The 2023 Sequoia has a muscular new look, drawing directly from its pickup truck brother, the Toyota Tundra. It has a powerful new hybrid drivetrain, excellent towing capacity, and offers a smooth and comfortable ride. Read on for our thoughts on this handsome full-size SUV from our first drive on the streets of Texas.
The Sequoia now comes in five different grades: the base SR5, upscale Limited and Platinum, rugged and off-road capable TRD Pro, and grand luxe Capstone. You can most easily tell the difference between models from the outside by their prominent chiseled grille, which comes in horizontal bar style on the SR5 and Limited, a checkerboard mesh on the Platinum and Capstone, and a bold TOYOTA heritage logo version for the TRD Pro.
Every 2023 Sequoia has the same i-Force MAX powertrain, which combines a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with a 48 hp motor and a small 1.87 kWh battery pack to provide extra low-end torque. Combined, they produce a healthy 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft. of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission helps provide smooth shifts and maximizes fuel economy.
The first thing you'll notice behind the wheel of the Sequoia is that the old gas-guzzler V8 won't be missed. The i-Force MAX offers impressive acceleration and towing power, with the ability to pull an 8980 to 9520-pound payload, depending on trim level and drivetrain. Except for the 4WD-exclusive TRD PRO, all models are available with either 2WD or 4WD. Toyota hasn't announced fuel economy numbers yet, but this new engine is undoubtedly more efficient than the outgoing model, which could only muster a combined 15 mpg. In our brief time driving the new model, we saw numbers around 20 mpg.
Despite its 208.1-inch length, driving the Sequoia doesn't feel like you're in a truck. Ride comfort is good, thanks to its independent double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. Some of the vehicles we tested were equipped with an adaptive variable suspension, which dynamically adjusts to road conditions and goes from cushioned in Comfort mode to stiff and predictable in Sport mode. We also tried out the air suspension, which not only can adjust ride height for loading passengers or increasing ground clearance but helps level the SUV's rear end when loaded up with passengers or cargo.
We're partial to the Sequoia TRD PRO, which provides substantial upgrades for off-road trail riding. 2.5-inch FOX coilovers, remote-reservoir shocks, and a TRD PR stabilizer bar help the big SUV conquer rough and rugged terrain. Multi-Terrain Select lets you adjust the traction management based on different driving surfaces, while Crawl Control and Downhill Assist Control let you focus on steering and watching your surroundings while the vehicle manages throttle and brake input on rocky or hilly trails. These systems work together to make the off-road experience one where you can truly enjoy your surroundings. If you love the burly looks of the TRD PRO but don't plan on serious off-roading, you might consider the TRD SPORT appearance package, which is available on SR5 trim vehicles. A TRD Off-Road package is an option on the SR5 and Limited 4x4 models, substituting Bilstein shocks for the FOX ones. The only way to get those sweet 18" forged black BBS wheels is on the TRD PRO model, which come wrapped in 33" Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires.
Decked out in an exclusive Solar Octane orange, the Sequoia TRD PRO looks right at home alongside its other Toyota truck brethren, the 4Runner TRD PRO, Tundra TRD PRO, and the Tacoma TRD PRO, which we swear is in this picture - it's just hiding behind the Tundra. An integrated LED light bar like the one on the Sequoia and Tundra should be standard on every off-road vehicle.
The previous-generation Sequoia has driven on the same chassis since 2008. This new model rides on the Toyota Next-Generation Architecture's F platform, which underpins the latest Tundra, Land Cruiser, and Lexus LX models. It's still a body-on-frame design but stiffer and offers a lower center of gravity, resulting in improved ride quality.
The interior of the new Sequoia feels decidedly more modern than the outgoing model, which was crying out for a redesign. Gone is the soft and dated look of the old dashboard, replaced with a more chiseled and angular look throughout. Even the new gear shifter looks like it was sculpted with an angled implement. Higher-end models get a big 14" touchscreen atop the center stack and an all-digital instrument cluster. We're fans of Toyota's new multimedia system, which is dramatically easier to use, faster, and more intuitive than their prior infotainment system and offers over-the-air updates. A convenient wireless phone charging dock in the center console complements full support for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There are a wide variety of seating options depending on the model you go with. SR5 models start with fabric seats, which a welcome on hot summer days in Texas, but the SofTex, leather, and semi-aniline leather seats on the Limited, Platinum, and Capstone models provide a more upscale look and feel. TRD Pro models get easy-to-clean Softex seats in either a grey or bold red technical camouflage pattern, which is echoed on the vehicle's overfenders.
The Sequoia Capstone has a unique chrome-accented mesh grille and rides on massive 22" dark chrome alloy rims. Inside, it has dark walnut wood trim, metal speaker grilles, ambient illumination, and a backlit CAPSTONE logo on the passenger side of the dashboard. It's also got 10-way adjustable power seats for the driver and passenger and a standard panoramic moonroof.
Unlike some 3-row SUVs, adults can actually ride (and get in and out) of the third row of the Sequoia. Those seats not only can recline but can slide backward to provide up to 6-inches of extra legroom in exchange for some cargo space. Headroom is excellent for all passengers. Whether you get a model with the 60/40 split-bench second row or the captain's chairs, accessing the third row is easy since the seats fold up and tumble forward.
When using all three rows, cargo capacity ranges from 11.5 cubic feet to 22.3 cubic feet - depending on how far back you slide the third row. Drop the third row, and you're looking at 49.0 cubic feet, and when you need to move oversized items, you've got a capacious 86.9 cubic feet with both rows dropped. One thing to be aware of is that the back part of the cargo floor is a few inches lower than the front part, though Toyota helps provide a level floor with an adjustable shelf.
Toyota doesn't wholly redesign its trucks and big SUVs that often, so when they do, it needs to be a meaningful update. In the case of the 2023 Sequoia, they did just that. Its new looks are more substantial inside and out, and the new hybrid engine and transmission combo is exceptional. Toyota's breadth of trim options means there's a Sequoia model for everyone, with choices for everyday practicality, varying degrees of luxury, and off-road capability. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia starts at $58,300 for the SR5 4x2 model and tops out at $76,900 for the TRD PRO 4x4 and $78,300 for the Capstone 4x4.