Review of the 2023 Toyota Sequoia | Best SUVs 2022
The takeaway: Toyota’s 2023 Sequoia has been completely redesigned for its third generation. It now shares quite a few bits with the Tundra, but that’s hardly surprising—or bad—because both are built on the same production line in San Antonio, Texas. First and foremost, the SUV named after a big tree now has the same twin-turbocharged I-Force Max hybrid powertrain as the Tundra. Along with the new engine, the updated interior makes the Sequoia a real contender in its segment. We flew to Plano, Texas for Toyota’s annual HQ Confidential media player to spend some time behind the wheel.
- The new solid rear axle configuration adds off-road capability while remaining smooth on the road.
- The Sequoia is available exclusively with Tundra’s same I-Force Max hybrid powertrain, ditching the V8 that plagued the previous model.
- The TRD Off-Road Pack (a first for Sequoia) lets you add the off-road gear of the TRD Pro to the SR5 and Limited models.
- Base price: $58,300 ($76,900 as tested)
- Engine: 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 hybrid
- Power: 437
- Torque: 583 lb-ft
- Gearbox: 10-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: 4×2 or 4×4
- Fuel economy: TBD (we measured 20 mpg on the highway)
- Towing capacity: 9,000 lbs.
What you should know
Befitting a car named after a massive tree, the Sequoia is a sizeable brute with some presence. It remains a sturdy go-anywhere vehicle that can do just about anything. And it’s. Traditionally, it has gone the way of the Tundra in terms of looks and even mechanical underpinnings. The 2023 vehicle is no exception.
The Sequoia’s exterior features the same angular aesthetic as the Tundra; if you weren’t wiser you would think it could very well be a Tundra with a bedspread. The biggest differentiator is the air dam under the front bumper on non-TRD Pro models. The front row of the interior is much the same story, with nearly identical switchgear and infotainment system. However, the second row now gets spare captain’s chairs, behind which is a power-folding third row.
The price structure is where the Sequoia really differentiates itself from the Tundra. While the range largely follows the same structure, with a base SR5 and a top-end Capstone, the Sequoia is slightly more expensive. See below for the full breakdown.
- SR5 4X2: $58,300
- SR5 4×4: $61,300
- 4X2 limited: $64,700
- 4X4 limited: $67,700
- Platinum 4X2: $70,900
- Platinum 4X4: $73,900
- TRD Pro 4X4: $76,900
- Capstone 4X2: $75,300
- Capstone 4X4: $78,300
Smooth and balanced on the road
For 2023, Toyota ditched the second-generation Sequoia’s previous independent rear suspension and instead opted for a solid rear axle, making it one of the only body-on-frame SUVs in its segment with such a solid rear axle. Many enthusiasts assumed this would make the vehicle as rough as old bolts on the road. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as the Sequoia’s suspension is smooth as butter. Riding it on the road is a bit like powder skiing; the body rolls a bit, but once the tires bite, the direction changes are sharp.
Toyota purists can rejoice because the previous generation 5.7-liter V8 – which suffered from transmission and water pump failure and oil leaks (among many other issues) – is gone and was replaced by the same I-Force Max hybrid under the Toundra’s hood. Although here, all trim levels come standard with the hybrid, unlike the Tundra. Developing 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, the Sequoia can boogie when you put your foot down. Toyota hasn’t announced fuel economy figures yet, but I measured 20 miles per gallon driving about 50 miles of country roads and pockmarked highways during a test drive near Toyota’s headquarters. Toyota in Plano, TX.
TRD DNA: All-terrain scientist
On the road, the Sequoia is now a worthy competitor to vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe. However, the Sequoia takes the cake when it comes to off-road capability. With access to the entire lineup at Toyota’s headquarters in Plano, I got to try the TRD Pro variant, Toyota’s crème de la crème of off-road trim.
As the TRD Pro, the vehicle arrives with all the off-road benefits you can imagine for such a rough, tumbling machine. This includes TRD-tuned Fox off-road suspension, 1⁄4-inch-thick skid plates, rear locking differential and multi-terrain select as well as creep and descent control. In terms of aesthetic modifications, the Sequoia follows the path of the Tundra; it gets beefier TRD Pro wheels (made by BBS) along with camouflaged gaiters around the fenders and more aggressive styling throughout.
The highlights of the TRD Pro are the Falken Wildpeak off-road tires and the Fox suspension. And it’s not that surprising. When it comes to off-roading, the suspension and tires are some of the best modifications to start with. Unfortunately, the off-road track that Toyota had designed for us had turned into a primordial swamp following a violent thunderstorm the day before the start. But that was no obstacle for the Sequoia, which tackled everything. It’s not a trophy truck, but its Fox shocks tackled jumps and other obstacles with no problem.
It goes without saying that any TRD Pro vehicle is designed to perform off-road. However, I can’t ignore the elephant in the room: the lack of recovery points near the front bumper. While I’d bet the majority of TRD Pro owners will never take them off-road (too bad), the decision to omit them doesn’t make sense to enthusiasts. Either way, I’m willing to bet there will be a number of aftermarket solutions to fix the problem. there was no shortage of Toyota Tundras with heavy-duty bumpers (with recovery points) at this year’s Overland Expo West.
An eye-catching interior (with an electric third row)
The Sequoia’s cockpit felt familiar after spending several hours behind the wheel of the new Tundra. By familiar, I actually mean that the two areas are almost identical. Sitting behind the driver’s seat, I couldn’t miss the all-new 14-inch infotainment screen, standard on the TRD Pro model shown, but optional on lower trim levels. Spoiler alert: The base 8-inch screen is a bit of a letdown.
As far as infotainment systems go, the Sequoia’s optional 14-inch screen is one of the best I’ve used. Having been in front of quite a few infotainment screens in my day, it just felt like there were only acres of screen real estate. Toyota’s development team has also done a fantastic job implementing their much improved navigation and operating systems. Every inch of space was also well laid out and the user interface made sense; the minimalist design allows quick access to the screen of your choice without taking your eyes off the road for an extended period of time. Still, I often default to Apple CarPlay, and that experience was just as great with so much screen real estate to work with.
The rest of the TRD Pro’s interior is expected to be brash – the available red softex seats and upholstery are the reddest things I’ve seen in a long time. Like any TRD Pro vehicle, it’s also covered in TRD logos to remind you that you’re in a premium SUV. That said, all trim levels come with a nifty, power-adjustable third row. In addition to folding up and down, both seats can move forward and backward to allow for more cargo or more legroom.
I’m happy to report that the relationship between Tundra and Sequoia remains largely unchanged in the next generation. That said, the latter is still much more family-friendly, with a clever third-row seating and cargo solution. Despite the vehicle’s target market, it remains somehow as capable as a Tundra when it comes to off-road ability and on-road comfort. Ultimately, it provides everything for all buyers. And that’s why it enjoys a solid reputation in the full-size SUV segment.
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