There comes a time when any rapidly expanding family unit must sit down and decide, “Do we really want to wind up driving the Partridge Family’s old bus or should we stop with the kids now and get a big (and we mean big) SUV?" Now this may sound like the introduction to an article about Mormon sister wives or some alien worshipping cult but there are lots of American families who need a vehicle that can carry 7 or 8 adults in comfort. The 2012 Toyota Sequoia Platinum Edition 4x4 does just that - and it makes it look easy.
More so than in any vehicle we have tested, the Sequoia proved to be the most capable at keeping young kids from being able to tease and start fights with each other which may qualify it for something with the Nobel committee. The 2012 Toyota Sequoia underwent just a few small changes for the 2012 model year including a new tow safety package that helps keep the bulky items on the trailer behind you under control. Remember, this SUV can tow 7,000 pounds thanks to its brutally powerful 5.7 liter 381 horsepower/401 lb. feet of torque V8 which is also the picture of Lexus-like refinement. This engine and its 6-speed automatic are smoother, quicker reacting and mark out one of the true highlights of the overall package.
Somehow, though, we think that perhaps Toyota went a little overboard when it decided to “supersize” this second generation of Sequoia. Now, we aren’t saying that this rather corpulent looking SUV would cause the elastic on a pink Snuggie to scream out in agony but we must admit that this vehicle earned the nickname “Large Marge” during a one week visit with us. In truth, that moniker had only a little bit to do with its size and even more with how many times we had to refill the 26.4 gallon fuel tank.
Also, the truck driving character “Large Marge” in the 1980’s classic “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” would have felt right at home piloting this monster SUV. No doubt as she dropped off her passengers in the dead of night at their local Toyota dealer you could have heard her cry, “tell ‘em Large Marge sent you.” So, if you feel you need an SUV with this much room, power, features and capability then we dare you to tell your Toyota dealer that “Large Marge” did indeed send you. The worst thing is they’ll think you’re a little bit nuts, which never hurt come negotiation time.
2012 Toyota Sequoia Platinum 4x4: Exterior
We were big fans of the first generation Sequoia’s styling as it was just large enough but to most buyers it was more of a competitor for something like a Chevy Tahoe. And as we all know, North Americans like their SUVs as large as their cupholders. We can assure you that the 2012 Toyota Sequoia not only has a number of Double Gulp sized cupholders but that stylistically it is also looks positively enormous from the outside.
From the side, the Sequoia bulges out oddly almost as if it were a man with thick love handles who insists on wearing pants four sizes too small for him. On our Platinum model, Toyota decided to bedazzle the heck out of this SUV with chrome adorning places like the door handles, grille, side mirrors and pretty much anywhere the bounds of taste could be pushed recklessly and with wanton abandon. The only way it could get more “Americanized” would be the addition of a landau top although perhaps we should not have given anyone any ideas.
Everything about the 2012 Toyota Sequoia is truly enormous. The doors are larger than any we have possibly ever encountered in a car, truck or SUV, the payoff for this exterior bloat does pay dividends when you climb up into the interior. Truly palatial are the Sequoia’s accommodations that we even felt it made the inside of a Chevy Suburban feel cramped. And remember, didn’t your mother always tell you that it’s what’s inside that counts?
2012 Toyota Sequoia Platinum 4x4: Interior and Features
Spacious, top notch build quality, epic levels of room for every passenger to stretch out and more toys and gizmos than any family could ever need are hallmarks of the interior of the 2012 Toyota Sequoia 4x4 Platinum. Standard features with this trim level include leather seats, adaptive variable air suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlamps, headlamp washers, moonroof, a blind-spot warning system (you could fit Kansas in the one over the driver’s right shoulder), 3-zone automatic climate control, dynamic laser cruise control, heated/cooled/power front seats, power folding third row seats, heated second row captain’s chairs, navigation, a back-up camera, a 14-speaker JBL audio system with 4-disc CD changer, USB/iPod integration, Bluetooth and rear seat DVD entertainment. The only thing lacking is the proverbial kitchen sink but considering the Sequoia’s size we are sure Toyota could have squeezed one in somewhere.
So, yes, the 2012 Toyota Sequoia comes lavishly equipped with anything a big family needs except there is one catch—the $60,000 plus MSRP once destination and dealer fees are added in. You do realize that you could buy a Land Cruiser for that same amount and have room for 8?
Granted, the Sequoia Platinum is most likely the best road trip vehicle in the Toyota line-up thanks to all of the comfort features, the passenger room and even good cargo room with all three seating rows in use. Behind the third row there is 18.9 cubic feet (perfect for strollers, diaper bags, 100 pound dog kibble bags), 66.6 cubic feet with the third row folded flat and a whopping 120.1 cubic feet of space behind the driver and passenger. With that much space the Sequoia sounds less like an SUV and more like a $2,500 studio apartment in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
As is expected in any Toyota, interior build quality is top notch with the dashboard lifted from the Tundra work truck but thankfully the Sequoia suffers from none of that full size pick-up’s ultra-jittery highway ride. The interior of the Sequoia is also a bit more luxuriously appointed as this is meant to be a kiddie/family carry-all and not a cement/carpenter’s/plumber’s traditional work truck.
Apparently those working guys just still have to suffer not because they like but because owning a big pickup proves that you are more macho and will no doubt gain entrance into the Viking Kingdom of Valhalla once you die. Perhaps that last part isn’t true but we can assure most buyers that a Sequoia would be far more useful to most families and that the Tundra is best left for professional purposes. Or people who need to haul their boats, motorcycles and recyclable waste with them everywhere.
2012 Toyota Sequoia Platinum 4x4: The Competition (Do You Need this Much SUV?)
Ford does still sell the Expedition but we warn you that it is based on old “Firestone Era” platform technology and the interior has needed a refresh longer than Joan Rivers has lacked any discernible human features on her face. There is always the tried and true Suburban which is the only SUV that competes in outright space even if the Chevy’s third row of seats don’t fold completely flat (they must be removed and are heavy) which takes away from its ability to handle any emergency you might ever face in your life. You know, like when you are shopping at the mall and buy something that looked WAY smaller in the store.
If you need to haul a large number of people and quite a bit of cargo there is also one far less cool alternative and that is the minivan.
In fact, Toyota’s excellent Sienna SE is way more fun to drive than any SUV out there. Other Smart minivan buys include the all-new Honda Odyssey and the Chrysler Town & Country which recently was treated to an interior materials upgrade and the new Pentastar V6 engine upgrade. With both of those fixes, Fiat finally took a minivan whose best days were behind it and finally put it back in contention with the all-stars at Toyota and Honda. Which is best? Well, when it comes to minivans we often times recommend just flipping a three sided coin.
Also note that if the $60,000 price of the Sequoia Titanium is a barrier for you, Toyota also offers this large and in charge SUV in SR5 trim starting around $40,000 although you do lose most of the truly desirable toys. But then with SR5 and mid-level Limited trim you can order your Sequoia with full 8-passenger seating capability. Thanks to those hugely comfortable armchair La-Z-Boys that come standard with the Titanium in the second row that model is 7 very comfortable people only.
2012 Toyota Sequoia Platinum 4x4: Driving Impression and Safety
Even though the Sequoia has a curb weight hovering somewhere around the 6,000 pound mark and looks like it could qualify for lap band surgery, thanks to the 5.7 liter 381 horsepower/401 lb. feet of torque V8 that still qualifies as the most refined powerplant in its class no owner will ever be concerned with tepid acceleration. Somehow, the 2012 Toyota Sequoia 4x4 Platinum is able to overcome the huge obstacles inherent in the laws of physics to feel powerful and punchy at all speeds. Part of this engine’s excellent behavior is also down to Toyota’s excellent and velvety smooth 6-speed automatic transmission.
Admittedly, the Sequoia is excellent at going fast in a straight line but throw it some curves and you’ll be met with body roll and not much driving fun. Thankfully, the Sequoia’s steering has a nice heft to it and it makes it easy for this large SUV to track straight and true on long freeway slogs. Braking power was truly impressive given how much mass it is in charge of slowing and even in traffic in LA the pedal showed no sign of fade.
Overall, the 2012 Toyota Sequoia does the best with the hand it was dealt. Yes, this SUV may be “big boned” but considering how heavy and bulky the vehicle is it is truly surprising that it feels as nimble and agile even when maneuvering grocery store parking lots. Much more so than a Chevy Suburban which lacks the Sequoia’s buttoned down feeling of control even at low speeds.
Now, for the bad news that we are going to try to soften with this little factoid—the 5.7 liter V8 in the Sequoia runs on regular unleaded! But unfortunately in our hands it barely averaged over 11 miles per gallon during its week with us. EPA fuel economy estimates aren’t much rosier at 13 city/18 highway. This gasoline issue is one reason minivans (or the Ford Flex) are more and more appealing to buyers with big families.
Even though the 2012 Toyota Sequoia hasn’t yet been tested by the IIHS or NHTSA, simple logic tells you that if you rear end a Chevy Sonic while driving one it’s rather likely that you will have no problem walking away from the accident. The guy in the Chevy Sonic? You may be peeling him out of your wheel well.
The question you must answer yourself now is what price can a family put on driving an SUV with the utmost in interior comfort, features, power, safety and brute strength all the while still unfortunately not looking much cooler than a minivan? $60,000 is a lot of money to spend but considering the fact that this Sequoia Titanium comes with EVERYTHING and can do pretty much ANYTHING you ask of it, perhaps it is money well spent.
But without question the one feature that Toyota lists (but should) is how the interior of this 2012 Sequoia fosters interior calm and serenity thanks to clever use of space and lots of distractions. Over a weekend we filled this car with adults, small children, a dog and no one got into a fight and no tears were shed. Was this just coincidence? Large Marge wouldn’t think so.