’11 Toyota Sequoia DD & Tow Build

2011 Toyota Sequoia Build:

  • Platinum Trim
  • 5.7L V8 with FFV, 6spd Auto
  • 4WD
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic

Maintenance & Modifications:

With priorities and needs changing, we decided that we no longer needed the Golf and that a large family & tow SUV would better suit our needs. We traded in the Golf for this car – a 2011 Toyota Sequoia.

This 2011 Toyota Sequoia is the Platinum trim – meaning that it’s the highest trim level. The 5.7L V8 engine in the car produces 381hp and 401lbft of torque – even more than the Evo produces. This car is also the flex-fuel version of the car, meaning it can take E85 or any mix between regular and ethanol. This is particularly relevant for me, as the Evo now has a dual map between E85 and regular. If at any event I have E85 leftover in the fuel jugs, I could simply dump it into the Sequoia instead of letting it go bad.

The Platinum trim also comes standard with heated captains chairs for the second row, DVD player, sunroof & navigation, radar cruise control, and cooled front seats. The last one is a particular selling point for me, as I often sweat while driving long distances. Saying this car is large is an understatement – I sit about as high as the Uhaul trucks we’ve been renting for our moves, and the width (79.9″) is also massive – 8″ wider than the M3, which I had considered very wide, and 10″ wider than the Evo. This makes driving the Sequoia somewhat difficult to get used to.

The Sequoia I purchased also has Toyota’s part-time 4wd system. 99% of the time, car sits in 2wd mode, so only the rear wheels are powered. A switch on the console allows me to go from 2wd to 4Hi and 4Lo. 4Hi, designed to go 62mph (100kmph) max, is to be used in snow/poor conditions only. You can also only go straight when this mode is active, as turns can causing binding and damage to the drivetrain. 4Lo is the get-out-of-trouble mode, and there is also a center diff lock button as well. Frankly I find this 4wd system more annoying than a traditional AWD system, which can be used at any speed, but to be fair it will rarely be used. Toyota recommends engaging the 4wd system once a month or so to make sure everything is lubricated properly.

Being a bit of an old school SUV with a fairly standard (no cylinder deactivation, start/stop, etc.) V8 and 4wd, the Sequoia is rated for a paltry 13 city 18 mpg highway. On E85, that drops to 9 and 13 highway. Part of this is due to its mass – with the highest end Platinums tipping the scales at just over 6,000lbs. The car sits on 275/55 Michelin Defenders wrapped in 20″ wheels.

This mass is part of what allows the Sequoia to tow so well – in my spec, rated to 7,100lbs. It’s not just rating that matters for towing, however. The mass, the body-on-frame design, and the long wheelbase all contribute to stability in towing. While many crossovers and smaller utility vehicles are rated to 5,000lbs or so, their actual towing will be much less stable than in the Sequoia. Trailers can act like sails in wind, and you really need the mass of the car to keep the tail from wagging the dog. The Platinum trims additionally come with auto-leveling rear ride height adjustment, which can mitigate the need for a weight distribution hitch by raising the rear that may have been lowered due to the trailer load. Finally, the Sequoia comes with both 4-pin and 7-pin connectors, and 2″ hitch. My Sequoia also came with a trailer brake controller courtesy of the previous owner, which will allow me to adjust how strong the trailer brakes come on.

For stopping power, the Sequoia has 4-piston fixed calipers in the front reminiscent of the Evo’s, wrapped around 13.9″ (354mm) rotors in the front, and floating calipers in the rear with 13.6″ (345mm) rotors in the rear. To be prudent, I plan to refresh all the brake parts – vented Centric blank rotors, pads, and a fluid flush.

In summary, I’m really excited about having this car. This car was on my all-time Top 10 list as a car I’d love to own, and it really opens up the possibility of traveling to different tracks across the US. At the same time, this massive interior makes vacationing and sight-seeing with the whole family a real possibility, especially with it’s surprisingly roomy 3rd row seating and cargo capability. More to come soon!

2020 Season: Introduction