2023 Toyota Sequoia Review:Driving Impressions

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Jun 08, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Toyota deals!

After a 14-year run for the current-generation model, Toyota is introducing an all-new Sequoia for the 2023 model year. Unique to the North American market, the full-size 3-row SUV breaks cover with a handsome, no-nonsense look penned at Toyota’s CALTY U.S. Design Center in Newport Beach, California. Stout, Tundra-based mechanicals engineered at the automaker’s technical center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, underpin the new Sequoia. The automaker assembles the new Sequoia in San Antonio, Texas, alongside the recently redesigned Tundra full-size pickup.

With slightly more than 8,000 units sold in the United States in calendar-year 2021, the Sequoia was dead last among full-size non-luxury SUVs, a segment that includes the Chevrolet Tahoe and SuburbanFord ExpeditionGMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and Nissan Armada. A Toyota spokesperson estimates that the all-new 2023 model will easily triple that sales number.

Just in time for record gasoline prices in the U.S., all 2023 Sequoias arrive equipped solely with a parallel mild-hybrid powertrain system consisting of a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and inline electric motor-generator. This system debuted as an option in the 2022 Tundra full-size pickup. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet released fuel-economy estimates for the new Sequoia. Still, based on combined city/highway numbers for the identical mild-hybrid powertrain in the 2022 Tundra, Toyota projects the 2023 iteration of its full-size SUV to deliver a 5-7 mpg improvement over the non-hybrid, V8-powered 2022 Sequoia.

Read our full preview of the 2023 Sequoia for more background and details.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Price and Release Date - Find the best Toyota deals!

The 2023 Sequoia lineup expands to five trim levels: the rugged base SR5, volume-selling Limited, well-equipped Platinum, off-road-oriented TRD Pro (available exclusively with 4-wheel drive), and range-topping Capstone. All other Sequoia trims are available with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or on-demand part-time 4-wheel drive (4WD). Including the $1,495 destination charge, the 2023 Toyota Sequoia lineup is priced as follows:

  • SR5: $59,795
  • SR5 4WD: $62,795
  • Limited: $66,195
  • Limited 4WD: $69,195
  • Platinum: $72,395
  • Platinum 4WD: $75,395
  • TRD PRO 4WD: $78,395
  • Capstone: $76,795
  • Capstone 4WD: $79,795

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia will arrive at U.S. dealer showrooms in late summer 2022.

I spent most of a day and 108 miles in a Sequoia Platinum 4WD. It was equipped with an optional load-leveling, height-adjustable rear suspension, power-extending running boards, 10-inch color head-up display, power-extending tow mirrors, and the Tow Technology package (rear camera mirror, and trailer back-up guide with straight path assist). As of the posting of this review, Toyota had not priced the Sequoia’s optional equipment, but a company spokesperson estimated an as-equipped price of the test vehicle with options of about $80,000.

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2023 Toyota Sequoia Platinum 4WD Silver Front Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

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. The same is true of the cabin, where the Sequoia and Tundra instrument panel, front seats, and console have extensive commonality.

The generously proportioned front bucket seats support a broad range of physiques. They’re power-operated, cloth-covered with SR5, synthetic SofTex trimmed in the Limited, leather-clad with the Platinum and TRD Pro, and wearing super-creamy semi-aniline leather in the Capstone. All are heated, with power-adjustable lumbar, and all but the base SR5 get ventilation and driver-seat memory settings as well.

As is the full-size SUV norm, the Sequoia’s center console offers substantial storage space. In addition to a floor shifter, drive-mode selector, and 4WD range controls, there’s a quartet of cupholders, a deep forward well that includes a wireless charger in higher trims, individual inboard armrests, and a covered central bin.

Moving aft, the roomy second row is populated by a 3-person 60/40 split bench in SR5 and Limited and a pair of heated and ventilated captain’s chairs with folding inboard armrests in higher trims. The second-row seats unlatch at the rear and pivot forward for third-row access.

All 2023 Sequoias feature a standard third-row bench that slides fore and aft 6 inches, an industry exclusive. Sliding the third row fully forward with the seatback raised increases cargo space with a full load of passengers to 22.3 cubic feet. That’s enough space for five or six airport roller bags. With the third-row seat in its forward-most position, I was able to fit my 6-foot, 2-inch frame. I’d be more comfortable with it sliding to its rear-most position, which chops space behind the third row to 11.5 cubic feet. The point is that it’s possible to find a happy medium for both passengers and cargo with this unique system.

The third-row seatbacks are split 60/40, and Sequoia owners can electrically lower or raise them on all but the base SR5 trim. But the third row doesn’t fold completely flat or disappear into the floor as it sits atop the 1.87-kilowatt-hour nickel-metal hydride hybrid battery. Accordingly, total cargo volume behind the front seats with all second- and third-row seats lowered shrinks a bit to 86.9 cubic feet, down from 120.1 cubic feet in the previous-model Sequoia. That’s still a lot of room for almost any need.

A nifty adjustable shelf system behind the third row with three positions mitigates this somewhat. Toyota says it can hold up to 220 pounds.

Another neat Sequoia feature is a flip-up rear window in the liftgate that you can open separately to drop in groceries or sports gear in a tight space.

Independent Expert Opinion: Infotainment, Technology, and Safety - Find the best Toyota deals!

2023 Toyota Sequoia Platinum 4WD Interior Dashboard

Photo: Ron Sessions

The new Sequoia adopts the brand’s new Toyota Audio Multimedia infotainment system that made its debut in the 2022 Tundra. Aside from an 8-inch high-resolution color touchscreen in the base SR5, all other trims get a large 14-inch touchscreen. As with other new Toyota models, the Sequoia’s is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, so no clumsy USB cables are required for connecting to content. Access to the system is via logically arrayed touchscreen icons and steering-wheel buttons. Still, Toyota wisely kept an easy-to-use analog volume knob for quick, no-look audio system adjustments on the fly.

The new multimedia system arrives with greatly improved voice control. It comes to life when you push the steering-wheel voice-control icon button or simply say a wake-up phrase such as “Hello Toyota,” at which point the Intelligent Assistant asks what it can do for you. This might entail adjusting the climate control settings, finding a point of interest in the constantly updated Google database, giving navigation directions, finding an audio selection, and more. It responds to simple, conversational English.

Toyota equipped the Platinum test vehicle with a standard wireless charger, onboard 4G Wi-Fi for up to five wireless devices, and a 14-speaker JBL audio system that filled the expansive cabin with amplified, high-fidelity sound.

Leaving nothing to extra-cost option packages, all safety and driver-assistive tech are standard in the new Sequoia. That includes eight airbags, Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 with adaptive cruise controllane-keeping assistance with steering assist, lane-centering assistance, road sign assist, automatic high-beam control, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, plus blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning, and front and rear automatic parking assist with automatic braking. A panoramic surround-view camera is also standard, providing a simulated overhead view of the Sequoia and its immediate surroundings.

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the 2023 Toyota Sequoia - Find the best Toyota deals!

2023 Toyota Sequoia Platinum 4WD Silver Rear Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

The standard hybrid powertrain in the 2023 Toyota Sequoia includes a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 and 10-speed automatic transmission with a 48-horsepower electric motor/generator sandwiched between the two. The total system output of the i-Force Max hybrid system is 437 hp and 583 pound-feet of torque.

Funny thing, though, the Sequoia with the i-Force Max powertrain doesn’t feel like a hybrid in the traditional sense. For one thing, it’s got a 10-speed step-shift transmission, not the continuously variable type found in many hybrids. And there’s the sweet-sounding exhaust burble of the twin-turbo V6, which feels like it’s ready to take on any task. The blending of the electric motor/generator is pretty seamless. The electric motor makes for turbine-smooth launches and boosts low- and mid-range torque, then the turbochargers spool up and the Sequoia feels like it’s ready for some serious work or play—your choice.

On just a few occasions, I felt a slight bump or lash in the system when reapplying the throttle after coasting, but otherwise, the drive experience was very smooth, powerful, and unobtrusive. You can change this balance slightly by swapping the default drive mode from Normal to Eco or Sport with the console-mounted drive-mode selector.

Perched on 265/60R20 all-season tires, the Sequoia felt stable and planted on the interstate and back-country 2-lane blacktops. The electrically boosted rack-and-pinion steering tracked straight and true without undue lane-tending but changed course as well as you’d expect any 3-ton SUV could with reasonable precision. The brake pedal response was linear with no drama. However, during a short stint towing an Airstream trailer (in a different vehicle), I did notice that pedal travel and stopping distances were more prolonged—not unexpected, considering the extra weight of the trailer.

Over 108 miles of city streets, interstates, and rural Texas 2-lane backroads, I saw 16.7 mpg as indicated on the Sequoia’s trip computer. While that’s not an impressive number for a hybrid, that mpg number included a lot of stops, starts, city traffic, and idling while gathering vehicle photography. The EPA hasn’t yet announced official 2023 Sequoia fuel-mileage estimates. Still, the mechanically identical 2022 Tundra pickup with the i-Force Max hybrid powertrain is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city/24 mpg highway/22 mpg combined with RWD and 19 mpg city/22 mpg highway/20 mpg combined for 4WD versions. These numbers represent a 5-7 mpg improvement in combined EPA estimates over the previous-generation 5.7-liter V8-powered Sequoia.

Independent Expert Opinion of the 2023 Toyota Sequoia - Find the best Toyota deals!

Last redesigned for the 2008 model year, the new Tundra-based Sequoia is tough where it counts. A road-to-roof reboot nets the 2023 Sequoia a more fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain with an impressive 583 pound-feet of available torque, up to 9,520-pound towing ability, a full complement of standard safety and driver-assistive systems, and the latest in infotainment technology including advanced voice-control functions.

Compared to the previous Sequoia, the maximum cargo space is down in the new model due to the hybrid battery under the third-row seat. Still, overall usability is improved courtesy of a segment-first sliding third-row seat and an adjustable cargo-shelf system.

Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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