Second Place: Toyota Sequoia SR5
Finesse, Toyota be thy name. Sometimes it's the quiet ones that you have to watch for. The Sequoia first came on the scene in 2001, quickly eclipsing Toyota's long-standing SUV flagship, the Land Cruiser. The Tundra-based Sequoia has racked up its share of accolades in the ensuing years from product-ranking services such as J.D. Power and IntelliChoice.
Parking a Sequoia in your driveway isn't likely to draw many curious onlookers. Nor will a dry-cleaning run empty out a nearby Starbucks. Inside and out, the Sequoia is generic Toyota. If you like the down-home look of Camrys and Tundras, the Sequoia won't disappoint. There are no nasty surprises; just solid, take-it-to-the-bank Toyota goodness.
The key is product development and superb execution. Even though the Sequoia is the second-oldest SUV in this comparo, it nails second place without working up a sweat. Its specifications--fully welded and boxed ladder frame, double-wishbone front suspension, multilink coil-spring suspension with a live rear axle--could describe any number of its competitors' SUVs. It's not so much the pieces as the way Toyota puts them all together.
Thanks to a cacophony-free cabin (tied with the Durango for quietest in our testing), Lexus-quality ride comfort, as well as pleasantly balanced and predictable road handling, the dark-horse Sequoia earned more editorial praise as the miles piled on. Notes one staffer, "The Sequoia shifts smoothly and corners with composure and tenacity." Another says, "Although the Sequoia's 4.6-liter V-8 has the smallest displacement of the bunch, it's happy to work hard and likes to rev quickly when asked to." In our testing, the Sequoia's grippy Dunlop AT20 Grandtrek tires helped the large SUV best its competitors in lateral grip and stopping distance.