2023 Toyota Sequoia: First Drive Review

© Toyota Motor Sales, USA

2023 Toyota Sequoia
The largest SUV in Toyota’s extensive lineup, the all-new Sequoia shares its body-on-frame architecture with the new Toyota Tundra pickup and the Lexus LX 600 SUV, while sharing its bold new exterior design with the Tundra. Redesigned for the first time since 2008, the new Sequoia features the same hood, headlights and front fenders as Tundra. Inside, Sequoia improves comfort across the lineup and adds the premium Sequoia Capstone as the top trim level. Sequoia also receives the new Toyota Audio Multimedia first launched in Tundra. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is set to go on sale in summer 2022.

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Model Lineup
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia will be offered in five trim levels: SR5, Limited, Platinum, Capstone and TRD Pro. The starting price for the Sequoia SR5 with 2-wheel drive is $58,300, followed by the Limited at $64,700, the Platinum at $70,900, the Capstone at $75,300, and the TRD Pro at $76,900. The TRD Pro is only available with 4-wheel drive, and all other trim levels offer 4-wheel drive for an additional $3,000. Prices do not include a delivery, processing and handling fee of $1,495.

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2023 Toyota Sequoia SR5
The base Sequoia SR5 comes well equipped with standard 3-row 8-passenger seating, heated front seats, LED lighting, a moonroof, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display and a panoramic view monitor. The SR5 Premium package adds a 14-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia display, a power-folding third-row seat, a hands-free liftgate, SofTex-trimmed seats and 120-volt power outlets.

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2023 Toyota Sequoia Limited
The Sequoia Limited adds the 14-inch screen, power-folding third row and hands-free liftgate as standard equipment, as well as heated/ventilated front seats with memory, a heated steering wheel, and second- and third-row sunshades.

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2023 Toyota Sequoia Platinum
The Sequoia Platinum adds heated/ventilated second-row captain’s chairs, a 14-speaker JBL Premium Audio system, a panoramic moonroof, a head-up display, upgraded LED headlights and taillights, sequential turn signals, rain-sensing wipers and Qi wireless charging.

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2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone
The new premium trim level for Sequoia, Capstone is the most luxurious Sequoia with semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats, American Walnut trim with an open-pore finish, acoustic glass for the front doors, power running boards, and 22-inch chrome wheels.

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2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
The Sequoia TRD Pro is equipped to be the most off-road-capable Sequoia, and is easily identified by a heritage-inspired grille that includes an embedded TRD lightbar and marker lights at the top of the grille. Sequoia also includes black 18-inch TRD alloy wheels with increased offset for a wider stance, dual TRD Pro exhaust tips and a TRD roof rack. Additional equipment to improve performance both on- and off-road include TRD-tuned FOX internal bypass shocks, an aluminum TRD front skidplate, a selectable locking rear differential, multi-terrain select, crawl control and downhill assist control. Inside Sequoia TRD Pro offers a TRD heated steering wheel, second row captain’s chairs, TRD accents on the seats and a TRD shift knob.

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TRD Packages
Two TRD packages are offered for the 2023 Toyota Sequoia: the TRD Sport for SR5 with either 2WD or 4WD, and the TRD Off-Road for either SR5 4WD or Limited 4WD. The TRD Sport package adds 20-inch matte-black TRD wheels, TRD sport-tuned Bilstein monotube shocks, TRD-tuned springs, aluminum pedals and a red TRD start button. The TRD Off-Road package includes unique 18-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, TRD-tuned Bilstein monotube shocks, TRD-tuned springs, an electronically controlled locking rear differential, a skidplate, red front drive shafts, aluminum pedals, a TRD leather shift knob, a red TRD start button, multi-terrain select, crawl control and downhill assist control.

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Under the Hood
A twin-turbo V6 hybrid i-FORCE MAX exclusively powers the 2023 Toyota Sequoia — a powertrain first offered on Tundra — producing 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque. The i-FORCE MAX system features a motor generator positioned between the twin-turbo engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission. The new Sequoia has not received EPA fuel economy ratings, and Toyota has not released fuel economy estimates, but the company expects a large improvement over the outgoing V8-powered Sequoia. Maximum towing capacity is 9,520 pounds for the SR5 2WD and 8,980 for Capstone 4WD, with other trim levels rated in between those numbers.

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Body-On-Frame Architecture
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia features a modern body-on-frame design with a fully boxed frame engineered to increase rigidity and improve ride comfort. Sequoia features independent front suspension and new rack-mounted power steering to improve steering feel. At the aft end, the new Sequoia has a solid rear axle and loses the independent rear suspension of the previous generation. The multi-link rear suspension allows an available load-leveling rear height control air suspension and adaptive variable suspension for improved towing performance.

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Drive Mode Select
A new feature for Sequoia, Drive Mode Select allows the driver to choose between Normal, Eco and Sport modes to adjust engine and transmission response and steering effort. In addition, when the available load-leveling rear height control air suspension and adaptive variable suspension are added, Drive Mode Select also includes Comfort, Sport + and Custom that change suspension and steering settings.

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Tow Tech Package
Standard on TRD Pro and Capstone trims and available on all trim levels, the Tow Tech Package includes a trailer backup guide to aid in backing up a trailer. The package also has a straight path assist that adds steering assist to keep the trailer straight on the intended path when backing up, once the driver has positioned the trailer.

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Inner Space
The 2023 Sequoia interior has a fresh, modern feeling and quality materials for all trim levels. The new Toyota Audio Multimedia system sits prominently in the center of the dash, flanked by vents with climate control function buttons below. The 14-inch screen is optional on the SR5 and standard on all other trim levels. The center console is well organized and useful. The new flagship Capstone has an upscale vibe with leather and wood trim with exclusive color options.

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Standard Third Row
The folding third-row seat is standard for all trim levels, offering 8-person occupancy for SR5 and Limited with a second-row bench, and 7-person seating for other trim levels with second row captain’s chairs. The third-row seat slides 6 inches fore and aft to accommodate passengers or increase cargo capacity behind the third row; it can be folded down but does not fold flat to the cargo floor. Toyota also adds an adjustable cargo shelf system with a removeable shelf that can be set in different positions, including flat with the folded rear seat. The third-row seat cannot be removed.

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Cargo Capacity
With the second- and third-row seats folded, total cargo capacity is 86.9 cubic feet — down from 120.1 cubic feet in the previous generation Sequoia. Cargo capacity behind the second row is 49.0 cubic feet, also down from the previous 66.6 cubic feet. With the sliding third-row seat in the forward position, cargo room behind the third row is 22.3 cubic feet — up from the previous 18.9 cubic feet; however, when the seat is moved back to accommodate passengers, cargo room drops to 11.5 cubic feet.

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Bold Design
Sharing exterior design elements with the new Tundra, the bold new Sequoia design is a big departure from the previous generation with a large, aggressive grille and deeply sculpted fenders. The five trim levels are distinguished by differing grille treatments, wheels and other trim elements.

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On the Road
As a full-size, body-on-frame SUV, the 2023 Toyota Sequoia is a big vehicle, but the powerful i-FORCE MAX hybrid drivetrain is up to demanding use with plenty of power to give the vehicle good overall drivability. The Sequoia has plenty of power to pull out in traffic or merge onto highways, and there is always power on tap when needed. The 4-wheel drive is a part-time system that does not offer an automatic setting, which is common among competitors.

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On the Road
The steering response of the 2023 Toyota Sequoia feels fine for such a large vehicle, but not as good with the TRD Off-Road package — which is to be expected with the all-terrain tires. But that is a tradeoff to be considered for the additional capability in off-road conditions. The ride can be a bit rough on some road surfaces, likely attributed to the lack of independent rear suspension. With the air suspension and adaptive variable suspension it felt better in Comfort mode compared to Normal or Sport, but just more muted.

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Sequoia Interior
The new Sequoia interior has a bold, aggressive design similar to the exterior, while the digital instrument cluster and 14-inch touchscreen give the SUV a modern, high-tech feeling. The new Toyota Audio Multimedia system is intuitive and easy to use, and we like the separate climate control buttons positioned below. Each trim level offers nice materials and color combinations, and the new Capstone adds even more luxury. The TRD Pro is the most sporty option. Third-row seating is tight and likely most comfortable for younger passengers for short trips.

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Safety Technology
Sequoia comes with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 active safety system that includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. Sequoia also features dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

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Tow Vehicle
Many buyers who choose a full-size SUV plan to use it as a tow vehicle ,and at a press event we had the opportunity to tow a boat and trailer weighing 7,500 pounds. We pulled out onto a highway with a 70 mph speed limit and used all the big vehicle’s resources to get up to speed as quickly as possible. There is enough power to be comfortable with that weight, but we wouldn’t recommend going much higher. Once at highway speeds the Sequoia felt stable and comfortable even with the weight behind.

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Off-Road
Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to try the new Sequoia off-road, but we would expect it to perform similarly to the Tundra in off-road conditions. The Sequoia SR5 or Limited with the TRD Off-Road Package should handle more difficult situations, and the TRD Pro would be the most capable option.

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Right for You?
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia offers a bold new look, a modern interior and five trim levels, all powered by the 3.5-liter V6 i-FORCE MAX hybrid drivetrain. The Sequoia drives well although the ride is a little rough, and cargo space is down from the previous generation. The Platinum takes the interior upscale with the Capstone as the new luxury version. The Sequoia is a decent tow vehicle for a boat or a small trailer. Shoppers seeking a full-size SUV with comfortable room for five and cargo, who also plan to do some towing, should consider the 2023 Toyota Sequoia.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USA

Rating: 7.5
Pros: Powerful hybrid drivetrain; bold design; good infotainment interface; comfortable, modern interior.
Cons: No independent rear suspension; rough ride; less cargo space.
Bottom Line: Toyota’s full-size SUV receives a bold new design and powerful hybrid drivetrain.

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