Pros: Excellent performance from newly standard 5.7-liter V8; cavernous 3-row interior; lots of available features; decent ride and handling for a big rig

Cons: Predictably poor gas mileage; distant dashboard controls

What's New: The 2013 Toyota Sequoia discards the formerly standard 4.6-liter V8, and Entune is now optional or standard on every model. There's also an available Blu-ray entertainment system, an industry first.

Introduction

We'd like to start this year's review by thanking Toyota for reading last year's review. How else to explain the 2013 Sequoia's changes? We complained about the standard 4.6-liter V8, and Toyota got rid of it. We noted that the Entune mobile apps system wasn't offered at the beginning of last year, and now it's available across the lineup. We kvetched that the navigation system wasn't hard drive-based, and now it is, at least on fancier models. It's nice to know that, just like you, the wise folks at Toyota do their vehicle research at AutoTrader.com.

But truth be told, Toyota didn't really need to make any of these changes. The Sequoia was already a top pick in its class. Based on the excellent Tundra full-size pickup, the Sequoia's got all the toughness you could ask for, yet its ride and handling are surprisingly refined. And its cabin is first-rate, deftly hiding those work-truck origins with above-average materials and plenty of luxuries.

The Sequoia's days at the top might be numbered, as the newly redesigned 2014 Chevy Silverado will surely be spawning a new Tahoe and Suburban before long. But the Sequoia remains an exceptionally well-rounded vehicle for those who require its industrial-grade capabilities, and its updates for 2013 only sweeten the deal. Sorry, Toyota -- we can't find much that needs improvement anymore.

Comfort & Utility

The 2013 Toyota Sequoia comes in SR5, Limited or Platinum trim. Standard SR5 features include 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, running boards, a roof rack, a sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat, 8-passenger seating and an 8-speaker sound system with iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Optional is a 6.1-in touchscreen interface with Entune mobile app integration, a rearview camera and a navigation system that doesn't have a hard drive.

The Limited adds 20-in alloy wheels, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, Optitron instrumentation, a rearview-mirror-mounted backup camera and 14-speaker premium JBL sound. Optional here is a 7-in higher-resolution touchscreen with hard drive-based navigation, including extra space for music storage.

The Platinum features adaptive cruise control, an air suspension, second row captain's chairs for 7-passenger seating, perforated leather upholstery with driver power thigh support, wood grain interior trim, a rear seat Blu-ray entertainment system with a 9-in monitor and the hard drive-based navigation system as standard.

Some higher-end features are available on lower trim levels as options.

From the driver's perspective, the Sequoia is distinctly reminiscent of the Tundra, which makes sense -- the two vehicles share not only the same platform, but also the same dashboard. We give the Sequoia's control layout extra style points for its two-tone color treatment and stylized curves and knobs; however, the face of the dashboard is so flat and distant that the driver may not even be able to reach some of the controls. Try turning the stereo knob on the right side, for example. At least the materials are average-plus by class standards.

The Sequoia's front seats are about what you'd expect: wide and largely contourless, but adequately supportive for longer trips. The 40/20/40-split second row seat has plenty of room for adults, and it slides and reclines to accommodate various physiques, though we give the comfort edge to the Platinum's standard second row captain's chairs (optional on Limited). The 3-person third row is reasonably adult-friendly as well -- once you're situated, that is. Simply getting back there is the issue, as access is rather awkward via the Sequoia's elongated rear door and flip-forward second row chair.

Cargo space is a Sequoia specialty. There's 18.9 cu ft behind the third row (that's roughly a Ford Taurus trunk), 66.6 cu ft behind the second row and a gargantuan 120.1 cu ft with all the rear seats folded.

Technology

With iPod/USB and Bluetooth integration provided even in the entry-level SR5 model, the Sequoia has its high-tech bases covered. It also gives up nothing to the latest minivans with its available 9-in rear entertainment system, especially with the new-for-2013 Blu-ray compatibility. And now that the high-end navigation system is hard drive-based, we can't quibble about that, either.

We'd like to see Entune be standard across the board, and it would be nice if Toyota gave every Sequoia buyer that same high-end navigation system rather than selling two different systems with different display screens to boot. But hey, the reality is that this Toyota's got you covered on the technology front; you just might have to pay more than you expected to get all the bells and whistles.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The Sequoia is either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or 4-wheel drive (with low-range gearing), and it now comes only with the outstanding 5.7-liter V8, which makes a robust 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. From the Tundra pickup to the Land Cruiser SUV, this beastly V8 is a hit wherever it turns up and it makes the Sequoia a very satisfying vehicle when you hit the gas. The transmission is a smooth and responsive 6-speed automatic. Note that the maximum tow rating is 7,400 pounds in RWD SR5 form.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Sequoia at 13 miles per gallon city/18 mpg hwy with RWD and 13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy. Pretty thirsty, yes, but not unusual for this type of vehicle.

Safety

The Sequoia comes standard with stability control, eight airbags (including front knee airbags), and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. No crash tests had been conducted at the time this article was written.

Driving Impressions

The Sequoia may be the size of a small bus, but its Camry-style steering wheel and light steering effort make it feel more maneuverable than it actually is. It also has an independent rear suspension, which helps it negotiate bumps in a relatively civilized way for a truck-based SUV. In tight spots, of course, the Sequoia struggles, but it loves the open road and eats up highway miles with quiet composure. 4-wheel drive Sequoias have 2-speed transfer cases with low-range gearing -- so if you plan to take your Sequoia off-road, you should be in good hands.

Other Cars to Consider

Chevrolet Tahoe - The venerable Tahoe doesn't have the Sequoia's thrust or interior polish, but it's a tried-and-true SUV with seating for up to nine passengers.

Ford Expedition - The old school Expedition is in need of rejuvenation; but like the Tahoe, it's got tradition on its side. Also, it can mostly keep pace with the Sequoia's ride and handling thanks to an independent rear suspension of its own.

Dodge Durango - The recently redesigned Durango isn't as large as the others; it's a stretched Jeep Grand Cherokee, not a converted pickup truck. But it does feature a refined rear-wheel drive platform, three usable rows of seating, and an optional 5.7-liter V8 with output numbers that come close to the Toyota's.

AutoTrader Recommends

We're not usually this shallow, but what's a full-size luxury SUV without 20-in diamond-cut-finish wheels and leather seats? The Sequoia Limited would be our choice.

What do you think about the 2013 Toyota Sequoia? Let us know in the comments below.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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