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2023 Toyota Sequoia

2023 Toyota Sequoia Is a Family Hauler With a Lot of Power

  • Redesigned for 2023
  • New 437-hp hybrid powertrain as standard
  • Completely updated interior
  • 2023 model kicks off the third Sequoia generation

What is the Toyota Sequoia?

2023 Toyota Sequoia

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is a large three-row SUV built on the same body-on-frame architecture that underpins the Tundra pickup. It's been 14 years since the last Sequoia redesign, and the rival Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition have received all sorts of updates during that period. Even Jeep is in the mix now with its three-row Wagoneer.

So the Sequoia has a lot of catching up to do. Thankfully, it gets new looks, an independent front suspension, a new turbocharged V6 hybrid powertrain, increased towing capability and an updated collection of advanced driver assist features. After our initial testing, it's apparent that these upgrades make the new Sequoia a more compelling pick for a large SUV. 

What's under the Toyota Sequoia's hood?

Every Sequoia comes with a turbocharged V6 engine paired to a hybrid system. This hybrid powertrain — which Toyota calls the i-Force Max — develops 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque and is the same one that's optional in the Tundra pickup. These are good numbers for the class, and it's certainly more powerful than the 5.7-liter V8 from the previous generation (it put out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft).

That power flows through a 10-speed automatic transmission, and you can get the Sequoia with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. As is typical for this class of SUV, Sequoias with 4WD have low-range gearing to better enhance traction when you're off-roading or driving slowly on slippery surfaces, such as a wet boat ramp.

How does the Sequoia drive?

2023 Toyota Sequoia

The Sequoia's new powertrain has gobs of easily accessible power. Plant your foot at any speed, and the transmission wastes no time to kick down a few gears and rocket the SUV forward. Acceleration is impressive for such a big beast, just as it is for rivals with large eight-cylinder engines. While we didn't really get a chance to put the Sequoia through its paces in tight corners, the long, sweeping turns along our drive route were handled with ease. There was no significant body roll in these conditions.

One of the benefits of the Sequoia's truck-based backbone (compared to a more car-like crossover) is its performance when venturing off the beaten path. We drove the off-road-ready TRD Pro variant on a brief course designed to show off the Sequoia's abilities. It handled steep inclines and a course designed to test articulation without any issue. Unless you plan on rock-crawling in Moab, the TRD Pro should be able to tackle most off-road obstacles.

How comfortable is the Sequoia?

We primarily drove the two versions of the Sequoia that make up the bookends of the lineup — the entry-level SR5 (with TRD Sport package) and top-spec Capstone. Both were equipped with upgraded suspensions — the former's TRD Sport package adds Bilstein shock absorbers, and the Capstone had the optional rear air suspension — so we don't know how the Sequoia with a standard suspension feels. But both trucks as equipped felt quite comfortable on-road and far less rough-riding than you might expect a truck-based SUV to be. The front seats are both cushy and supportive, and we had no trouble staying comfortable for a few hour-long stints at the wheel.

The V6 hybrid powertrain emits an impressively throaty exhaust note while accelerating; you'd be hard-pressed to identify the sound as anything but a burly V8. On the other hand, the significant amount of wind noise present in most Sequoia grades illustrates this SUV's pickup roots. There's quite a lot coming from the windshield pillars at highway speeds, likely a result of the Sequoia's upright and boxy aerodynamics. If you're looking for ultimate noise reduction, the Capstone has sound-reducing front windows, and they noticeably help reduce wind noise compared to the SR5.

How's the Toyota Sequoia's interior?

2023 Toyota Sequoia

Compared to the outgoing Sequoia, the new version is much improved. The centerpiece of the dashboard is a new 14-inch touchscreen that comes standard on all models except the most basic SR5 that sticks with an 8-inch screen. The larger screen definitely helps make the new Sequoia's interior look high-tech. Both screens come with wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you don't need to use a USB cable to integrate your phone's apps into the touchscreen.

Other aspects of the Sequoia's cabin are a major step up, too. There are more soft touch points and greater use of simulated leather upholstery. The Capstone trim even has open-pore wood trim and upgraded leather upholstery to drive home its luxury theme.

There's plenty of headroom and legroom in the front two rows. The second-row sliding feature has been removed and replaced by a fold-and-tumble mechanism that grants immediate access to the third row. Unfortunately, that means second-row passengers don't have the ability to increase their legroom by moving rearward. The sliding function has been moved to the third row, which offers decent enough fore and aft legroom, but headroom isn't so generous. Moreover, the floor is quite high in the rear, so adults might find their legs pulled close to their chest.

How's the Toyota Sequoia's tech?

The 2023 Sequoia comes with a lengthy list of standard features, including LED headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, tri-zone climate control, a 360-degree parking camera, a digital instrument panel, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get a number of advanced driving aids: adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitoring system, parking assist with automatic braking, and forward collision warning. Some competitors charge extra for these features, so while the Sequoia's starting price is generally higher than others, you also get more stuff. And it's worth noting that while upper Sequoia grades include additional luxuries, all of its available driving aids come standard on the base model.

How's the Toyota Sequoia's storage? What about towing?

Whether it's storing your personal items or pulling a big trailer, the Sequoia is happy to accommodate all your overpacking needs. The center console and interior storage spaces aren't as well organized as they are in some rivals like the Suburban. Thankfully, there are a number of large pockets and cupholders for items like smartphones, laptops and water bottles.

A new adjustable-height storage system also allows owners to configure the cargo space for various needs. The Sequoia offers up to 22.3 cubic feet of storage behind the third row, which is slightly less than the Tahoe but a few more cubes than the Expedition. Maximum cargo space is a bit underwhelming by large SUV standards. Lower the second- and third-row seating and you'll have 86.9 cubic feet available. A Tahoe, for comparison, can hold up to 122.9 cubes.

Of course, no three-row family SUV that's based on a full-size pickup truck would be complete without a big towing number, and the Sequoia's got one. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia has a maximum towing capacity of 9,520 pounds, beating out the Ford Expedition and Tahoe and Suburban twins. It does, however, fall just short of the Wagoneer's 10,000-pound limit.

Edmunds says

The new 2023 Toyota Sequoia has impressive capabilities, lots of interior space, and thoroughly modern features including high-tech driver aids and a standard hybrid powertrain. It can be had in luxurious configurations or off-road-ready trim levels. More than just an afterthought, it's now seriously competitive among full-size SUVs.

2023 Toyota Sequoia