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2023 Toyota Sequoia Road Test and Review

Ron Sessions
by Ron Sessions
June 21, 2022
6 min. Reading Time
2023 Toyota Sequoia ・  Photo by Ron Sessions

2023 Toyota Sequoia ・ Photo by Ron Sessions

Sporting a muscular, purpose-built look derived from the full-size Tundra pickup and packed with the technology and luxury features full-size SUV buyers have come to expect in the segment, an all-new Sequoia hits showrooms later this summer. Designed, engineered, and assembled in the U.S., it is the first new Sequoia since 2008.

And not a moment too soon, as the Sequoia was dead last in full-size non-luxury SUV sales last year with slightly more than 8,000 sold in the U.S., a number it expects to at least triple with the all-new 2023 model. Why so bullish? The competition includes the ever-popular Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and Nissan Armada. But at this time of high gas prices, none of them offers a fuel-saving hybrid powertrain, which the Sequoia will include as standard equipment.

Offered with rear- or on-demand 4-wheel drive, the three-row 2023 Sequoia lineup expands to five trims. Including the $1,495 destination fee, they are priced as follows: SR5 4x2 ($59,795), SR5 4x4 ($62,795), Limited 4x2 ($66,195), Limited 4x4 ($69,195), Platinum 4x2 ($72,395), Platinum 4x4 ($75,395), TRD PRO 4x4 ($78,395), Capstone 4x2 ($76,795), and Capstone 4x4 ($79,795).

Full-Size Seven- to Eight-Passenger SUV

The 2023 Sequoia SUV shares much of its content with the full-size Tundra pickup including the stout body-on-frame layout, hybrid powertrain, suspension, steering, brakes, front fenders, hood, and doors. Dimensionally, the 2023 model gains 3 inches in overall length from last year’s Sequoia, and it now stretches about the same distance from nose to tail as the Nissan Armada, around 2 inches less than the Ford Expedition and full-size sales-leading Chevrolet Tahoe, and roughly 12.5 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Suburban.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Hybrid Power

Just in time for record-high gas prices, the 2023 Sequoia hits the ground running with a standard hybrid powertrain from the Tundra pickup. The i-Force Max hybrid system includes a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 and 10-speed automatic transmission with a 48-horsepower electric motor/generator sandwiched between the two. Total system output is 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque.

The blending of the turbocharged V6 and electric motor/generator is remarkably seamless. At low speeds, the electric motor delivers turbine-smooth launches and adds a dollop of torque. Then, as the turbo V6 chimes in with a hearty burble, the SUV feels like it’s ready to take on any task you ask of it. Unlike the hybrid systems in Toyota’s passenger cars, this one is hooked to a 10-speed step-shift transmission, not the continuously variable type. You can change how much the electric motor contributes to the drive experience by changing the default drive mode from Normal to Eco or Sport with the console-mounted drive mode selector.

The 2023 Sequoia EPA fuel-mileage estimates weren’t available as this review was posted, however the mechanically identical 2022 Tundra pickup with the i-Force Max hybrid powertrain is EPA rated at 22 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and 20 mpg combined for 4WD versions. These numbers represent a substantial 5-7 mpg improvement over those of the last year’s 5.7-liter V8-powered Sequoia. Despite its twin-turbo V6 engine, the new Sequoia hybrid uses less-expensive regular unleaded fuel as well.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Command and Control

As with the exterior, the Sequoia interior shares key content with the Tundra, including the instrument panel, front seats, and console.

The standard heated and power-operated front bucket seats are comfortable and generously proportioned, cloth-covered in the SR5, SofTex trimmed with Limited, leather-clad in the Platinum and TRD PRO, and trimmed with extra-soft semi-aniline leather in the Capstone. All but the SR5 add ventilation and driver-seat memory settings, too.

Other standard fare includes set-and-forget three-zone automatic climate control, and a Smart Key system with pushbutton start. Facing the driver is a 12.3-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and a leather-clad tilt/telescopic steering wheel that’s heated in all but the base SR5 and with power-adjustability in Platinum and Capstone trims.

The Sequoia’s roomy center console offers plenty of storage. Along with a floor shifter, drive mode selector, individual inboard armrests, and 4WD range controls, it houses four cup holders, a deep forward well ahead of the shifter that includes a wireless charger in Platinum and higher trims, and a covered central bin.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

New Toyota Audio Multimedia System

For 2023, the Sequoia upgrades to the same Toyota Audio Multimedia system that was introduced for 2022 Tundra. The core of the system is a free-standing high-resolution color touchscreen measuring 8 inches in the SR5 and 14 inches for the Limited, Platinum, TRD PRO, and Capstone. It is compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, eliminating the jumble of USB cables to connect to content. The system is simple to use, with primary access via large, colorful, and logically arrayed touchscreen icons. There are also hard steering-wheel buttons for volume and tuning, plus an easy-to-use analog volume knob on the dash for quick adjustments with minimal distraction.

Improved voice control that recognizes natural speech is also onboard. It’s accessed via a steering-wheel voice-control icon button or by simply saying a wakeup phrase such as “Hey, Toyota.” Once activated, the system can find a point of interest in the continuously updated Google data base, give navigation instructions, adjust the climate control temperature, change to a different audio selection, and more.

The base audio system is an 8-speaker AM/FM with a 3-month trial of SiriusXM.  Platinum, TRD PRO, and Capstone upgrade to a standard JBL audio system with 14 speakers for a bigger, amplified sound. All Sequoia models come with a one-month, 3GB trial of a 4G Wi-Fi hot spot for up to five wireless devices.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Second-Row Comfort

Second-row passengers get plenty of space to stretch out, as well as their own climate-control air vents. In SR5 and Limited trims, there’s a reclining three-person 60/40 split bench with center armrests for the outboard seating positions. Platinum, TRD PRO, and Capstone trims get a pair of heated and ventilated captain’s chairs with folding inboard armrests and a low-mounted, fixed console tray. All but the SR5 also are equipped with manual pull-up sunshades for the rear door windows as well as a 400-watt, 120-volt AC power outlet. Cheering the aft seats of SR5, Limited, and TRD PRO trims is a standard sunroof, which upgrades to a full-length panoramic glass roof with a power sunshade in Platinum and Capstone models.

To facilitate access to the third-row seats, the second row seats unlatch at the rear and pivot forward.

No rear-seat video entertainment system is currently available.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Sliding Third-Row Seat

All trims come with a 60/40 split third-row bench that reclines. It also slides manually fore and aft 6 inches, using levers in front of the lower cushions. This is an exclusive feature among full-size SUVs. Sliding the third-row bench fully forward with the seatbacks raised increases cargo space to 22.3 cubic feet, easily roomy enough for five or six airport roller bags.

Headroom and legroom are decent back there, room enough for a pair of 6-foot tall adults with the third-row seat in its forward-most position. Adjusting the third-row bench fully rearward bumps legroom from 28.1 to 33.7 inches, but drops cargo space behind the third row to just 11.5 cubic feet. The beauty of this unique system is it provides adjustability for varying cargo and passenger needs.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Cargo Area Features

Folding down the third-row seatbacks increases cargo space to 49.0 cubic feet. This is accomplished with a manual lever in SR5 models and electrically via switches just inside the cargo bay in Limited-and-higher trims. When the third-row seat is lowered, it automatically folds down the seat's head restraints to clear the back of the second-row seats. Also folding the second-row seatbacks increases cargo space to 86.9 cubic feet. The third-row doesn’t disappear into the floor when folded because it sits on top of the 1.87 kilowatt-hour nickel-metal hydride hybrid battery, so the cargo floor with the second- and third-row seats folded is raised a bit.

Making use of the space behind the third-row seat is an innovative adjustable shelf system which can be slid into one of three positions. It’s capable of holding up to 220 pounds.

The new Sequoia continues to offer a standard flip-up rear window in the power-operated lift gate which can be opened separately. It can prove quite handy to drop in groceries or sports gear in tight spaces where there might not be enough clearance to open the entire lift gate.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions


Built for the buyer who is more likely than your average SUV driver to venture off-pavement for entertainment and adventure, the 4WD-only Sequoia TRD PRO model returns for 2023. Among other features, it comes with a bold light-bar grille, front clearance lights, camo-style black overfenders, a dual-outlet exhaust, and oversized 33-inch 285/65R18 all-terrain tires. More importantly, the TRD PRO gains an extra half-inch of ground clearance, an aluminum front skidplate, and upgrades to a selectable locking rear differential. Back for a return engagement and proven to maintain damping ability under punishing off-road conditions are high-capacity internal-bypass coil-over Fox shocks up front and remote-reservoir Fox units for the rear suspension.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Higher Tow Rating

The 2023 Sequoia can tow up to 9,520 pounds, an increase from 7,400 pounds in last year’s model. Among key competitors, that tops the 8,400-pound maximum tow rating offered by the Chevrolet Tahoe, 8,500 pounds of the Nissan Armada, and 9,300-lb max of the Ford Expedition. With the Sequoia’s standard hybrid powertrain, engaging Tow/Haul mode keeps the electric motor working in tandem at higher speeds to support the engine for good towing performance.

Optional in Platinum and Capstone trims, a load-leveling air rear suspension helps keep the rear of the SUV from sagging under heavier payloads or towed trailers, such as the Airstream in the above photo. New extendable tow mirrors, optional for all Sequoia models, give the driver a better view of wider trailers and the surrounding traffic.

A Tow Technology package, standard in Platinum, TRD PRO, and Capstone trims and optional in SR5 and Limited, includes a digital rearview mirror that provides an unobstructed view to the rear, bypassing rear seat passengers, multiple headrests, and bulky cargo. Also part of the package is a trailer backup guide with a hitch view in the larger 14-inch infotainment screen that’s a boon when connecting a trailer and a rear split view that shows what’s on either side of the trailer. The package also includes Straight Path Assist which helps less experienced drivers tackle the often tricky job of backing up a trailer in a straight line

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Tech Rich Yet Tough

All of the new Sequoia’s safety and driver-assistive tech is now standard. Included is Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 with adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, automatic high-beam control, lane keeping with steering assist, lane tracing assist, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. Also standard this year are blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, plus front and rear parking assist with automatic braking, as well as a panoramic, 360-degree camera that displays an overhead view of the Sequoia and its immediate surroundings.

The new Tundra-based Sequoia mixes the latest tech with truck toughness. Its standard i-Force Max powertrain with an impressive 583 pound-feet of torque is the only fuel-saving gas-electric hybrid offered in a full-size pickup. Other key Sequoia features sure to be popular with buyers are the all-new Toyota Audio Multimedia system with a 14-inch touchscreen and advanced voice control, the sliding third-row seat, and adjustable cargo shelf system.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions


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