Full 2012 Toyota Sequoia Review
What's New for 2012
Trailer sway control is now standard on every Toyota Sequoia, while a blind-spot warning system is now included on Platinum models.
Like the giant redwood that is its namesake, the 2012 Toyota Sequoia is big, impressive and hard to ignore. What's really surprising, however, is just how refined this full-size truck-based SUV can be. Inside, the Sequoia offers a huge, well-equipped cabin with comfortable seating for eight passengers (or seven with the available second-row captain's chairs). Equally noteworthy is the Sequoia's ride quality, which, thanks to its independent rear suspension, is markedly better than a number of other big SUVs. This is especially true of the Sequoia's top-of-the-line Platinum models fitted with the three-mode "adaptive" suspension.
Of course, few buy a full-size SUV primarily for comfort. The Sequoia has the hard-working angle covered, too, with an available 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 engine that delivers strong acceleration and a 7,400-pound towing capacity. An available four-wheel-drive system with a low-range transfer case and a healthy 10 inches of ground clearance also makes this beast reasonably capable off-road. An enormous cargo bay with second- and third-row seats that fold to create a flat load floor adds yet more practicality.
Truth be told, most buyers would likely be better served by one of the impressive large car-based crossover SUVs that are easier to drive, boast stronger fuel economy and offer similar interior accommodations. These include the Chevrolet Traverse (or its Buick Enclave and GMC Arcadia siblings), Ford Flex and Honda Pilot. However, should you need the added utility and capability that only a big, truck-based SUV can provide, then the 2012 Toyota Sequoia is in many ways the top choice when stacked up against competitors like the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Toyota Sequoia is a full-size SUV with seating for seven or eight passengers, depending on the model or options selected. There are three trim levels -- SR5, Limited and Platinum -- all of which are offered with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive.
The SR5 base model comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, a roof rack, running boards, privacy glass, a towing package, a sunroof, keyless entry, a power vertically sliding rear window, cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), a 40/20/40 sliding and reclining second-row bench seat, 60/40-split reclining and fold-flat third-row bench, cloth upholstery, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Limited adds 20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, driver seat adjustable lumbar, a power reclining and folding third-row seat, upgraded gauges, a rearview camera, rear side window sunshades (second and third rows) and a premium 14-speaker JBL sound system with a six-CD changer. Available options on Limited models include second-row captain's chairs, a rear-seat entertainment system and a navigation system with a touchscreen interface, real-time traffic info and a four-CD changer that swaps out the six-disc.
Those options are included on the top-of-the-line Sequoia Platinum, which also adds 20-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, load-leveling rear air springs, adaptive shock absorbers, adaptive cruise control, perforated leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a 10-way power driver seat (adds thigh adjustment), driver memory functions, a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated second-row captain's chairs and a four-CD changer.
There are only two options for SR5 models, including a Sport Appearance package that bundles 20-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, a body-color grille surround and second-row captain's chairs. Its Premium package includes many of the Limited model's extra standard features.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Toyota Sequoia is offered with one of two V8 engines. Both are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive. The optional four-wheel drive features a two-speed transfer case with electronic shifting and push-button locking.
Base SR5 models get a 4.6-liter V8 that makes 310 hp and 327 pound-feet of torque as standard equipment. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and 13/18/15 with four-wheel drive.
The Limited and Platinum models come with a 5.7-liter V8 (optional on the SR5) that produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, a Sequoia with this engine went from zero to 60 mph in a quick 6.7 seconds. EPA fuel economy is 13/18/15 with rear-drive and 13/17/14 with four-wheel drive. Properly equipped, a 5.7-liter two-wheel-drive Sequoia can tow up to 7,400 pounds.
Standard safety equipment for all 2012 Toyota Sequoias includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, trailer sway control, front-seat side-impact airbags, front knee airbags and three-row side curtain airbags. Front and rear parking sensors and a back-up camera are standard on Limited and Platinum trim levels. A blind spot warning system is standard on the Platinum version.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Toyota Sequoia required 127 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, which is a short distance for SUVs in this class.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Sequoia's passenger cabin offers abundant room for passengers, cargo or a combination of the two. Whether you opt for the eight- or seven-passenger variations, you'll find a more comfortable and versatile cabin than its rivals. The second-row seats in particular not only recline, but slide fore and aft for extra legroom -- a rare feature among full-sized SUVs. The center section of the 40/20/40-split second-row bench also slides forward to put little ones within easy reach of mom and dad. Controls are generally easy to use, but those for the audio system require a long reach for the driver.
The Sequoia's interior is well set up for carrying stuff, with 66.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats and a healthy 18.9 cubic feet behind the third row. While the popular Chevy Tahoe requires you to remove and stow its heavy third-row seats in order to maximize cargo space, the Sequoia's independent rear suspension allows its 60/40-split third-row seats to quickly fold down into the floor to create a vast 121 cubic feet of cargo space with all the rear seats folded. In the Limited and Platinum models, they fold with the touch of a button.
Like an all-star NBA center, the 2012 Toyota Sequoia moves pretty well for a vehicle its size. The 5.7-liter V8's abundance of low-end torque makes passing maneuvers effortless, and the six-speed automatic is always on point with gear selection, even when towing. Even the entry-level SR5 model's smaller 4.6-liter V8 is no slouch, particularly if you won't be maxing out your SUV's payload and towing capacities on a regular basis.
The Sequoia's ride quality ranges from very good to positively cushy on the Platinum model fitted with its standard adaptive suspension set to the "Comfort" mode. Handling is about what you'd expect from a vehicle this size (cumbersome) and the numb steering only increases the sense of heft. With 10 inches of ground clearance, four-wheel-drive models have some off-road potential, though the vehicle's sheer size makes it better suited to rutted fire roads than gnarly trails.