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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.
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.