Like its namesake, Toyota's Sequoia is big. Surprisingly, though, at 205.1 inches long, it's stubbier than some of its competition, and, at 74.6 inches tall, it's also shorter. Due to intelligent packaging and Toyota's usual dose of overengineering, the Sequoia's tidy exterior dimensions don't translate to tight interior quarters. In our second- and third-row useability tests, all judges found the Toyota very roomy and comfortable. Moreover, the fold-flat second row not only features a relaxing recline function, but also a slide mechanism for effortless entry and exit. And the power-folding third row? Passengers can recline back there, too.
Not that the Sequoia's seats really need a recline function. With 381 horses and 401 pound-feet emanating from a 5.7-liter i-Force V-8, the Toyota can push passengers into their seatbacks with what seems like enough energy to recline to the floor. Mash the throttle, and the Sequoia eclipses 60 in only 6.2 seconds and the quarter mile in just 14.7 at 93.7 mph. Remember the comparison-winning Camry SE V-6 from February? It wasn't any quicker to 60 and only 0.1 second speedier in the quarter. If we hadn't filled the Sequoia with 87-octane ourselves, we'd have thought it runs on Miracle-Gro. Amazingly, however, even with its large, powerful engine and heavy curb weight (6003 pounds), the Toyota achieves good fuel economy, a testament to the well-sorted six-speed automatic.
That six-speed, by the way, also has a dedicated manual mode. "It lets you summon up- or downshifts with a proper fore-aft sport gate," notes MT editor-at-large Arthur St. Antoine. Even when running the gears to redline, the 5.7 remains smooth and seductive, unable to disturb the cabin, which is quite serene. More important, the manual mode, which lets your right hand to keep a tight rein on all 381 horses, allows you to fully appreciate the sporty capabilities of the Sequoia's control-arm independent suspension. "The chassis is poised," adds St. Antoine, "with little roll unless you carry way too much speed into a bend." And should you carry too much speed, the Toyota's four-wheel vented disc brakes are not only large, but also utilize fixed four-piston front calipers.
Drawbacks? The Toyota has a few, namely, light and numb steering, an overwrought dash with questionable ergonomics, and the absence of an Auto four-wheel-drive mode, although with its center locking differential, the Sequoia never slipped-up through the snow and ice.