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Posted at 01:04 PM ET, 09/11/2013

2013 Toyota Sequoia: Family Checklist


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If you're looking for an SUV with decent towing capabilities — up to 7,000 pounds depending on the trim — that can also seat seven comfortably, the 2013 Toyota Sequoia might be for you. However, if your children are like mine and still in child-safety seats, they might throw a wrench into your three-row-SUV groove.

We had just moved into our new house, which meant I had to make my fifth impromptu trip to Target that week for trash bags, curtains and the occasional nightstand. Luckily for me, I was able to sneak away kid-free and drive the 2013 Toyota Sequoia. I was stoked to use the Sequoia cargo area for something other than a stroller.

For my freeway jaunt, I was surprised by the Sequoia's smooth but powerful ride. The 5.7-liter V-8 engine has enough power to make running errands fun, but you pay for it at the gas pump with its EPA-estimated 13/17 mpg city/highway.


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The Sequoia has more than enough legroom for all three rows, which is more than I can say for a lot of three-row SUVs. However, accessing the third row was the issue.

My test SUV had second-row captain's chairs with an impressively large storage console between them, but it became an obstacle for my 4-year-old as she tried to climb into the third row. Toyota designed the captain's chairs to slide out of the way easily, creating a spacious path to the third row. Unfortunately, I always have car seats installed in the second row via the Latch system — my forward-facing convertible and rear-facing infant seat fit well in the Sequoia — which makes sliding the captain's chairs out of the way nearly impossible. This left my 4-year-old climbing over car seats and storage consoles just to access her booster seat. She's limber enough, but she hates doing it. And she makes it known. Also, I had to climb up and over to help her buckle up.


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Another issue my 4- and 2-year-old had was climbing in and out of this full-size SUV. Due to the high step-in height, my 2-year-old fell almost every time she tried to climb out of the Sequoia without assistance, and that's with standard running boards for assistance. All in all, it took a lot of effort to get my three kids in and out of this SUV.


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The Sequoia shines when it comes to family-friendly storage and space. Cubbies and cupholders were everywhere, including the first row's center console that's labeled for hanging file folders. I found that to be oddly out of place, but the center console was fairly deep and could easily be used for other things.


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Cargo area behind the Sequoia's third row is a respectable 18.9 cubic feet. That's bigger than the Ford Expedition's 18.6 cubic feet, but smaller than the Nissan Armada's 20.0 cubic feet and the Chevrolet Traverse's 24.4. The Sequoia's power-folding third row, which is a fantastic feature, is split 60/40, allowing for part or the entire third row to be folded should you need additional cargo space.

If your kids are out of child-safety seats and you're ready to ditch the minivan for something with a little more oomph, family-friendly features such as rear air vents and a Blu-ray player (standard only on the Platinum trim level) make the Sequoia a smart SUV choice.

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By Cars.com  |  01:04 PM ET, 09/11/2013

 
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