The Toyota Sequoia, which is based on the Tundra full-size pickup, is a huge, heavy beast that dates back to that not-so-long-ago era when gas prices were low and housing values were high. This Texas-built and Texas-size machine was Toyota’s answer to biggies such as the Ford Expedition and the Chevrolet Suburban. Third-row seats are standard fare, and the maximum towing capacity is 7400 pounds. The engine lineup consists of two brawny and thirsty V-8s. The base engine is a 4.6-liter that produces 310 hp, which is probably more than enough. The muscular 5.7-liter V-8 is still king, however (it also offers E85 capability in non-California-emissions states), and as a bonus its city fuel economy actually equals that of the smaller engine. Either way, no one is going to cross-shop the Sequoia with a Prius. Rather than economy, the Sequoia concentrates on luxury; iPod connectivity and Bluetooth are standard, and midlevel models get a backup camera as well as a power liftgate. Driving one is, well, nice. The big cozy driver’s seat, the commanding view of the road, and a bottomless well of torque are pleasant reminders of the days when bigger really meant better. At the same time, the Sequoia’s inescapable big-truck characteristics–poor body control, slow reflexes, and obscenely bad fuel economy–make clear that large crossovers are a much better option for large families.

Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel

Trim levels: SR5, Limited, Platinum

Body style: SUV, 8-passenger

Engines: 4.6L V-8, 310 hp, 327 lb-ft 5.7L V-8, 381 hp, 401 lb-ft (E85 capable)

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Passenger volume: N/A

Capacities: Towing 7000-7400 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 18.9/66.6/120.8 cu ft

Toyota has made trailer-sway control and a blind-spot monitoring system standard for 2012. There’s also a new color, crimson mica.

Front, side, side curtain, and front knee air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; trailer-sway control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. Backup sensors are optional.

All: 13-14 mpg city/18-19 mpg highway

  • Two powerful V-8s
  • Comfortable, well-appointed interior
  • Two thirsty V-8s
  • Does not drive as well as a large crossover

Old-school SUV muscle.

  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Ford Expedition
  • GMC Yukon
  • Nissan Armada

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