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Sequoia offers spaciousness, reliability as its selling point

Toyota Sequoia, the Japanese brand’s biggest SUV, had a pretty serious makeover last year and it heads into the 2019 model year as pretty much the same vehicle. Given the last serious upgrade to Sequoia was in 2007, I’d say things are just right in the large SUV’s world.

Whether it’s the enormous width, the extended wheelbase or the gigantic doors and rubber on the pavement, everything on the Sequoia is big – actually, oversized. Probably the first thing you realize when you meet a Sequoia is just how many people can fit into its comfy quarters. Officially, it seats eight, but if it really wanted to, and there were no seatbelt laws, a dorm floor could probably get to the lake and back.

Interior Spaces

My tester featured lush captain’s chairs in the second row, though you can opt for a bench seat. Once seated at any spot within the Sequoia, I immediately noticed two things: one, the nice-sized 6.1-inch touch screen looks tiny on the vast expanse of the dash; two, there are cubby holes, pockets, and cup holders everywhere.

In terms of flexibility, I really was impressed with the fold-flat second and third rows; firstly, they were a cinch to get leveled and second, the cargo capacity with them lying down is sprawling. The Sequoia features a standard roof rack that can further enhance the cargo-carrying capacity. However, I had a look up there, and good luck getting anything heavy hoisted to those reaches.

While functionality is not particularly compromised, the Sequoia is not going to excite anyone with its dated electronics or dash and seating materials. Nothing special to speak of – but nothing poor in quality or workmanship.

Safety

Sequoia is a family mover and it delivers current safety technology – and you need it with the huge vehicle’s proportions on the road. Safety equipment includes: a reversing camera, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and brake assist, lane-departure alert with sway warning, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring.

Performance

A 5.7-liter V8, delivering 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, is the only engine available. It is mated to a dated 6-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) and a limited slip differential come standard, but buyers can add four-wheel drive (4WD) with high- and low-range gearing and an electronically locking center differential.

My tester featured optional height-adjustable air springs for changes in load, as well as an adaptive suspension with Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes. The Sequoia can haul up to 7,400 lbs with the standard hitch receiver and tow/haul mode. The 13 mpg city and 17 highway are some of the lowest numbers out there.

Trims

Trims for the Sequoia are split into SR5, TRD Sport, Limited and Platinum. The SR5 trim comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone climate control, a power moonroof, seating for 8, and a touchscreen infotainment system. The TRD Sport trim comes with an off-road-inspired appearance, including 20-inch black alloy wheels, a gloss-black grille, LED automatic headlights, second-row captain’s chairs, and keyless access. The Premium package is also offered on TRD Sport.

The Limited trim gets 20-inch machined alloy wheels, keyless access and start, a power liftgate, heated front seats, and navigation. Buyers can add several options, including leather upholstery, memory settings, premium JBL audio, and a Blu-ray player.

Platinum models offer everything from the Limited trim, plus unique wheels, a rear seat Blu-ray entertainment system, premium JBL Audio, leather upholstery, captain’s chairs, and heated and ventilated front seats.

Overall, this is a somewhat dated large SUV, but once you are riding on the road it manages to win you over with the comfort and size it delivers.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication