10 375 Americas, though two more vehicles that started off as 250 Europas were converted at the factory later on. Buyers had their choice of a few coachwork upgrades from Pinin Farina and Vignale, but what makes this car so special is that it was the only vehicle to have coachwork done by Vignale and be a cabriolet.
This car’s history is also remarkable. The vehicle was personally sold by Enzo Ferrari to Bianca Colizzi, film director Giuseppe Colizzi’s daughter. Remarkably, the vehicle has matching numbers for its engine, gearbox, rear axle, and bodywork. Additionally, it still has its original factory hard top.

Read more
MINI announces 2024 lineup: more manuals, more options, more fun
The manual transmission was once dead, but Mini will offer seven different models with a manual in 2024
2024 Mini Cooper Family parked in front of old British buildings on a paved road.

Not too long ago, we thought BMW Mini was officially done with the manual transmission. Supply chain issues during the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Mini wasn’t able to offer a vehicle with a manual gearbox in the U.S. Then, Mini brought the manual back in three models in October 2022 and announced a new driving school to teach people how to drive a car with a manual transmission. Mini just announced changes to its 2024 lineup, and the automaker will have seven models that are available with a six-speed manual soon. In other words, Mini’s bringing fun back.
Sticking with the news on the availability of a manual transmission, the seven models that will be available with a six-speed gearbox include: Cooper 2-Door Hardtop, Cooper S 2-Door Hardtop, John Cooper Works 2-Door Hardtop, Cooper Convertible, Cooper S convertible, Cooper 4-Door Hardtop, and Cooper S 4-Door Hardtop. Production of these manual-equipped Minis will begin on March 1.


Read more