2017 Sequoia New Car Test Drive
Mildly redesigned for 2015, the subcompact Yaris is Toyota's smallest and least expensive car at U.S. dealerships. For the 2017 model year, Toyota has added a trio of Safety Sense advanced features to hatchback models, including lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic high beams. Otherwise, little has changed on the three- and five-door hatchbacks.
However, a new model, the Yaris iA sedan, joined the lineup for 2017. Formerly known as the Scion iA, the Yaris iA sedan is based upon the Mazda2 (no longer sold in the U.S.). Just one version of the iA sedan is offered, and it is more aggressively designed than Yaris hatchbacks and is more refined.
Designed and built in France, the Yaris hatchbacks come in L, LE, and SE trim levels. Yaris L and LE versions come in three- and five-door form; Yaris SE is five-door only.
Engines are similar for the two body styles, but transmission choices differ sharply. Hatchbacks hold a 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 103 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to either a 5-speed manual gearbox or an ancient, outmoded 4-speed automatic transmission. Sedans contain a similarly rated 1.5-liter four, paired with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. Yaris LE hatchbacks come with 6-speed automatics.
In hatchback form, the Yaris is a traditional subcompact, delivering budget-priced transportation and good gas mileage, but little else. Performance, as expected, ranks as modest, though what Toyota claims is a 'class-leading'? 31.5-foot turning circle helps with agility. Base L models retain rear drum brakes, but others get four-wheel discs.
Significantly more refined, the Yaris iA sedan is more enjoyable to drive than any hatchback. Gas mileage is reasonably good either way, though not top-of-the-class for subcompacts.
The new trio of standard driver-assistance features improves the Yaris hatchback's safety stance, though crash-test scores aren't unblemished. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the hatchback four stars overall. Hatchbacks also earned Good scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, except for Marginal in the small-overlap frontal crash. Sedans got Good scores from IIHS, but Poor in the new headlight test; the iA was declared a Top Safety Pick.
Hatchbacks do not include a rearview camera, but the iA sedan does. Lane-departure alert and automatic high beams are not included in the sedan, and its automatic braking operates only at lower road speeds.
A redesigned Yaris hatchback will arrive as a 2018 model. The Toyota Sequoia is a full-size SUV with three rows of seating, with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. It's traditional in that it's based on a pickup truck, in this case the Tundra; its structure is body-on-frame, in no way a crossover.
Sequoia was a star when it came out in 2007, but it's been a decade with few changes, which makes the 2017 Sequoia very dated compared to the competition, namely the redesigned GM models: Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL.
It's the cabin where the Sequoia feels most behind the times, with leftover plastic materials and lack of features like pushbutton start and USB ports. However only the Sequoia has a power rear window in the liftgate, a nice convenience.
The Sequoia uses the Tundra platform, but its ride is smoother and handling a bit better. There is just one engine, the trusty GM 5.7-liter, here making 381 horsepower 401 pound-feet of torque, mated to an old-school six-speed automatic. The Sequoia doesn't offer any rugged offroad equipment, because the Toyota 4Runner and Land Cruiser cover that so well, and also have three rows of seating available.
With fuel mileage of 15 miles per gallon combined (14 mpg with 4wd), the Sequoia lags even farther behind the times. Its six-speed automatic is fine for transmission duties, maybe even better than some high-tech trannies like the Ford 10-speed, however the main reason for more gears nowadays is fuel mileage. The Sequoia may be bombproof simple, but it pays at the pump. The EPA rates it 13 mpg city and 17 mpg highway for 15 combined.
The 4WD Chevy Tahoe gets 18 mpg combined, and uses a fuel tank of the same size, 26 gallons, so its range is about 468 miles compared to the Sequoia's 364 miles.
The Sequoia hasn't been crash-tested by the feds or insurance people. However one good point is the many airbags: two-stage front bags, knee bags and side bags in front, and roll-sensing side curtains for all three rows. Rearview camera is standard, but auto emergency braking isn't available.
The Sequoia can tow a big boat, but compared to the Toyota Highlander crossover, it's less people friendly.
Yaris L 3-Door ($15,250) and 5-Door ($16,375) come with 5-speed manual shift, 15-inch steel wheels, fabric upholstery, power windows/locks, single-arm wiper, air conditioning, a tilt steering column, 60/40 fold-down rear seat, and cargo cover. Six-speaker audio with a 6.1-inch touchscreen includes HD radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Four-speed automatic is available ($750). (Prices are MSRP and do not include $885 destination charge.)
Yaris LE 3-Door ($16,910) and 5-Door ($17,285) include the 4-speed automatic, chrome-accented black grille, remote keyless entry, cruise control, power mirrors, and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Yaris SE 5-Door ($17,200) comes with manual shift or automatic ($800), a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport analog gauges, rear spoiler, all-disc brakes, and foglamps.
Yaris iA 4-Door ($15,950) has a 6-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic ($1,100), rearview camera, 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome grille surround, power mirrors with turn-signal indicators, keyless entry, air conditioning, pushbutton start, and cruise control. Six-speaker audio includes a 7-inch touchscreen. There are three models: SR5 ($45,560), Limited ($54,350), and Platinum ($62,090). Four-wheel drive is optional ($3,225).
Standard equipment on the Sequoia SR5 includes a 6.1-inch screen for infotainment, eight-way power driver seat, and Bluetooth streaming audio. The Limited adds leather, power liftgate, a power folding third-row seat, parking sensors, JBL audio system, and 20-inch wheels. The Platinum adds adaptive cruise control, navigation, Blu-Ray rear entertainment system with a 9.0-inch screen, and air-conditioned front seats.