The 2011 Toyota Sequoia sits at the top of the large, affordable SUV class, standing out for its ability to carry eight passengers and to tow 7,400 lbs. Selling in an MSRP range of $40,930 to $61,305, the Sequoia can serve the needs of a family or a business beautifully. The fuel economy is abysmal at 14 city and 20 highway, but nobody buys an SUV this big to save money at the pump.
The major competition comes from the Nissan Armada and the Chevrolet Tahoe, both of which start out at $2,000 less. Opt for the Ford Expedition and pay $3,000 less. The Armada and the Tahoe are better haulers, with towing capacities of 9,000 and 8,500 lbs. respectively. All are big, powerful vehicles in a class where consumer preference often wins out over reviewers' opinions.
There are three trims for the Sequoia, the SR5, Limited, and Platinum. The base engine is a 4.6-liter V8 with 310 hp. The upper trims get a 5.7-liter V8 with 381 hp. Both are paired with a six-speed automatic. The soft sprung suspension returns a comfortable ride on the highway even if the body of the 6,000 lb. Sequoia does roll in turns. It knocks off zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and the brakes will bring the Sequoia to a full stop from 60 mph in 139 feet.
The exterior is unchanged from 2010 and shares its looks with the Toyota Tundra pickup. The most noticeable features are its two-box shape and large chrome grille. Inside, buyers will find a solid quality cabin, with only minor flaws. The controls are just a bit far to the right for comfortable driver reach and at certain angles the steering wheel obstructs the gauges.
With a second-row bench, the Sequoia will carry eight. All rows slide to augment leg room and even the third row is comfortable, which is almost unheard of in an SUV this big. The driver's captain's chair is heated and cooled, with 10-way adjustment. There's an optional seven-inch navigation screen, and an available 14-speaker JBL audio system. Handsfree Bluetooth for voice recognition is accessed on the wheel.
Although the 2011 has not been fully tested by the federal government, the 2010 Sequoia received four stars for rollovers, five for driver protection, and four for front passenger safety. Standard safety systems include rollover sensors, stability control, traction control, and a full array of airbags. On the higher trims, look for rear sonar systems, a backup camera, and dynamic laser cruise control.
Sitting at the top of its class, the 2011 Toyota Sequoia won't save you a penny at the pump, but it will carry about as much "stuff" and about as many people as the average person would ever need. Solidly well built with a good if not great cabin, this is most definitely a big SUV worthy of a test drive.