Based on the excellent Tundra full-size pickup, the 2014 Toyota Sequoia has 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. It's a top pick in its ever-shrinking class, which primarily appeals to large families and those looking to tow or haul big loads.

The Sequoia's days at the top may 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.

What's New for 2014?

After a few changes for 2013, the Sequoia is unchanged for the 2014 model year.

What We Like

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

What We Don't

Predictably poor gas mileage; distant dashboard controls; starting to show its age with new competition from General Motors

How Much?

$44,200-$64,200

Fuel Economy

The Sequoia is either rear-wheel drive 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. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Sequoia at 13 miles per gallon city/18 mpg hwy with rear-wheel drive, or 13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive. That's pretty thirsty but not unusual for this type of vehicle.

Standard Features & Options

The 2014 Toyota Sequoia comes in SR5, Limited or Platinum trims.

Standard SR5 ($44,200) 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 ($53,200) adds 20-in alloy wheels, a power lift gate, leather upholstery, Optitron instrumentation, a rearview-mirror-mounted backup camera and 14-speaker premium JBL sound. Optional is a 7-in higher-resolution touchscreen with hard-drive-based navigation, including extra space for music storage.

The Platinum ($61,000) 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.

Safety

The Sequoia comes standard with stability control, eight airbags (including front knee airbags) and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. Although full crash tests have not yet been carried out, the Sequoia earned four stars in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's rollover test.

Behind the Wheel

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. Sequoias with 4-wheel drive 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.

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 2-tone color treatment and stylized curves and knobs; however, the face of the dashboard is so flat and distant that the driver may not 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.

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 needs rejuvenation. Like the Tahoe, however, it has 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's Advice

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.

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