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SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK

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Published on Sun, Mar 20, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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The 2011 Toyota Sequoia

By John-Fredrik Wright Stepping into the Sequoia Platinum is like stepping into a cockpit of a Cessna. I say “stepping” because it is a real step to get into either of the two. And the physical step put in place to assist you getting into the Sequoia is, in my opinion, a little too high, resulting in me getting a little caught on it with my show. The comparison is, however, not so much with the step in mind, as what greets the driver upon entry. The Sequoia Platinum has so many different buttons and information displayed to the driver that it looks like the cockpit of a small plane. This is of course not a bad thing, but it does mean that it takes a while to figure out what every button does. My rule when reviewing vehicles is that if I can’t figure something out without the use of the manual, then whatever the function, it is not intuitive enough. And even though there were a bunch of buttons and options, I did figure them all out on my own.

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Another bonus-point that a car can score on my list is if I can find the USB connection within a couple of seconds of trying. Some cars have it hidden in the most inane places, but again the Sequoia pulls through and it is easily located on the dashboard. Along with all the buttons, there is a lot of storage space available for the front two occupants. The passenger has access to two (yeah, two!) glove-boxes located on top of each other. In case you still run out of space to put your belongings, the box in between the two front seats is big enough for a bag with a laptop in it. The sheer size of everything inside the Sequoia makes perfect sense when you look at the exterior, and the huge hauler it really is. For the larger objects you’re bringing along, the space in the back is ample for almost anything you can think of. With the third row folded down, you could house three or four Alaskan Malamutes if you’re a dog lover, all kinds of camping and outdoorsy gear if that is what you like, or a whole bunch of people. If you stick with the latter, you’ll find ample seating for all. Two up front, two more in the second row in captain chairs, and technically another three in the third row.

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The second row has easy access to the in-flight, er, in-drive(?) entertainment system. The movie screen folds down from the ceiling and the second row passengers are in charge of loading and setting up the DVD player. And should there be a need to settle a fight by sending back a lap-top you can rest assured that the battery wont die; there’s an outlet that will solve that problem. The captain chairs of the second row are heated upon request and recline to make for a very comfortable journey. The space in between the two chairs has room for cup-holders (there are actually eight cup-holders within reach from the middle row) as well as some storage. With the push of a lever, the seat is easily moved forward to make room for somebody to get back to the third row. The third row is electrically stowed and raised from the floor. With the push of a button the third row will magically appear and become a row of three seats that electronically reclines. Especially when reclined, there is actual room for an adult (albeit not three), for shorter trips. For longer trips, I would say that you can comfortable haul four adults and two smaller children. Just make sure the adults have a thing for children’s movies; that’s what they’ll be watching!

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Moving further back, the “trunk space”, which is still sufficient for everyday shopping needs even with the third seat in use, has a smart net to put bags in as well as a small compartment in the floor of the car. The rear window can be opened from the driver’s seat, and the actual tail-gate is electronically opened and closed from the driver’s seat or using the key. The Sequoia Platinum comes standard with a JBL Synthesis 14 speaker system that will certainly cater to all you audio needs. With XM radio, a USB port and an AUX inlet, you should be able to somehow listen to exactly what you want, with no compromises.

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The Sequoia is a big car, or maybe I should say truck, but there are several systems in place to assist in making maneuvering it, both in slow and fast speeds, a breeze. The back-up camera helps both in parallel parking, but also basically anytime you try to back this behemoth up. Turning around and looking gives you an indication, but there is no way you can be as precise as with the help of the camera. Also, the option of turning on the mirror-tilt when in reverse is a pretty nifty tool. When the car is set in reverse, the side-mirrors tilt fully down so that you can see the curb, parking space markers, or feet before you hit them. At higher speeds the Dynamic Laser Cruise Control comes in handy. When you turn on the cruise control the car will maintain a set a speed until you turn it off (by pushing the button or braking) or until it notices that you are approaching a another vehicle travelling slower. It then slows your car down and matches the speed of the car in-front of you. This is a pretty cool system, but I had a couple of concerns with it. First off, it seems not to work in rainy conditions. That’s fair enough, but there was no quick way to turn off the laser system and just use the cruise normally, which means that in rainy conditions you have no cruise control at all. Secondly, it does not seem to register stopped cars ahead, i.e. if they are stopped at a crosswalk, which I thought was a little odd. Also, it will slow the car down to match the car in-front only down to 20-some mph, then it gives you a noise and turns off, leaving the car coasting along towards a still slowing/stopping car. The first time this happens it caught me a little by surprise, making for a little bit too exciting of a drive. I remember that even a couple of years ago we drove another, competing, vehicle equipped with a radar cruise control which would actually work in stop and go traffic; slowing down and stopping behind a car until that car continued to move forward, at which point it accelerated as well.

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All-in-all, however, I was impressed by the Sequoia Platinum. This car is outfitted with everything you could possibly ever need, and then some. The controls are easy to use, as is the GPS and navigation system (Toyota has done a good job with this in their entire line-up), the ride is comfortable and spacious, and the drive is not that straining. A big car with lots to offer, without having to go to trucking school. For more information on Toyota products, go to www.toyota.com

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: Toyota Sequoia 4x4 Platinum Price: $59,955 (base) $61,295 (and as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 13 mpg (city) 18 mpg (highway) Engine size and type: 5.7-Liter DOHC 32-Valve i-FORCE V8 with Dual Independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) Horsepower: 381 @ 5600 rpm Torque: 401 pound-feet @ 3600 rpm Transmission type: 6-speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i); sequential shift mode and uphill/downhill shift logic; TOW/HAUL mode Drive configuration: Four wheel drive Steering (type): Engine speed-sensing Variable Flow Control (VFC) power-assisted rack-and-pinion Suspension (front and rear): Front high-mounted coil-spring independent double-wishbone front suspension with low-pressure gas-filled shock absorbers and hollow stabilizer bar; rear coil-spring independent double-wishbone suspension with low-pressure gas-filled shock absorbers and hollow stabilizer bar Brakes and tires: Power-assisted 4-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist P275/55R20 Dimensions: Length: 205.1 in Width: 79.9 in Height: 77.0 in Curb weight: 6045 lbs

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(National Park Service)

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