2014 Toyota Sequoia Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 18, 2014

The 2014 Toyota Sequoia has room for eight and strong V-8 towing capacity, but it's pretty thirsty and difficult to maneuver to drive every day.

The 2014 Toyota Sequoia is the Japanese automaker's American-made rival for vehicles like the Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, and Chevy Tahoe. It's based on the Toyota Tundra, and the full-sizer has the specs to tow and carry people along with those big-leaguers. 

But while the domestic-branded SUVs have tried to smooth out and refine their truck-based nature, the Sequoia revels in its truckiness--leading to some compromises in versatility, comfort, and space efficiency against the largest crossover utilities based on passenger-car underpinnings.

Using the the Tundra pickup's tough design, towing process, and macho appearance for a utility vehicle gives the Sequoia a testosterone-tinged look that can appear cartoonishly musclebound to some. If nothing else, it beats the anonymous styling of most minivans--and no crossover can ever hope to rival its tall and truck-based frontal stance.

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The cabin appointments of the Sequoia, predictably, feel like those of a high-end full-size pickup in front, with two more rows of roomy wagon grafted on behind. That means an instrument panel that's functional without looking too plain. For seating, you can specify dual captain's chairs to replace a second-row bench, though 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.

But while the Sequoia may share underpinnings with the Tundra pickup truck, it rides and handles rather 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. 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.

In the past, you could choose from two different V-8 engines for the Sequoia, but last year Toyota discontinued the smaller-displacement (4.6-liter) choice. It's really for the better, as most Sequoia shoppers are towing-minded (tow ratings range up to 7,400 pounds). With 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, the remaining V-8 is a powerhouse. But missing from the Sequoia's factory options list is any serious off-road hardware, or a dedicated off-road model, 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.

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 the mid-$40,000 range up to the mid-$60,000 range. 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 search, Pandora, and others, providing access to entertainment or information through your smartphone's data connection.

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2014 Toyota Sequoia

Styling

It's trying to make a statement with exaggerated styling, but the Sequoia comes off as less confident than those big GM and Ford utes.

A quick glance at the 2014 Toyota Sequoia will tell you all you need to know: it's a brawny, truck-based full-size SUV. Just about everything else on the road is smaller, so shoppers should make sure that they're comfortable behind the wheel before committing.

The design is decidedly masculine–almost cartoonishly so–but its beefy front end has a truck-like gravity that no crossover can match, while its styling remains more handsome than softer minivan alternatives. The high beltline, tall hood, and imposing chrome grille add to the size and bulk, while its chromed mirrors, chunky door handles, rippled sheetmetal and flared fenders all contribute to the musclebound madness. Thanks to the long rear doors, it's pretty easy to enter and exit, as well as put child seats in the middle seats.

Cabin appointments, predictably, feel like those of a high-end full-size pickup from the front seats. The design and some of the materials are carried right over from the Tundra pickup, with matte-metallic plastic trim flowing down from the gauge area and covering part of the center console. Some may find that center-dash treatment a little overstyled, but otherwise the chunky design, with simple large controls and displays, is very functional without looking too plain.

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2014 Toyota Sequoia

Performance

The Sequoia tows thousands of pounds and has smooth drivetrains, but handling is typical for big utility vehicles.

There's only one engine available in the 2014 Toyota Sequoia–a 5.7-liter V-8 that produces 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque–which works well for shoppers who have towing in mind. That V-8 rumbles to life with some serious engine sounds, and nearly all of its torque–90 percent, in fact–is delivered at only 2,200 rpm. That assists with the Sequoia's towing ability, especially in Tow/Haul mode, where it can pull up to 7,400 pounds.

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. This is by no means a maneuverable, city-friendly vehicle, but among large SUVs its 38-foot turning circle is commendable.

And when the load's a little lighter, this is an SUV that can really move; 0-60 mph acceleration can be as quick as 6.7 seconds--better than most other vehicles of this size and capability.

Four-wheel-drive models have a knob-operated electronic two-speed transfer case containing a Torsen limited-slip differential that transmits power to front and rear axles and can be locked with the push of a button. With 4WD, there's also a special A-TRAC active traction control that may provide additional help in limited-traction situations.

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2014 Toyota Sequoia

Comfort & Quality

The Sequoia's interior is something of a letdown, in space efficiency and in fit and finish.

The 2014 Toyota Sequoia is more than just a rugged truck, though; with upscale interior appointments and seating for eight, it can function as an excellent family vehicle, too. However, it's not as spacious or fuel efficient as many of the large crossovers on the market–including Toyota's own Highlander–which can feel just as large inside, despite looking so much smaller from the outside.

Build quality and panel gaps, like on most Toyotas, are near the top-end of the class. Our only gripe is that many of the dials and switchgear carry over from the Tundra pickup, which may be fine for a workhorse but feel a little cheap in the Sequoia. The matte-metallic plastic trim on most of the dash may not sit well with everyone, but items like the heated seats, steering wheel controls, and power tilt/slide moonroof help make up for this.

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. That said, if towing and off-road ability aren't priorities, you're simply going to get a more composed on-the-road experience with a model like the Ford Flex, Chevrolet Traverse, or even the Highlander.

In the first two rows adults will have no problem accommodating even taller adults, and the second row in particular has long doors that make getting in and out easier--although the Sequoia requires a step up. Separately, dual captain's chairs are offered in back, reducing the capacity to seven. Front seats are wide and soft, and they don't provide much if any side support--although we don't anticipate you'll be doing around corners quickly.

The third row is only good for kids or small adults, and it's tougher to get back there--you're not left much legroom and the seating position is too low--although the second row slides forward (or back) 5.9 inches for easier access, or more legroom.

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. A power tailgate is also included on Limited and Platinum grades, and the rear tailgate glass can be operated separately.

The Sequoia isn't quite a luxury vehicle, but it's a thoughtful, well-built one, with plenty of amenities such as cupholders and small bins, and--for families with young kids--materials that are easy to keep clean. Although some of the materials and switchgear carry straight over from the Sequoia, feeling a little cheap here in what's, for the most part, a more expensive vehicle.

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2014 Toyota Sequoia

Safety

Safety scores are lacking for the Sequoia, but the big SUV has more than the usual number of airbags.

Neither the Federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the Sequoia, but its sheer mass and long list of standard safety features should come to its aide in the event of an emergency.

Among larger traditional SUVs, the Sequoia is a standout for airbag protection. It includes not only dual stage advanced front air bags, seat-mounted side airbags for the driver and front passenger, and roll-sensing side curtain airbags for all three seating rows, but also driver and front passenger knee bags.

Stability and traction control systems are included, as well as anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Four-wheel-drive versions of the Sequoia get a special A-TRAC version of the traction control intended to help in low-traction situations. 

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2014 Toyota Sequoia

Features

Toyota's Entune connectivity has made its way into the Sequoia; domestic full-sizers get far more lavish in their top-end trim levels.

The Sequoia can span more than $20,000 across its three available models, starting around $43,000 in the base SR5, and climbing from there with the Limited, or touching nearly $65,000 in the loaded Platinum model.

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 search, Pandora, and others, providing access to entertainment or information through your smartphone's data connection.

Even at the top of the range there are quite a few dealer- or port-installed upgrades--including examples like remote engine start, upgraded TRD brakes, and a front skid plate. Although the Sequoia is missing most other off-road upgrades (look to the Land Cruiser to see why).

Even the SR5 comes well equipped, which comes with automatic tri-zone air conditioning, an eight-speaker stereo, a towing package, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio and climate controls.

On the Limited you get an equipment set that rivals many luxury vehicles, with parking sensors, a power rear liftgate, a power folding third-row seat, and 20-inch alloy wheels, all included, as well as JBL Synthesis sound and Bluetooth audio streaming. And the rearview mirror has a built-in backup monitor (without having to add the navigation system); a map light, auto-dimming feature, and compass are built into it, too.

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2014 Toyota Sequoia

Fuel Economy

Drop the Sequoia from your list if you're remotely concerned about gas mileage.

With its massive size and big V-8 engine, there's no surprise that the Sequoia isn't exactly fuel efficient.

If you're having issues over the Sequoia's gas mileage, GM's full-size SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Sierra, do offer a hybrid option, and Mercedes-Benz’s GL Class can be ordered with a clean diesel.

But it's worth considering that the Sequoia can carry up to eight and tow up to 7,400 pounds. If you're using the Sequoia's full capabilities, then its official EPA rating of 13 mpg in the city and either 17 or 18 mpg on the highway might not be so horrible. Drive the Sequoia empty to work every day, though, and you might be the target of environmentalist scorn. 

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