2011 Toyota Sequoia AWD Platinum Review and Test Drive


Sales of full-size sport utility vehicles continues to climb back up to where they were before 2008’s economic downturn.  Bigger is better as the saying goes, and the new Platinum Edition Sequoia is one of the best in all categories of what makes today’s full-size sport utility vehicle so popular and useful.  You might be a large family, a company that needs to transport cargo or people, a rancher or farmer needing the utility that a SUV offers.  The 5.7 liter V8 Platinum edition model that I tested has it all-outstanding exterior styling, outstanding power, handling, interior roominess and luxury with the capability that only a sport utility vehicle exhibits.

The 5.7 liter engine produces 381hp at 5,600rpm and 401lb.ft. of torque at just 3,600rpm, among the highest outputs in its class.  This V8 engine enables the Sequoia to tow up to 7,400lbs. (depending on model grade and equipment).  Critical to customers who tow, the 5.7 liter V8 produces 90% of its peak torque at just 2,200rpm.  A tow/haul mode modifies transmission shift points for optimal performance.  the Sequoia’s towing hitch is integrated into the frame as a single unit for added strength.

The 5.7 liter DOHC, 32-valve, all-aluminum V8 is also equipped with dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i).  An Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) switches the intake tract length in two stages, based on engine rpm and throttle angle, to optimize torque across the engine speed range.

This powerful V8 engine is mated toToyota’s six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting enabling you to hold the gear all the way up redline for maximum torque.  Also, Toyota’s flexible torque converter lock-up control enhances efficiency, with lock-up occurring in fourth, fifth and sixth gears.  the Multi-Mode for wheel drive system uses a two-speed transfer case with a lockable TORSEN limited-slip center differential to power the front and rear wheels.  The transfer case is shifted electronically via a rotary knob, and it locks with the push of a button.  What could be easier, shifting between RWD and AWD as needed at the twist of a big rotary knob quickly reached on the dashboard.

The second-generation Sequoia is built on a special heavy-duty platform that features four-wheel independent to help provide exemplary ride quality, handling and straight-line control.  Just like a large sport sedan, the ride is smooth and stabile on the highway with quick, precise turn in when driving in slower city traffic.  The suspension uses high-mount coil springs, double-wishbones (upper & lower A-arms), gas-charged shocks and a hollow 1.42in. stabilizer bar up front.  The rear setup is the same with coil springs, double-wishbones (upper & lower A-arms), gas-charged shocks and a hollow 0.91in. stabilizer bar.  This is the same suspension geometry found on expensive sport sedans, sport coupes and two-seat sport cars costing thousands of dollars more than the Sequoia.

The Sequoia Platinum model that I tested ups the suspension ante even higher with an Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), which adjusts damper response with settings for Comfort,Normaland Sport, just like in an expensive luxury sport sedan, coupe or two-seater.

The Platinum’s Electronically Modulated Air Suspension also augments the Sequoia’s ability to tow and haul heavy loads while maintaining an appropriate ride height and chassis attitude.  The Sequoia rides on large, 20X8in. diamond-cut alloy wheels wrapped with 275/55R20 inches all-season performance tires for added grip and a very compliant ride.

When I was driving in the Comfort setting it seems like I was floating over all of the bumps and ruts on LA city streets.  In the mountains I turned the rotary dial to Sport and the suspension firmed up and turn in was quick and precise with no body roll.  You decide how you want your Sequoia to drive, any time any place.

When driving off-road you can set your suspension higher to traverse logs, big rocks, etc. by increasing the height of the chassis.  Normal ground clearance is 9.6 inches for the Platinum model and 10 inches for the SRS model.

The speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack & pinion steering system was a perfect match for the Sequoia Platinum with great feedback from the road, quick response to my inputs and a great on-center feel at speed.

Slowing the big Sequoia Platinum down from speed are large, 4-wheel vented brakes. Up front are 13.9 inch rotors clamped with four-piston calipers while the rear features 13.6 inch rotors clamped with single-piston calipers.  Standard ABS, BA and EBD ensure that you are in full control of your direction during heavy braking or when driving on slick pavement.

The Sequoia’s 0.36 drag coefficient is comparable to smaller crossover-type vehicles.  The vehicle’s mirrors, wipers, A-pillars and roof header are shaped to help maximize aerodynamic efficiency and minimize wind noise.  The vehicle underside airflow is optimized to reduce drag and wind noise and to help improve directional control.  Headlamp washers, large side-view mirrors that feature power retraction, automatic glare-resistance, turn-signal indictors, puddle lamps, position memory and reverse-linked tilt functions are standard in the Sequoia Platinum.  The wide rear door-opening angle and standard running boards provide easy passenger entry and exit and child seat installation.  Front and rear parking sonar sensors that emit an audible warning alert of solid objects and their distance from the vehicle are also standard.

The Sequoia’s dashboard incorporates a modular instrument panel structure and, like other interior surfaces, features a finish similar to fine luxury cars.  Each of Sequoia’s eight seating positions provides space sufficient to comfortably accommodate people well above normal height.  All of the seats in the Sequoia are leather trimmed and the front driver 10-way powered with power lumbar support and 4-way powered with lumbar support for the front passenger.  You also get two driver memory for the driver’s seat/power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and outside mirrors.

The same efficient packaging that allows exceptional interior comfort also allows carry items up to 11 feet long.  Folding the second and third row seats flat opens the cargo area to 120.1 cu.ft. of carrying capacity.  In the Platinum model the third row seats have a power-folding function for ease of operation.  Second row captain’s seats come standard for a seven-seat cabin.  Child-seat restraints for the second row are standard.  The power liftgate in the Sequoia Platinum comes in real handy when your hands are full and the rear liftgate sliding glass can be opened or closed for easy loading with the turn of a key.  The cargo area is equipped with handy hooks for grocery bags.  Sequoia Platinum comes standard with 18 extra-large cup/bottle holders as well as convenient storage spaces.  The dual-tiered glovebox9.5liters and the second-row console box will hold 12 CDs or four DVDs for the rear entertainment system that comes standard.

Standard features in the Sequoia Platinum edition that I tested and not mentioned above include power tilt/sliding moonroof, roof rails, power windows/door locks with front express up/down, rear spoiler, auto 3-zone climate control with air filter, DVD NAV with backup camera a monster JBL Synthesis AM-FM/CD/XM radio with 14-speakers and subwoofer, USB with iPod connectivity, DVD entertainment system with a 9 inch screen, Bluetooth, heated/cooled front bucket seats, dual map lamps, rear cargo lamp/washer/wipers, electroluminescent instrument cluster with trip computer, dynamic laser cruiser control, rain-sensing wipers, grab handles above each door and the A-pillars, dual/lighted vanity mirrors, halogen headlamps with auto control, foglamps, front console with dual cupholders, leather and wood trimmed steering wheel and stick shifter, thick cut-pile carpeting, floor mats and a full-length cargo mat to use when the third row seats are folded.

Standard safety features include vehicle stability control, traction control, drive/front passenger advanced airbags, knee airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, all row-sensing side curtain airbags, child door locks, LATCH system for child seats, 3-point seatbelts for all seating position with front pretensioners/load limiters, front/rear crumple zones with steel beams in each door.

If you are looking for a full-size sport utility vehicle with plenty of power, 4X4 capability, comfort, luxury, automotive high-tech features and safety, look no further than the new Platinum Edition Sequoia fromToyota.




  • Price: Base Sequoia $40,030 As-Tested Sequoia AWD Platinum $59,955.00
  • Engine: 5.7-liter V8 381 horsepower @ 5600 rpm / 401 ft-lbs. torque @ 3600 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 122in.
  • Total length: 205.1in.
  • Total width: 79.9in.
  • Total height: 77in. with roof rails
  • Turning circle: 39ft.
  • Approach angle: 27
  • Departure angle: 21
  • Headroom: f/m/r-38.3/38.9/36in.
  • Legroom: f/m/r-42.5/36.4/35.3in.
  • Fuel tank: 26.4 gallons
  • Maximum towing: 8,800lbs. when properly equipped
  • 0-60mph: 6.7 seconds
  • Curb weight: 6,045lbs.
  • EPA mileage: 13mpg/city, 18mpg/highway