If you’re in the market for a three-row family SUV, you’re likely to have these two vehicles in your shopping list: Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid Max and the Toyota Sequoia Hybrid, which seat 7/8 passengers.

While both vehicles offer spacious and flexible interiors, ample space for weekend adventures, and towing capability, deciding which one is right for you depends on your specific needs. I’ve experienced the all-wheel drive specifications of both models, and here’s my assessment.

Grand Highlander is anti-minivan

The Grand Highlander’s crossover genes makes it more suitable as a family vehicle compared to the body-on-frame Sequoia.

Steve Gates, Chairman, Toyota National Dealer Advisory Council, says the Toyota Grand Highlander will suit some customers whose families are growing and need something bigger than the Highlander but not a truck model (Sequoia), Automotive News reported on January 26, 2023. Not all buyers desire a minivan (Sienna) either, he added, further profiling the target customer of the new SUV.

Family Hauler vs Adventure-ready SUV

The Grand Highlander should easily carve a place in the line-up, even though the well-established Sequoia has recently received a complete redesign, offering the convenience of seven seats. The Grand Highlander is more of a family hauler designed for road trips, while the Sequoia is for adventurous drives in relatively more challenging driving conditions.

2024 Toyota Sequoia Hybrid front three quarter
The third-gen Toyota Sequoia is targeted towards older millennials and Gen X demographic with children, as well as active empty nesters who remain close to their families.

Based on my experience, ingress and egress are relatively easier in the Grand Highlander compared to the Sequoia. I also felt that the design of shell, door frames, and its ergonomics are more car-like in the Grand Highlander.

The Sequoia targets adventure-minded families with an active lifestyle who get off the beaten path regularly. Its body-on-frame chassis would make it a more robust model than the Grand Highlander. However, the former is lighter and thus easier to drive and maneuver.

Third row space

Although both SUVs provide third-row seating, the Grand Highlander outdoes the Sequoia in third-row headroom and knee room. I’m a six-footer, and when I tried accessing the third row of both the vehicles, I felt that it was not only easier to get in but also the seats and space were much better in the Grand Highlander.

Feature 2024 Grand Highlander Hybrid Max 2024 Sequoia Hybrid
Third row headroom 37.2 in. 35.6 in.
Third row legroom 33.5 in. 28.1 in.
Third row shoulder room 57.5 in. 62.6 in.
Third row hip room 45.7 in. 50.9 in.
Source: Toyota.com pressroom

Fuel efficiency matters

Feature 2024 Grand Highlander Hybrid Max 2024 Sequoia Hybrid
Engine 2.4L 4cyl turbo 3.5l V6 twin-turbo
System Power 362 hp @ 6,000 rpm 437 hp @ 5,200 rpm
System Torque 400 lb-ft @ 2,000 – 3,000 rpm 583 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm
Fuel efficiency (city/highway/combined) 26/27/27 MPG 19/22/20 MPG
Source: Toyota.com pressroom

A big upside of the Grand Highlander is efficiency. It delivers an EPA-est. fuel economy of up to 27 mpg (combined), while the Sequoia can return only up to 20 mpg (combined).

Cargo & Towing

Feature 2024 Grand Highlander Hybrid Max 2024 Sequoia Hybrid
Towing Capacity 5,000 lbs Up to 9,520 lbs (varies by trim)
Cargo Volume (behind first row) 97.5 cu ft 86.9 cu ft
Cargo Space (seats up) 20.6 cu ft 22.3 cu ft
Ground clearance 8.0 in. 8.6 in. (9.1 in. TRD Pro)
Source: Toyota.com pressroom

While the Grand Highlander cannot match the Sequoia’s off-roading and towing capabilities, it actually offers a more usable cargo area. I say this because the Sequoia’s boot floor is stepped, and requires a shelf system to create a flat floor. I was also surprised with the size of the cargo area when all seats are folded in the Grand Highlander.


The Sequoia AWD (starting at USD 64,275) is perfect for American buyers who prioritize power and toque, towing capability, and off-road ability, even if it means sacrificing a little ride comfort. The Grand Highlander Hybrid Max (starting at USD 54,390) isn’t a mud-plugger, but it’s a top choice for a comfortable, fuel-efficient family SUV that offers decent power for everyday driving and occasional towing.

Also See: 2024 Toyota Sequoia Hybrid captivates in Blueprint body color

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