2023 Toyota Sequoia
Tougher Than Ever
Like everyone these days, Toyota sells a whole lot of SUVs. But among all of the RAV4s, Highlanders, and 4Runners, the Sequoia tends to get a little lost, despite being their biggest and most capable utility. But, this Tundra-based full-framed 3-row ute is all-new for 2023, and looking to stand taller than ever!
2023 marks the start of the third generation of the full-size Toyota Sequoia 3-row utility. Thankfully, it remains based on the Tundra full-size pickup, and is now built right alongside it deep in the heart of Texas. So, it still boasts capability in spades, looks tougher than ever, yet pampers like never before.
All Sequoias work with Toyota’s fantastic 3.5-liter V6 hybrid rated at 437-horsepower and 583 lb-ft. of torque. It feels powerful in all situations, and if you keep throttle inputs featherlike, you can spend a surprising amount of time running on battery power and the 36-kW electric motor alone. But it’s very noticeable when the engine kicks in, both in feel and with a sound that’s almost V8-like.
And it really does want to get to work, having our test Sequoia lurching forward at our Mason Dixon test track’s starting line with even the slightest throttle inputs. Go full throttle and the rear squats noticeably before pouncing hard off the line to 60 in just 5.5-seconds. The 10-speed automatic transmission works through gears very smoothly, with power never really letting up much throughout the ¼-mile. Our best time was 14.2-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour.
Toyota’s 4WDemand part-time 2-range 4-wheel drive is optional with most trims and features an electronic transfer case as well as an automatic limited-slip rear; max tow rating is a substantial 9,520-lbs. Even with the tough-truck vibe, the Sequoia’s ride is very comfortable and quiet, though handling is not exactly its forte. At times it can feel a little too pickup truck-like and a handful when pushed hard, especially if you’re used to modern car-like crossovers.
At higher speeds, there was tremendous understeer and significant body roll through our handling course. But, keep speeds reasonable, and it responds plenty solid and safe, with good steering feedback. In braking runs, there was a lot of nosedive, which is to be expected when bringing this big of a vehicle to a complete stop. It took just 116-feet from 60 miles-per-hour.
The 7- or 8- passenger Sequoia is physically massive, yet it doesn’t feel as roomy as many direct rivals, especially in the 3rd row. Cargo space, not bad at all though, with 22.3 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 49.0 behind the 2nd, and a max of 86.9 cubic-ft. And it packs lots of standard safety features including dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, and Safety Sense 2.5 with automatic emergency braking and steering assist. The front seats are comfortable, and the cabin well-finished. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard for Toyota’s latest infotainment system. But, most trims come with the 14-inch version, and in operation, it’s one of the best systems out there right now.
Toyota made plenty of headlines with their over-the-top Capstone trim, but this Platinum seems much more reasonable, yet still includes amenities such as heated and ventilated seats for the 1st and 2nd rows, 14-speaker JBL premium audio, panoramic roof, wireless phone charging, and Head-Up display.
It is a big step up into the cabin, even when deploying side steps to help, but it is certainly an impressive looking vehicle with its big truck style grille, aggressive body cuts and mega tall stance. Government Fuel Economy Ratings with 4-wheel drive are 19-City, 22-Highway, and 20-Combined; our average an acceptable 20.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Stick to lower trims and you can get a lot of SUV for the money, staring tab, $59,960. 4-wheel-drive adds $3,000. However, things get pretty pricy as you work your way up to TRD Pro, which starts at $77,660.
With the fleeting nature of American buying habits, it’s hard to say if the Sequoia will stand as tall any of the many other SUVs in Toyota’s own lineup, though they have thinned the heard by no longer offering the Land Cruiser here in the U.S. Still, if Toyota was trying to create a modern looking, highly capable, full-size utility with an old-school feel… mission accomplished, the 2023 Sequoia is just that.
- Engine: 3.5-liter Twin-Turbo V6
- Torque: 583 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.2 seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 19 City / 22 Highway / 20 Combined
- Horsepower: 437
- 0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 116 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 20.5 MPG (Regular)