2011 Toyota Sequoia Introduction

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.

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