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Three Things to Know About the 2023 Toyota Sequoia

Three Things to Know About the 2023 Toyota Sequoia

You might want to grab the old 2022 Sequoia if you prize third-row space

  • The new 2023 Sequoia includes standard electrification.
  • You’ll enjoy more power and spend less time at gas stations.
  • Third-row passenger room and cargo space feel smaller than before.

If any SUV is in desperate need of a complete redesign, it's the full-size Toyota Sequoia. The current second-generation version has been hanging around since 2008, and while Toyota has made updates to this three-row body-on-frame SUV during the past 15 years, the thirsty beast is only competitive when it comes to Toyota's solid reputation for reliability.

Toyota fans will be happy to know that a completely redesigned third-generation 2023 Sequoia goes on sale in the summer of 2022. The new 2023 Toyota Sequoia is based on the same platform as the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra, Lexus LX 600 and globally available Land Cruiser. However, it continues to be an SUV version of the Tundra instead of a direct replacement for the dearly departed Land Cruiser.

We attended the new Sequoia's reveal party and got a chance to crawl around in both the off-road-ready TRD Pro and the luxurious Capstone versions of the SUV. (It will also be available in more affordable SR5, Limited and Platinum trim levels.) Inside and out, the SUV looks good, though its toned-down front styling still elicits a love-it-or-hate-it reaction. It's also loaded with new infotainment, convenience features and safety technologies, bringing the Sequoia firmly into the 2020s.

That is to be expected, of course. Giant technological leaps are not really news, considering that the Sequoia is based on the new Tundra and the outgoing Sequoia's tech was quite old. There are three critical differences between the old Sequoia and the new one, though. And one of them might inspire you to run out and grab a 2022 Toyota Sequoia while you can.

Toyota's new i-Force Max hybrid powertrain is standard

If you're familiar with the changes to the redesigned Toyota Tundra truck, you know that pickup no longer offers a V8 engine. Instead, a twin-turbocharged V6 is standard, with the available i-Force Max hybrid powertrain arriving this spring.

With the Tundra-based 2023 Sequoia, Toyota surprised us with the announcement that the SUV will come only as a hybrid. But this isn't the same underwhelming two-motor design it uses in the Highlander Hybrid. Instead, we're talking about the Tundra's hybrid powertrain, which features the twin-turbo V6 and a single-motor parallel hybrid design that allows continuous delivery of the system's full torque to the wheels. 

Thanks to its 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque, as well as the Sequoia's all-new frame and other fortifications, this SUV can now tow 9,000 pounds. That's a significant jump over the old model's 7,400-pound maximum tow rating. But it still lands short of the Ford Expedition (9,300 pounds) and Jeep Wagoneer (10,000 pounds).

The new 2023 Toyota Sequoia requires fewer stops for gas

Though the new 2023 Sequoia can't tow as much as the Expedition or Wagoneer, it can trailer more than a Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon or Nissan Armada. And with its 437 horsepower, only a Ford Expedition equipped with the most potent 440-hp engine upgrade generates more motive force. And nothing in the class can touch the new Sequoia's 583 lb-ft of torque.

While we haven't driven the new Sequoia yet, it will undoubtedly feel quick. Better yet, that performance won't come at the expense of fuel efficiency. Official EPA fuel economy ratings for the Sequoia aren't available, and Toyota isn't speculating as to what the SUV will return. But considering that EPA ratings for the V8-powered 2022 Sequoia are 14 to 15 mpg in combined driving, chances are excellent that the new one won't need to visit gas stations as often, unless the gas tank shrinks just like the interior space has.

Is there a trade-off? Yes, and it appears related to third-row and cargo space

Toyota touts the new Sequoia's sliding third-row seat and adjustable cargo shelf as innovations that help to set the SUV apart from its rivals. Undoubtedly, these features are nice to have. But they exist in part to make the best of what appears to be a significant compromise associated with the i-Force Max powertrain.

Official interior specifications for the 2023 Sequoia will be available later, so this assertion is rooted purely in seat-of-the-pants observations. But to my butt, the new Sequoia's third-row accommodations feel much smaller than what the outgoing model offers. In fact, despite my long-limbed, short-torso frame, my head nearly touches the headliner when I'm sitting in the third-row seat.

Open the new Sequoia's liftgate, which no longer has a power window like the outgoing model, and the SUV's cargo space also appears to be smaller than before. That is because the hybrid battery pack's location under the third-row seating area forces a rise in the load floor, and the third seats don't fold anything close to flat when lowered.

I asked Joseph Moses, general manager of Vehicle Marketing and Communications, Trucks and SUVs, Toyota North America, if the new adjustable shelf was born of the need for a flat load floor when the rear seats are folded down. He confirmed that requirement drove the decision to offer the feature. Pressed about perceived reductions in cargo volume and third-row passenger space, Moses would only say that official interior specifications will be available closer to when the Sequoia goes on sale.

Our takeaway is that if you're thinking about getting a new Sequoia and you like how roomy the current one is, you might want to grab a 2022 while you can. That's especially true if you want that power rear window glass instead of the 2023's flip-up back window.

Edmunds says

The new 2023 Toyota Sequoia is undoubtedly a better SUV than the one it replaces. It looks better, is more technologically advanced, and will surely prove better to drive while returning significantly improved fuel economy. However, it does appear that cargo space and third-row seat comfort take a hit to accommodate the new Sequoia's standard hybrid drivetrain.