2013 Toyota Sequoia Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
October 11, 2012

The 2013 Toyota Sequoia promises--and delivers--traditional truck toughness, packing macho style and a big V-8, as well as space for up to eight; but it's mighty thirsty to be a everyday family vehicle.

The 2013 Toyota Sequoia sets its sights squarely at what used to be one of the hearts of the market for GM and Ford; as a traditional full-size SUV, it's based on the same underpinnings as the Toyota Tundra full-size pickup, extending the Tundra's macho look and towing prowess into a vehicle that can also carry a big family in comfort.

Take even a brief look at the Sequoia, and you'll know what it is: a full-size SUV, and a brawny truck. The testosterone-tinged look of the Sequoia may appear somewhat cartoonishly musclebound for some, though it beats the almost anonymous styling of most minivans, and has a high, serious-truck look from the front that no crossover can rival. Cabin appointments, predictably, feel like those of a high-end full-size pickup from the front seats, grafted with two more rows of roomy wagon, and the instrument panel is functional without looking too plain.

Previously you could choose from two different V-8 engines for the Sequoia, but for 2013 Toyota has discontinued the smaller-displacement (4.6-liter) choice. And it's really for the better, as most Sequoia shoppers are towing-minded (tow ratings range up to 7,400 pounds), and with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, the V-8 is a powerhouse. The Sequoia shares its underpinnings with the Tundra pickup truck, but it rides and handles somewhat better. A four-wheel independent suspension helps keep the Sequoia stable through corners for the most part, although rough patches--whether pavement patches or gravel-road washboards--can upset its composure.

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The 2013 Toyota Sequoia isn't only a truck. With seating for eight and interior appointments that can look and feel quite upscale, this is a vehicle that can also work for the family--provided you don't expect quite the same level of space-efficiency, versatility, and comfort of some of crossover utility vehicle designs--including Toyota's own Highlander, which is quite a bit smaller on the outside but can feels nearly as large (or more so) inside. Dual captain's chairs are offered in place of a bench in the second row if you want, but it reduces the capacity to seven. Both the second- and third-row seatbacks can be folded forward to a flat cargo floor, with the second row split in three portions (40/20/40) and the third row in two (60/40). Storage space is ample once the third-row seats are folded in place, which is made easy thanks to a power-folding option.

Ride quality is good for a body-on-frame truck, thanks to the independent rear suspension system--with the ride even a step more composed with the active variable air suspension (AVS) system in the Platinum model. Road and wind noise feel quite well sealed-away, too.

From base and SR5 models, to the mid-level Limited trim, and up to the luxury-packed Platinum, the Sequoia spans more than $20k, running from around $43k up to about $64k--and that's before adding any of the various official dealer-installed accessories. At the top of the lineup is the Sequoia Platinum, which adds Dynamic Laser Cruiser Control, a DVD touch-screen navigation system, and a new Blu-Ray rear entertainment system with a 9-inch LCD screen and two sets of wireless headphones. A 12-way adjustable power driver’s seat, heated second-row seats, and the load-leveling air suspension with three driver-selectable modes are also all included.

Standard on the Platinum grade and available on SR5 and Limited is a new Entune multimedia system that provides access to apps for Bing seatch, Pandora, and others, providing access to entertainment or information through your smartphone's data connection.

Missing, rather oddly, from the Sequoia's factory options list is serious off-road hardware, or a dedicated off-road model (even though 4WD is widely available through the model line). It all makes sense when you see the much pricier Toyota Land Cruiser across the lot.
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