2021 Toyota Sequoia 4x4 Nightshade Special Edition - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
More Functional than a Swiss Army Knife
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
At one end of the automotive spectrum, Toyota builds cutting edge sports cars like the all new 3,000 pound Supra. At the very other end of their model range sits the three ton Sequoia SUV. While the tightly wrapped Supra is great for a one day dalliance, it's the spacious Sequoia that will keep your whole family coming back month after month for this do-it-all home on wheels. During our well-utilized week with the stealthy looking Nightshade Sequoia (base price $63,345), we stayed very busy indeed. First job was to pick up 750 pounds of patio bricks and sand at Home Depot. Next, we transported 200 pounds of tightly wrapped yard clippings to the local dump. The optional $373 all-weather liners, cargo mats and door sill protectors made it a snap to clear any interior debris after each job run.
Between work assignments, we spent countless hours enjoying the Sequoia's back seat theater, viewing a 4-disc "Great Courses" video about George Orwell. Our test truck was equipped with a slick $1,920 Blue Ray Disc Player which provided a fold-down 9-inch display screen, two wireless headphones, and a wireless remote. In a pandemic year when every movie theater has been closed indefinitely, you couldn't ask for a better screening room than the luxurious twin captain's chairs of the Sequoia's second row. You don't even have to idle the engine to run the video system.
The one similarity that struck us about all these different uses was the ease with which the Sequoia's cabin can be reconfigured. For example, the third row seating which will accommodate three adults, can be folded flat in a matter of seconds via electric controls. The optional cargo liner completely covers and protects the folded third bench. When we needed the full length of the interior to stow the bagged yard debris, we were able to flatten the second row captain's chairs by simply lifting a button located on the chair backs. An ingenious flap affixed to each chair folds open to bridge the gap between the second and third row seats and provide an unobstructed loading floor. With this configuration, you can carry objects up to 11 feet in length.
You don't buy the Sequoia for driving pleasure. It's simply too big and heavy for that, with its curb weight of 6,440 pounds, and its length of 205 inches. Driving it in close urban quarters makes you feel like the transit lanes are too narrow, the parking spots too small, and the opportunities for one cut U-Turns too infrequent. But thanks to Toyota's installation of its top line 3UR-FE V8 engine, horsepower and torque are always present in abundance. This behemoth will cut a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds, run the standing start quarter mile in 15.2 seconds, and top out at 115mph. Of course, given the 5.7 liter's penchant for gas, you'll be spending $7,000 more for fuel over 5 years than the average new vehicle because the EPA rating for overall driving is 14MPG. Toyota recommends filling the 26.4 gallon tank with 91 octane, so a fill up will cost over a hundred bucks. That C-Note will buy you a freeway range of about 470 miles.
The Nightshade Special Edition makes the bulky shape of this SUV look less conspicuous. This sleight of design is accomplished by replacing chrome accessories with black substitutes. Toyota increases wheel rim diameter from 18 inches on stock Sequoias to 20x8J inches on the Nightshade, where split spoke velvet black rims mount beefy Bridgestone Dueler radials (275/55R20). A dark chrome grill, black door handles, mirror housings, and badging all match the midnight wheel treatment. Full black leather seating surfaces tie the interior of the cabin to the understated exterior. Our test sample looked particularly good in Magnetic Gray Metallic. You can also select Midnight Black or Wind Chill Pearl for the exterior of your Nightshade Sequoia.
Since the Sequoia has gone more than a full styling cycle without a major redo, some aspects of the interior are showing their age. In particular, the small 7 inch touchscreen for the infotainment and navigation systems seems dated. But we very much liked the oversize knurled knobs for controlling the HVAC system. The forthright layout of the instrument binnacle, with all major engine parameters accounted for, offers a welcome source of information that is increasingly rare these days.
Sequoia is eminently well equipped to conquer rough terrain , wet roads, or heavy snow with an exceptionally sophisticated 4 wheel drive system that features a locking center differential. This Toyota shares tough body-on-frame construction and fully independent front and rear suspension with its fraternal twin, the Tundra pickup truck. So rest assured, this home on wheels will get you just about anywhere you need to go.
2021 TOYOTA SEQUOIA 4x4 NIGHTSHADE SPECIAL EDITION
ENGINE: 5.7 liter V8, DOHC, 32 valves, with Dual Independent VVT-i
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 13MPG City/17MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $68,273
HYPES: More Functional than a Swiss Army Knife
GRIPES: Pizzazz-Free Interior
STAR RATING: 8.5 Stars out of 10