The 2012 Toyota Sequoia is the best-reviewed large SUV. While the primary competition, such as the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe ((Base MSRP: $38,530 to $55,850)), isn't far behind, the Sequoia's blend of key attributes gives it the edge. The Sequoia's ability to blend excellent ride quality and on-road dynamics with powerful towing and good cargo capacity make it the ideal choice among large SUVs, minimizing the category's typical drawbacks. Reviewers find little to complain about, but most point out that a midsize crossover may make more sense for the majority of buyers than a jumbo vehicle like the Sequoia.
The Sequoia's default engine option is a 4.6-liter V8 that produces 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque. It's "no slouch, particularly if you won't be maxing out your SUV's payload and towing capacities on a regular basis," according to Edmunds.com. Most reviewers test the optional 5.7-liter V8 that makes 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque; this engine provides quick acceleration, and Autoblog.com summarizes the experience nicely, pointing out that this V8 "certainly facilitates rapid attainment of highway velocities, and will barely flinch when hooked up to any trailer a sane person would feel comfortable hauling."
That bit of hyperbole has a good dose of truth to it as the 5.7-liter engine can haul 7,400 pounds without any extra towing options, and the 4.6-liter V8 can still pull 6,900 pounds. To aid in towing, all 2012 Sequoias have standard trailer sway control, which uses the electronic stability control sensors to help correct any tracking irregularities that result from wandering trailers. There are other large SUVs with even higher tow capacities if necessary, but all have shortcomings that make them less ideal than the Sequoia's all-around package.
Both two-wheel and four-wheel drive configurations of the Sequoia are available, and both achieve similar fuel-economy numbers. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the base 4.6-liter V8 will deliver 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway/16 mpg combined with two-wheel drive and a slightly lower 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway/15 mpg combined with four-wheel drive. The more powerful 5.7-liter V8 gets an estimated 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway/15 mpg combined when optioned with two-wheel drive and one less on the highway and combined with the four-wheel drive drivetrain. All configurations feature six-speed automatic transmission.
Ride quality is calm and composed, and many reviewers opine that the Sequoia is one of the best handling large SUVs, period. Edmunds Inside Line says that "even with the optional 20-inch wheels, the Sequoia barely acknowledges pavement imperfection," largely a result of the air-controlled multi-link independent rear suspension. That same review goes on to marvel that "interior noise levels are as quiet as some luxury sedans we've tested." Testers have mixed opinions on the steering feel -- some say it's just right, while others say it's too light.
A well-designed interior keeps the critics happy as well. Autoblog.com describes it by noting that "aesthetic bliss might be a little stymied by Toyota's choice of materials," but goes on to say that "the colors and conservative design of the interior are handsome and functional." From a fit-and-finish perspective, most reviewers agree that it's good overall and about average for the class. Ergonomics are generally good but not completely without flaw, as some reviewers gripe about the placement of controls.
Interior packaging and flexibility are well done in the Sequoia. Front passengers have plenty of room, and the reclining second row slides fore and aft. In a four-car comparison organized by Truck Trend, all four judges deemed the Toyota's second- and third-row seats to be the best for usability and comfort "even though it trailed some of the others' dimensions for headroom and legroom."
The Sequoia can accommodate a maximum of 120.1 cubic feet of cargo, even though it is physically smaller than most of the competition. To get more space for cargo, one generally needs to seek out an extended wheelbase competitor such as the Chevrolet Suburban ((Base MSRP: $41,995 to $57,890)) or GMC Yukon XL (Base MSRP: $57,450). To achieve maximum cargo capacity, the third-row seat folds flat into the floor (there's an optional power-folding feature, too).
Standard equipment includes amenities like automatic three-zone climate control, an eight-speaker stereo with Bluetooth, and seating for eight. Many reviewers sampled the Limited trim level, which has a list of standard features that is "really too long to describe" according to Edmunds Inside Line. That list includes leather seating, a 14-speaker JBL audio system, rear sunshades and rear parking sensors, among other niceties. A power liftgate is also available as is a DVD entertainment system.
The 2012 Toyota Sequoia hasn't been fully crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. NHTSA provides a rollover resistance rating of 4 out of 5 stars, which is better than most of the competition. The Sequoia's standard safety features include front airbags, front-seat mounted side airbags, full-length curtain airbags that span all rows of seating, electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes and electronic brake assist. Curtain airbags are available as an option.
The 2012 Sequoia comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and reliability is expected to be average, much like its competitors, according to one major survey.
Truck Trend summarizes the Sequoia neatly in listing its credentials: "sport-sedan acceleration, luxury-car comfort, and tugboat towing make this new Toy the best of the bigs."
Edmunds.com reviews the 2012 Sequoia and summarizes that its "class-leading refinement, versatility and user-friendly features" make it "one of the top picks among full-size SUVs." The flat-folding third-row seats are seen as a nice touch. Even though it is the best of its breed, the editors point out that a midsize crossover or SUV may still make more sense for most shoppers.
Review: 2012 Toyota Sequoia, Editors of Edmunds.com, Jan. 24, 2012
In addition to a full road test of the 2012 Toyota Sequoia, ConsumerReports.org also offers reliability data, depreciation forecasts and ownership satisfaction reports. Content on ConsumerReports.org requires a subscription to view.
Review: Toyota Sequoia, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
ConsumerGuide.com editors give the 2012 Sequoia their Recommended rating (but not the highest Best Buy rating) after testing it. Feedback is provided in brief synopses.
Review: 2012 Toyota Sequoia: Road Test, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com, Not Dated
FuelEconomy.gov is run by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, which is the government body that assesses every new vehicle's fuel economy. The four-wheel drive 2012 Toyota Sequoia gets an estimated 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway/15 mpg combined with its 4.6-liter V8 and slightly less with the 5.7-liter V8. These are both a bit lower than its main competition. Two-wheel drive models do slightly better in overall fuel economy.
Review: 2012 Sport Utility Vehicles, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, Not Dated
5. Motor Trend
This is a Motor Trend review of the 2011 Toyota Sequoia, which is nearly identical to the 2012 model. The ride and steering are deemed "very car-like," impressive for this class. The solid engine performance and driving experience make the Sequoia a top choice.
Review: First Drive: 2011 Toyota Sequoia Platinum, Benson Kong, May 13, 2011
This review on Cars.com was originally published by MotherProof.com, which provided reviews with a focus on family friendliness. The reviewer notes that the doors of the Sequoia are light for their size, making them easy for small children to handle. Overall, the vehicle is deemed to be quite capable as a family hauler thanks to its passenger comfort and cargo capacity.
Review: 2011 Toyota Sequoia, Courtney Messenbaugh, Oct. 4, 2011
7. Kelley Blue Book
The editors of Kelley Blue Book provide a quick overview of the Sequoia, including details about trim levels and their favorite aspects of the car. As is typical of Kelley Blue Book's reviews, the post is light on criticism.
Review: 2012 Toyota Sequoia Review, Editors of KBB.com, Not Dated
8. Truck Trend
While this review is from 2008, the models sampled here are, for the most part, very similar to their 2012 counterparts as the large SUV segment has received less attention from automakers. (The Chevrolet Tahoe has since made a six-speed automatic transmission standard). The Toyota Sequoia is crowned the winner here for "sport-sedan acceleration, luxury-car comfort and tugboat towing."
Review: Full-size SUV Comparison: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2008 Ford Expedition vs. 2008 Nissan Armada vs. 2008 Toyota Sequoia, Ron Kiino, June 2008
This Autoblog.com review is from 2008, but the Sequoia is still largely the same as the model reviewer Dan Roth sampled, aside from a bit more power and trim changes. Roth admits that the Sequoia's heft is evident in the turns, though it is admirably controlled. Roth describes the powertrain as incredible and concludes that the Sequoia is "a capable vehicle that's overkill for the suburbs, but at home on the range."
Review: Review: 2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited, Dan Roth, March 7, 2008
TheTruthAboutCars.com's review of the 2008 Toyota Sequoia ends with the statement that the Sequoia is "a bland-looking, gargantuan, comfortable SUV with a five-star engine, a two-star interior and lousy handling dynamics." Many other reviewers would disagree on a few of these points though.
Review: 2008 Toyota Sequoia [Platinum] Review, William C Montgomery, March 10, 2008
11. Edmunds Inside Line
The Sequoia impresses all-around, as the editors "didn't expect that this 2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited 4x4 would ride so comfortably and handle so delicately, or that it would prove so quick." This reviewer says that with few exceptions the Sequoia "appears to be the best all-around eight-passenger SUV available."
Review: Full Test: 2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited 4x4, Chris Walton, Jan. 16, 2008
Reviewer Jason Fogelson likes the Toyota Sequoia for the same reasons that most others do: plenty of power, towing capabilities, seating for eight and top-notch ergonomics. Against the large SUV competition, the Sequoia "stands strong" and is seen as the best option around. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: 2011 Toyota Sequoia, Jason Fogelson, Not Dated