2011 Sequoia New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Sequoia can transport eight people plus some cargo in comfort. Sequoia's interior is designed with generous seats, big armrests, and lots of storage for passengers, plus an optional entertainment system for long trips. A comprehensive combination of electronic safety, stability and traction controls, Toyota's STAR system, is standard on all models, as are eight airbags. Properly equipped, Sequoia is rated to tow up to 7,400 pounds.
Sequoia offers two engines. The standard 4.6-liter V8 is rated at 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque and an EPA-estimated 14/20 mpg City/Highway. Sequoia Limited and Platinum models come with a 5.7-liter V8 rated at 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque and EPA-estimated 14/18 mpg City/Highway. Both come with a 6-speed automatic. With four-wheel drive, it's 14/19 mpg for the 4.6-liter, 13/18 mpg for the 5.7-liter. A flex-fuel version of the 5.7-liter engine is available that can run on E85 (85 percent ethanol), dropping fuel economy to a dismal 9/12 mpg City/Highway with E85 or 12/17 mpg with gasoline. We recommend the 4.6-liter. It's plenty, unless you're doing a lot of towing, in which case we'd spring for the 5.7-liter.
The Toyota Sequoia was completely redesigned for 2008, borrowing heavily in appearance and running gear from the Toyota Tundra pickup, but with independent rear suspension for better ride quality and third-row seating. In 2010 Sequoia got a new engine offering. Changes for 2011 are minimal.
For 2011, Sequoia gets revised tow ratings in accordance with a new industry standard; its rated maximum is down by about a ton, to 7400 pounds. The 2011 Sequoia also gets the Tundra's new receiver hitch and an off-switch for the now-standard daytime running lights. Packages and standard equipment have been revised to simplify choices; there are no more than three factory options and choice of two- or four-wheel drive for any of the three models.
This second-generation Sequoia is the biggest SUV Toyota has ever made and takes as much garage space as a long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class. (Or maybe we should say an S-Class takes up as much space as a full-size SUV.)
The Sequoia represents a modern take on the traditional sport utility vehicle. It's built to transport people and their gear, in comfort, across long distances on North American super-highways, and it can tow a sizable trailer or continue when the pavement ends and overgrown station wagons don't look so tough anymore. It's all about getting people in and out easily, keeping them comfy, and making heavy loads secure and routine. It rides quietly, steers easily, and with three models, two drivetrains, and a full complement of features, the Sequoia can meet a variety of wants, needs and price points. We think the Sequoia SR5 is the best model in the lineup for towing, with or without four-wheel drive.
In Toyota's lineup the Land Cruiser is a more upscale luxury vehicle with greater off-road and towing capability. If you don't tow anything or need all wheels driven only for snow, the Highlander and Sienna can be had with similar features and will drive and use fuel more like that of a car upon which they are based.
The Toyota Sequoia SR5 ($40,030) comes with cloth upholstery, tri-zone air conditioning; power windows, locks, and back window; 40/20/40 middle row recline/fold-flat seat; 60/40 fold-flat recline third row seat; keyless entry; an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with a plug for iPod compatibility; Bluetooth; power heated mirrors; tilt/telescoping steering; cruise control; spare tire; rear spoiler; power driver seat; 18-inch alloy wheels and a tow package. The SR5 is available with 4WD ($43,255). The bigger, 5.7-liter V8 is optional ($625) with either 2WD or 4WD. A Sport Package ($691) upgrades the second row bench to bucket seats (reducing total seating to seven) and upgrades with a power-adjustable driver's seat, 20-inch alloy wheels with a unique finish, color-keyed sport grille, rear spoiler, fog lamps, and a black fabric interior. A Premium Package ($3,330) is eight seats, leather, heated/power front seats, power fold/recline third row, auto-dimming inside mirror with back-up camera.
Sequoia Limited ($50,140) comes standard with the 5.7-liter V8 and upgrades the SR5 with heated, leather trimmed seats; upgrades front seats to 10-way power; adds leather trim to the steering wheel, seats, and gearshift knob; and a backup camera with a 3.5-inch display built into the rear-view mirror. The rear 60/40 third-row seat is power operated and all rear side windows have shades. The dash is upgraded with brighter Optitron gauges and a multi-information display, and a 14-speaker JBL Synthesis audio system. Outside, the Limited adds chrome trim, 20-inch wheels, moonroof, power liftgate, and power-folding mirrors. The Limited is available with four-wheel drive ($53,365). Options for the Limited include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1,670), second-row bucket seats, and DVD-based navigation ($1,460).
The Platinum ($57,180) is a seven-seater with heated bucket seats and a console in the middle row. It builds on Limited with 20-inch diamond-finish alloy wheels, a rear load-leveling suspension and adaptive shocks, and a memory feature for the mirrors, power-adjustable steering column and power seats, which are heated and air conditioned in the front. Platinum also gets standard puddle-lamps and reverse-tilt for outside mirrors, navigation/backup camera, active cruise control, rear-seat entertainment, wood-grain trim for steering wheel, doors and shifter. The only choice on Platinum is four-wheel drive ($60,405) or adding pearl white paint.
Safety features standard on all models include advanced frontal airbags, front knee airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front row, three-row side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor, electronic stability control, traction control, and daytime running lights.