Toyota Sequoi Platinum

Weighing in at 6,000 pounds (fattest of the test) with a 381hp 5.7L V-8 engine for an overall power-to-weight ratio of 1 hp to every 15.7 pounds, in this corner is the '09 Toyota Sequoia Platinum. A year ago a similarly sized and equally powered Toyota Land Cruiser won our 4x4 of the Year. Can this bigger brother follow in the family footsteps?

In the rest of the world, it's the Land Cruiser that is king of the Toyotas, but Toyota figured we want everything bigger in America so it brought us the Sequoia. Similar in size and styling to the latest Tundra, the Sequoia was the troop carrier of our test, with three rows of seats, a plush IFS/IRS suspension, and plenty of power. It was the short bus of choice when judges had to load up for trips to the steakhouse. Toyota also touts its Sequoia's 10,000-pound towing capacity, E85 flex-fuel availability, and Adaptive Variable Suspension, which adjusts for three driving modes: comfort, normal, and sport.

Up on the rack we noticed some of the well-known Toyota skidplates attached directly to components like the transfer case rather than to crossmembers like other makes, and the useful tow hooks, but there were also low-hanging mufflers and running boards. When will the OEMs realize that running boards on 4x4 of the Year are like ducks on a bicycle? One feature we like about the independent rear suspension is the well-protected rear driveshaft.

The interior is a mix of Land Cruiser luxury and Tundra obesity. The seats, levers, buttons, and dials are all big, but sometimes they feel mockingly big, as though they're making fun of the "Americans like big cars" stereotype. The interior feels nice but less comfortable than the Dodge, though we do appreciate the abundance of grab handles, cup holders, and cubbies.

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