2023 Toyota Sequoia Review

Revamped Toyota Sequoia roars into 2023 with hybrid power and cutting-edge tech.

Fifteen years is a long time between new models. That’s how long Toyota Sequoia fans have been waiting for an overhaul of this three-row, full-size sport utility vehicle.

Based on the same platform underpinning the Toyota Tundra pickup truck, the new Sequoia takes a somewhat different approach by offering a hybrid-only powertrain. The fresh design, new technologies and safety features, along with robust towing capabilities make the 2023 Sequoia a strong competitor.

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2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV Review

Toyota offers the 2023 Sequoia in five grades. SR5 ($59,865), Limited ($66,265), Platinum ($72,465), TRD Pro ($77,565), and Capstone ($76,865). Add $1,595 for the destination charge.

The Sequoia seats up to eight and comes with standard rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive. The TRD Pro is four-wheel-drive only.  A twin-turbocharged V6, an electric motor, and a 10-speed automatic transmission power every model.

Exterior Highlights

2023 Toyota Sequioa side

The Toyota Sequoia boasts a captivating exterior design that showcases its rugged yet refined nature. Taking inspiration from the Tundra, the front fascia features a commanding broad mesh grille and striking LED running lights that elegantly extend down the fender.

The Sequoia’s muscular profile is enhanced by its blocky fenders and substantial hood, while the chrome window trim and roof rails add sophistication.

At the rear, wrap-around taillights and an integrated roof spoiler contribute to a streamlined appearance. While the wider-opening doors provide improved accessibility, they disrupt the harmony with the rear quarter windows.

For adventure enthusiasts, the TRD Pro models showcase their capabilities with distinctive features such as orange safety lights in the grille, black 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, and dual TRD exhaust tips.

Interior Highlights

2023 Toyota Sequioa interior

The Toyota Sequoia offers comfortable front seats with power adjustments and seat heaters. However, the rear seats and cargo area require careful consideration. The vehicle can accommodate at least four adults and two or three children, with bench seats in both rear rows seating up to eight.

Alternatively, swapping the second-row bench for captain’s chairs allows for seating seven. The second-row seats do not slide forward, but the third-row seats can slide about 5.5 inches.

2023 Toyota Sequioa front seats

It’s important to note that the third-row seats are only suitable for children. When optimizing cargo space by sliding the third-row seats forward, legroom, headroom, and cargo capacity are significantly reduced to just 11.5 cubic feet, which is smaller than some compact sedan trunks.

2023 Toyota Sequioa middle row

The Sequoia’s 60/40-split third-row seats cannot fold flat into the floor due to the presence of the hybrid battery positioned there instead of high-traffic areas under the second row.

Instead, Toyota provides a tiered removable cargo shelf that can be adjusted to three positions to keep items organized. At its highest setting, it forms a storage shelf accessible by lifting the glass on the split tailgate.

Folding down the third-row seats expands the cargo space to 49 cubic feet while flattening the second row increases it to 86.9 cubic feet behind the front seats.

2023 Toyota Sequioa rear seats

This SUV features a new multimedia system that includes a standard 8-inch or optional 14-inch touchscreen. The multimedia system offers an enhanced user experience with improved sight, touch, and voice activation.

Through the Intelligent Assistant feature, activated by saying “Hey Toyota,” users can access voice-activated commands for various functions such as searching for directions, finding points of interest, adjusting audio controls, and changing cabin temperatures.

The system also provides real-time over-the-air updates for mapping and POIs through the cloud-based native navigation system available via Drive Connect. Seamless smartphone integration is also included.

Driver-Assist Safety Equipment

All grades of the Sequoia come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5, an advanced active safety system. This system includes the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, which has been improved to detect not only vehicles ahead but also pedestrians in low light, bicyclists in daylight, oncoming vehicles, and pedestrians at intersections during left turns.

The system provides audio/visual alerts and automatic braking in certain conditions. Emergency steering assist is an additional feature that stabilizes the vehicle during emergency steering maneuvers and helps prevent lane departure.

The Sequoia is also equipped with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control for adaptive cruise control functionality. Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist notifies the driver if the vehicle is drifting out of the lane without using the turn signal, while Lane Tracing Assist helps keep the vehicle centered using visible lane markers or a preceding vehicle.

Other safety features include Automatic High Beams that switch between high and low beams based on detected vehicles, Road Sign Assist that recognizes road signs and displays them on the multi-information display, and Toyota’s Rear Seat Reminder that alerts the driver if a rear door was opened within a certain timeframe.

Standard safety features also include Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking.

Innovative Hybrid Powertrain

2023 Toyota Sequioa engine

You can no longer purchase a V8-powered Toyota as the Sequoia was the last model to offer one. Like the Tundra, the Sequoia comes with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Where the Tundra offers a hybrid system optionally, it’s standard on the 2023 Sequoia.

And unlike most other Toyota hybrids, this one is geared toward boosting power, although a modest bump in fuel efficiency is realized. Whereas models such as the Toyota Prius utilize an electric motor to turn the wheels alone or in conjunction with the engine, the Sequoia finds its electric motor on the bell housing between the engine and the transmission.

As a result, electric and gasoline power combine to deliver a brawny 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque with power sent to the wheels utilizing a 10-speed automatic transmission. 

Even with the added power, the Sequoia delivers 21/24/22 mpg, a 7 mpg boost over the previous model. Moreover, the Sequoia tows up to 9,520 pounds, a 26-percent improvement this year. 

Driving Highlights

2023 Toyota Sequioa rear

The Sequoia offers excellent step-off acceleration and strong passing power – two musts with any full-size SUV. Although we tested the Sequoia with no more than three people onboard, we’re confident that a fully loaded Sequoia tasked with towing will get the job done.

We credit the hybrid powertrain, including the smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission with imbuing confidence.

Weighted steering supplies an authentic connection to the pavement and helps this sizable SUV to manage the terrain. The Tundra connection is evident as this SUV handles and rides like a truck.

If you’re looking for a comfortable ride along with deft handling, the Toyota Grand Highlander may suit you best. Further, the Sequoia’s massive blind spots would otherwise be worrisome without the rear camera mirror. This device offers an unimpeded view of what’s behind the SUV and along with massive outside mirrors, no surprises await the driver.

Our test model came with four-wheel drive and it behaved as expected. While the Sequoia TRD lacks the 1.1-inch lift found in Tundra TRD Pro models, it compensates with 2.5-inch Fox shocks featuring internal bypass technology, ensuring a smoother and easier off-road experience. The vehicle’s ground clearance remains at 8.7 inches.

Toyota Sequoia Considerations

The made-in-Texas Sequoia matches up well with the competition which includes the Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, and the Jeep Wagoneer.

Its cramped third-row seating compartment and not-really-luxurious Capstone edition are two demerits of note, with the Yukon XL Denali perhaps the best example of room and opulence in this class.

Engine photo courtesy of Toyota. All other photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Matthew Keegan

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